Constipation is a common condition that usually occurs when bowel movements become less frequent or difficult. The average gap between bowel movements may differ from one person to another. Some individuals may have bowel movements up to three times in a day, while some others may have just two or three bowel movements in a week. However, a gap of three days or longer in considered unhealthy for bowel movements. The stool becomes harder after three days, which makes it more difficult to pass.

A person can be said to be suffering from constipation, if he or she suffers from at least two of the following for a period of three consecutive months or more:

Exerting strain during a bowel movement more than 25 percent of the times.
One in four stools is abnormally hard.
Incomplete evacuation occurring one in four times.
Two or fewer bowel moments occurring in a week.


Constipation is usually not a structural problem, but occurs due to a disorder of the bowel function. Some of the common causes of constipation may include the following:

• Insufficient fiber intake
• Insufficient water intake
• Lack of physical exercise
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Disruption of regular diet and routine
• Eating dairy or meat products in excess
• Anxiety and stress
• Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement
• Excessive use of laxatives, which can weaken bowel muscles
• Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
• Hypothyroidism
• Depression
• Eating Disorders
• Antacid medications
• Pregnancy
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Colon cancer


Common symptoms of constipation may include the following:

o Pain during bowel movements
o Difficulty to have bowel movements
o Long gap between bowel movements
o Abdominal pain
o Swollen abdomen
o Vomiting tendency

Natural Measures

A person suffering from constipation can undertake the following natural measures to address the condition:

➢ Add plenty of fiber to the daily diet
➢ Drink water sufficiently during the day
➢ Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables
➢ Eat bran cereal or prunes for breakfast
➢ Drink warm liquids in the morning

Mild laxative may be used in occasion situations. However, any laxative must not be continued for more than two weeks. If the constipation is not relieved through natural measures, consult a physician. Excess use of laxatives may cause chronic constipation and result in other health concerns as well.

Encino Medical