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What causes constipation?

Stomachache, gastric pain

What causes constipation? - Part 1 of 2

>> Major contributing factors for constipation- Part 2 >>

We are used to encountering the word “constipation”, and we even include it in our daily jokes – such as portraying a face characteristic of someone “constipated”. But then, what is really constipation, and why should it ring a bell somehow in use? Read on to get to know this condition the more!

Constipation, although relatively ambiguous, refers to the atypical retention of fecal matter, a delay in bowel transit resulting to prolonged evacuation in comparison to a person's usual bowel habits, or stools that are hard, diminished in terms of quantity, or even perhaps relatively infrequent. In contrast to the common knowledge that normal bowel movement is limited to once per day, the normal bowel frequency essentially ranges from three each day to one bowel movement every third day! Therefore there's no reason for alarm if you failed to defecate a day or two. But then, this may cause other cumbersome events, such as having a very bad-smelling fart!

Current estimates reflect that every year, at least $400 million is being spent on laxatives, not to mention the amount used for assessment and investigations of the nature of constipation. Now this is not much of a good news, since a very affordable and achievable way of preventing constipation is the mere intake of fibrous foods! Just try to think what if the $400 million was spent on other projects, since everyone is indulged in healthy living. But then, modernization has a lot of effects on us and that would not exclude effects on our diet, making us more reliant on fastfoods and processed meat. No wonder we are spending a lot for laxatives!

Take note that constipation is not a disease, but rather, a symptom. This means that constipation may be simply understood as prolonged evacuation, or may be secondary to an underlying abnormality that may call for medical attention. Medical practitioners have therefore created a broad classification for the causes of constipation: primary and secondary constipation. Primary constipation cannot be attributed to any underlying systemic disease, and patients suffering from this have a normal colonic transit time even though a few may have a relatively sluggish colonic passage or dysfunction in the anal sphincter (or referred to as anorectal dysfunction). On the other hand, secondary constipation may be due to medications, systemic disorders, or underlying colonic obstructions.

There are three major contributing factors for constipation, namely, (1) the composition of the diet, (2) sedentary lifestyle or lack of physical exercise, and (3) obstruction of the colon, which is more likely to call for medical attention. Let us examine each of these closely.

>> Major contributing factors for constipation- Part 2 >>

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