What is Constipation?

Constipation is a common digestive complaint characterized by hard, dry stools and difficulty passing them. It can be caused by a number of factors, including not eating enough fiber and drinking enough water, medications, and medical conditions. It can be uncomfortable and can result in pain or cramping when passing stools. Treatment for constipation varies based on the cause and includes lifestyle changes and medications.

Causes Of Constipation

Some of the common causes of constipation include:

  • Not eating enough fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains
  • Drinking too little water
  • Lack of exercise
  • Medications (especially certain types of painkillers and antidepressants)
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause
  • Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
  • Medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, or Parkinson's disease

Symptoms of Constipation

Common symptoms of constipation include:

  • Straining to pass stools
  • Having fewer than three bowel movements in a week
  • Not feeling like you have finished passing a bowel movement
  • Having lumpy or hard stools
  • Having stools that are very small or large
  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen
  • Overall feeling of being unwell


Treatment for constipation can vary depending on the cause. Common treatments include:

  • Eating more fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Taking a fiber supplement, such as psyllium
  • Taking a laxative, which can help increase fiber in the diet
  • Managing any underlying medical condition


Constipation is very common and can be caused by any number of factors. Fortunately, it can usually be treated with a few simple changes, such as eating a diet high in fiber. If lifestyle changes and medications don't seem to help, talk to your doctor about other options for managing constipation.