Constipation; Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Constipation is characterized by difficulty in passing stools and less frequent bowel movements. Constipation is a sign of unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle choices. Constipation itself is not very harmful or alarming but it can be a symptom of a serious underlying issue. If you are suffering from constipation you need to know the symptoms, causes, constipation treatment, and risks associated with it.

 Constipation is one of the leading digestive problems in the world, with 2.5 million people affected in the US alone. Due to The lack of studies in Pakistan, we do not have a definite figure of affected patients here, but the prevalence across the world can be used to demonstrate the condition in Pakistan too. According to a study in 2019, the prevalence estimates were, 24.0% for chronic constipation and 39.6% for sub-chronic constipation. Keep in mind that different definitions and variations in the severity of constipation can affect these results too.


Constipation is not hard to diagnose. Not pooping enough is the simple definition but there are days when you do not defecate as much as you usually do. This is not to be confused with chronic constipation. Constipation can be very short-lived and last up to several days. The longer it lasts, the painful it gets. Some general rules to diagnose constipation as defined by the NHS are

  • You haven’t defecated at least 3 times a whole week.
  • Your feces is large, dry, and hard.
  • You experience pain or discomfort when you faceted
  • You are experiencing stomach pain and bloating.
  • You are feeling as though there’s a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements


Constipation is not considered a serious disease but it can hint at an underlying health complication. Constipation can be a result of any of the following

  • Poor dietary and lifestyle choices
  • Lack of exercise
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • A change in the normal routine
  • Eating a large portion of dairy
  • Taking stress
  • Certain medications or supplements
  • Gastric issues like IBS, lazy bowel syndrome, or intestinal obstruction

Treatment of constipation

Constipation can be treated by following simple dietary and lifestyle recommendations. If not treated easily, you should go for proper medications.

Change Your Dietary Habits

 One of the leading causes of constipation is poor lifestyle choices. Rectifying your dietary habits will help a bundle in relieving constipation. You should try and follow the following advice to get yourself out of this discomfort

  • Increase your intake of fibers, by taking more whole grains, fruit, and vegetables.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Drink plenty of coffee. Caffeine can stimulate the muscles of the digestive tract, resulting in more frequent bowel movements.
  • Eat foods rich in probiotics. Foods like yogurt help in maintaining a healthy microbiome in the gut, which in turn helps in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
  • A FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) diet can help relieve constipation associated with IBS ( Irritable Bowel Disease).
  • Eat plenty of prunes. Prunes are not only a good source of fibers but these contain sorbitol, which is a natural laxative that helps in defecation.

Exercise More Often

Increasing your physical activity and exercising regularly will help in regulating your bowel movement. A slow bowel is the basic cause of constipation, and exercise helps in reliving just that.

 Various researches show a positive effect of exercise on constipation. Although few studies negate the direct link between the two, all studies agree that exercise at least helps in relieving the symptoms of constipation.

Manage Stress

Stress shows direct effects on the gut in the form of an upset digestive system. When you are stressed your body releases a hormone called epinephrine, which is responsible for taking the body in a fight or flight response. It causes the body to divert blood flow from the digestive system to other vital organs. Consequently, bowel movements slow down and result in constipation. If you are finding it hard to manage your stress, consult a psychiatrist to find out the root cause of it!

Avoid Certain Medicines And Supplements

You can also find one of your medicines to be disturbing your gut. If you notice any such reaction, it is important to inform your doctor.

Try Over The Counter Medications

If you fail to combat constipation by changing your diet and lifestyle, you should consider taking over the counter meds. Keep in mind that self-medication is the worst practice, before taking any such step consult a specialist. The doctor might assess your condition in detail and prescribe an even more efficient way.

The Bottom Line

Although constipation is not considered a serious health implication, if not treated, it can worsen over time. The pain and discomfort that comes with constipation can be unbearable at times. This might lead you to consult a gastroenterologist, to help you find permanent relief for the problem. Visit to consult with the best doctor online.

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