Constipation

Constipation

Constipation refers to bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass. Constipation is a common cause of painful defecation. Severe constipation includes obstipation (failure to pass stools or gas) and fecal impaction (a colon impacted with stool over a long period).

Constipation is common and it is a symptom of obstructed defecation and slow colonic transit (or hypomobility). Causes of slow colonic transit constipation include diet, hormones, side effects of medications, and heavy metal toxicity.

Treatments include changes in dietary habits, laxatives, enemas, biofeedback, and surgery. Because constipation is a symptom, not a disease, effective treatment of constipation may require first determining the cause.