7 Common Causes of Constipation

Constipation is a common complaint that affects most people at some point in their lifetime. The causes of constipation are many and varied. Sometimes they are interconnected and work together to cause constipation or make it worse. The following are 7 of some of the most common causes of constipation, in no particular order.


A lot of drugs are known to cause constipation. Perhaps the most cited constipation causing medication is the opioids painkillers, which include codeine and morphine. And perhaps, the most surprising piece of information is that injudicious use of stimulant laxatives, like senna, often employed unwisely by those trying to lose weight, may lead to chronic constipation. This is because prolonged use of stimulant laxatives may lead to lose of normal muscle tone or strength and sensitivity in the colon, producing the constipation. A lot of ther drugs, including some antidepressants, iron, anti-parkinsons medication, and some antihistamines may also cause constipation – the list is too long to put up here.

Ignoring The Urge To Empty The Bowels

The longer it stays in, the more water is reabsorbed leaving dryer matter which is harder to move and may even cause pain. This pain may be enough to cause some people, especially children to avoid going to the toilet, which further compounds the problem. In some people, especially adults, anal fissures and haemorrhoids, may develop causing extreme pain and anal bleeding. As well as the increased constipation because of avoidance due to anal pain, the fissures and haemorrhoids produce anal spasms which delay bowel movement, making problem worse. That is, the constipation makes anal fissures and haemorrhoids worse, and they in turn aggravate the constipation, in a vicious cycle of pain and anal bleeding.
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Inactivity and Immobility

This is usually due to prolonged bad rest, which is common after an accident is one of the most common causes of constipation. A general lack of acivity and exercise predisposes one to constipation. Under normal circumstances, exercise helps reduce the time it takes food to move through the large intestines. Water is withdrawn from the faecal matter as it transits the large intestines, and the longer the transit time, the more water is lost, potentially resulting in constipation. Because inactivity and immobility increase the transit time of faecal matter, they promote constipation, which is one of the main reason the elderly are commonly affected by constipation.


Constipation is very common in pregnancy, most notably in the latter stages, due to reduced gastrointestinal movement and increased bowel transit time. This is because of the pressure of the baby, in the womb, on the bowels, which causes delayed bowel emptying. Hormonal changes in pregnancy, when the body produces more of the female hormone progesterone, accounts for some of the constipation during pregnancy.

Poor Diet

Diets low in fibre predispose one to constipation. These diets tend to be high in animal fats and refined sugar. In general, diets lacking or low in fruits and vegetables tend to contain insufficient amounts of fibre, and do very little to prevent constipation. Fibre helps the bowel contents to retain water and fluids, as well as stimulating bowel movements, thereby preventing or treating constipation.

Disease And Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions, like inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), can leave sufferers constipated. In IBS, spasms of the colon delay transit of intestinal contents and hence the constipation. Other medical conditions that can cause constipation include lupus, parkinson’s disease and stroke.


This one is self-explanatory. If the body is dehydrated it will try to conserve as much water as possible, and this means a limited amount is available in the bowel, which in turn results in constipation.