What Causes Chronic Constipation



By Dr. Julia Lizy, MBBS (KEMU)
What causes chronic constipation


There are several definitions out there for chronic constipation.

However, the widely held is when a person has less than 3 bowel movements a week, and this goes on for several months.

To know if it is actually chronic constipation, we have to identify the type of bowel movements a person is having.

Causes of Chronic Constipation

1.    A fiber poor diet.

Fiber is found in vegetables, fruits and grains.

In today’s busy society, we love our conveniences. This has driven our society to eat way too much fast food and processed food. This has replaced eating a balanced, fiber rich diet.

The result? We are one of the most constipated generations ever to live. Continuing this type of diet for longer periods of time can lead to chronic constipation.

To reverse the problem, we need to improve our diet and increase our daily fiber consumption to 20 to 35 grams a day.

2.    Ignoring the urge to go

Constipation can result from a busy schedule that forces defecation to be postponed.

When the body sends the signal that it is time to empty the colon and that signal is ignored, it does a number of things.

  • A. It can throw off our body’s clock, or even cause it to be reprogrammed so that the urge to go is diluted.

  • B. As feces is stored a little longer in the rectum and more water is pulled from it, resulting in stool that is dry, hard and difficult to pass. and signals are sent to brain to evacuate, as external anal sphincter is in our voluntary control, so the process of defecation postpones.

  • C. A good urge to go may only come once in the day, postponing defecation for way too long. Toxins that should have been purged are held in the colon, with some of these toxins being absorbed into the blood stream.

It is important to give priority to the signal the body sends that it is time to go to the bathroom. Not doing so may eventually result in chronic constipation.

3.  A change in eating habits

Our bodies become accustomed to the foods we eat.

Switching our diet can result in a period of constipation. If this switch is away from fiber rich foods and towards foods that are high in hard to digest protein (like red meat), the change in diet may be what causes chronic constipation.

4 .Side effects of drugs

Drugs that are prone to cause constipation include:

  • Anti-epileptics

  • Antipsychotics

  • Calcium supplements

  • Opiate painkillers

Prolonged use of these may lead to chronic constipation constipation.


 5. Not drinking enough fluids

Numerous things can cause dehydration.

These include:

  • Drinking too little water

  • Drinking a lot of coffee, tea, or other diuretics

  • Working in a hot environment and sweating a lot

  • Some drugs are diuretics


 6. Anxiety or depression

These seem to be epidemic in this modern era.

A few of the causes may be:

  • Loneliness. This has become one of the greatest psychiatric issues of our day

  • Increased peer pressure

  • An overburdened workload

  • Anxiety for students over exams or homework assignments

Anxiety and depression have a profound effect on our bodies, and have been shown to slow down peristalsis, the natural wave-like contracting motion of the colon that moves stool along.

Interestingly enough, the mineral magnesium causes muscles to relax, and may prove helpful in relieving stress.

Many people take a magnesium supplement before bed and claim it helps them relax and get to sleep. This same relaxing effect influences the colon, helping to counteract stress induced constipation.

Besides relaxing a tense colon, magnesium has an osmotic effect of drawing water into the colon.

This helps stools to stay moist, soft and slippery, speeding their passage through the colon and out.

7. Hypothyroidism

This may be treated with a daily dose of Thyroxin.

8. Stimulant laxatives

Some laxatives work by irritating the colon to stimulate its contraction, forcing stool along.

Stimulant laxatives should be taken only as directed. If they are used for an extended period of time, stimulant laxatives can lead to dependence, meaning the body becomes dependent on them for the contraction of the colon.

This is how stimulant laxatives like Dulcolax and Senna can actually increase constipation. Long-term use is what causes chronic constipation in some individuals.

What Causes Chronic Constipation -

Important Conclusion


Conclusion, what causes chronic constipation:

Constipation is one of the most common and oft ignored health problems. Hectic schedules, extra hours of work and a demanding job may all be contributing factors.

Chronic constipation can may result in colon cancer, intestinal cancer or another disease. Please take chronic constipation seriously.

It’s helpful to establish a particular time of day for having a bowl movement, preferably in the morning. Taking a magnesium supplement in the evening often results in a bowel movement within an hour of getting up in the morning.

If you have corrected the above 8 causes of constipation and it persists for another 6 months, you should definitely see your doctor.


(Return from What Causes Chronic Constipation to Causes of Constipation)

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