What is Constipation?

Constipation is a very common problem, for some people it is pretty serious.

The incidence of constipation in western societies ranges between 10-27%. It may occur at any age, but it is definitely more common in people aged >60 years (~20%) and reaches 40% in people aged >75. Constipation is more common among women than among men at a ~2.5/1 ratio.

The term constipation does not suggest a disease but, rather, a range of symptoms associated with the movement of the large bowel and/or the mechanism of defecation.

The evaluation of constipation is a very personal matter.

When is an individual characterized as constipated?;

Before starting treatment, you should make sure that you actually have constipation.
Start with this check list. If your answer is “yes” to more than two of the
following symptoms for at least 12 weeks, you most likely have constipation.

Do you frequently feel pressure in your abdomen and bowel?
Are your faeces hard and is your defecation painful?
Do you feel nauseous?
Do you frequently suffer from stomach cramps and is your stomach bloated?

Do you feel that your bowel is blocked?
Do you feel the need to visit the toilet less than 3 times a week?
Do you have a feeling of incomplete evacuation?

What is the cause of constipation?

Constipation has many possible causes, including::

  • Travelling and in general, changes of your daily habits.
  • Stress.
  • Low-fiber diet and low fluid intake.
  • Decreased physical activity and sedentary work.
  • Medication including iron supplements, anti-hypertensives, analgesics, aluminium, and calcium containing antacids, tricyclic antidepressants, anti-Parkinson drugs.
  • Increased and chronic use of addictive laxatives.
  • Hormone changes during pregnancy.
  • Menopause.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (formerly called “spastic colitis”).
  • Neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Psychiatric diseases.
  • Metabolic diseases including diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, etc.
  • Functional disorders of defecation (obstruction, constrictions etc.)