What are the causes of constipation?

There can be many causes of constipation. Some of them are well known and can be attributed to diet and lifestyle. For example, a lack of exercise and activity can cause severe constipation and a diet that is too heavy on processed food and too light on natural fibre will have the same effect.

If you suffer from constipation, making some changes into your life may be enough to cure your constipation symptoms without resorted to constipation treatment such as laxatives.

Ensuring that you eat your five, a day will help. Fruit and vegetables are a great source of fibre and fibre keeps your digestive system and bowels working efficiently

Wholegrain breads and pasta are good sources of fibre too so switching to wholemeal products over white refined carbs should improve your constipation symptoms and may even help you lose weight!

Some foods are notorious causes of constipation. Too much dairy – such as milk and cheese can cause constipation and even too much chocolate may cause you to become constipated. Changing your diet to something healthier may provide a permanent cure for constipation. 

Constipation can be caused by a lack of exercise and this particularly affects elderly people who may not be as active as they once were. However, you don’t have to commit to running the marathon or a gruelling gym regime to improve your constipation symptoms. Even a gentle walk or some housework or gardening may be enough to give you constipation relief.

There are causes of constipation that can be harder to pinpoint.

Some medication will cause constipation as a side effect. Heart and blood pressure medication, painkillers and even vitamin supplements such as iron supplements can lead to constipation. Anti depressants can have the same effect and if you are taking medication and notice that you are suffering from constipation symptoms see your doctor for advice.

If you have already been taking laxatives for constipation relief and have now stopped you may find that your body has become dependent on them. Some laxatives work by stimulating bowel activity causing you a problem once you stop. You should not take laxatives without first consulting your doctor.

If you suffer from acid reflux symptoms, you probably take antacids for relief. These can actually cause constipation symptoms due to their calcium or aluminium content.

Changing your diet to include more natural fibres and cutting out some of the foods to avoid with acid reflux will help you improve your constipation too.

Some medical conditions cause constipation and you do need to check with your doctor to ensure that it is not a symptom of something more serious.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis for example both can cause constipation symptoms and hyperthyroidism (underactive thyroid) can be difficult to spot especially in younger people but often causes constipation symptoms as a side effect.

If you suffer from constipation it is important to seek medical advice. While it may be possible to improve this by making diet and lifestyle changes, your constipation symptoms might be caused by a medical condition that needs further treatment.


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