Not eating enough fiber or drinking enough water, not getting enough exercise, and not taking the time to respond to an unmistakable urge to go to the bathroom. Emotional and psychological problems can contribute to the problem. Persistent, chronic constipation may also be a symptom of more serious conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, an underactive thyroid gland, and depression.
Bowel habits tend to vary with age and circumstances. Bottle-fed babies, for example, tend to have firmer stools and more bouts of constipation than breast-fed babies. Some children become constipated when they start school or other activities because they are embarrassed to ask permission to use the toilet. Toddlers often become constipated during toilet training if he or she is unwilling or afraid to use the toilet. Being sensitive to pain, children may avoid the toilet if they have minor splits or tears in the anus from straining or other irritations.
Older people, especially those who are more sedentary, tend to develop constipation more often as well.
Medications can also cause constipation. They include narcotics, iron supplements, and some drugs used to control blood pressure.
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Archived: March 20, 2014
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