Constipation can make you feel bloated, gassy, and uncomfortable. Constipation is usually described as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, but could also mean that your stools are small and hard, and that you may have to strain yourself during bowel movements. As uncomfortable as constipation can be, you may be able to prevent the condition by knowing about the types of lifestyle habits and health problems that can lead to constipation.
Here are the three most common causes of constipation.
1. Lifestyle and diet
Leading a sedentary lifestyle and having poor nutrition are the most common causes of constipation. Exercise can naturally help push waste out of your system and strengthen your abdominal muscles — leading to easier bowel movements. Those who aren’t physically active tend to have more frequent bouts of constipation.
Eating too many foods high in sugar, sodium, and fat can also lead to constipation. Healthy whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans are high in vitamins and minerals, including fiber -- which can help improve your digestive health and produce more frequent bowel movements. Examples of foods that can contribute to or worsen constipation are dairy products, foods high in fat and sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and lack of water.
Constipation is a common side effect of many different types of prescribed medications. If you’ve recently started to experience constipation along with fewer bowel movements, determine whether the problem started when you began taking a new medication. If your medications are causing you to experiencing constipation, make an appointment with your health care provider immediately to see if your doctor can suggest an alternate form of treatment.
The most common types of medications that trigger constipation are antidepressants, anticonvulsants, diuretics, antacids that contain calcium and aluminum, narcotics, and blood pressure medications. In some cases, over-the-counter laxatives may also trigger constipation, even though these types of medicines are meant to treat health problems such as constipation.
Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common health condition that causes constipation. Other health conditions that can trigger constipation include diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism, lupus, stroke, spinal cord injury, and pregnancy. If you have any of these health conditions and are experiencing constipation, inform your health care provider so you can discuss a personalized treatment plan based on your condition.
CarePoint Health provides patients with care delivered by the area’s best and most dedicated doctors, nurses, hospitals and medical staff, with focus on preventive medicine, health care education, and disease management. To learn more about gastrointestinal health, contact CarePoint Health at 1-877-791-7000 or request an appointment online at our website.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.