What is constipation?
Constipation is an acute or chronic condition in which bowel movements occur less often than usual or consist of hard, dry stools that are painful or difficult to pass. Bowel habits vary, but an adult who has not had a bowel movement in two days or a child who has not had a bowel movement in three days is considered constipated.
Constipation is common; in the general population incidence of constipation varies from 2 to 30%.
Constipation is a symptom with many causes. These causes are of two types: obstructed defecation and colonic slow transit (or hypomobility). About 50% of patients evaluated for constipation at tertiary referral hospitals have obstructed defecation. This type of constipation has mechanical and functional causes. Causes of colonic slow 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.
Difference between obstipation and constipation
Constipation is the condition wherein an individual has three or less bowel movements in one week; lacks a regular bowel movement. The stool is dry and hard to eliminate making the person strain during bowel movement. Individuals who are constipated sometimes feel pain during the process of elimination.
Obstipation is a severe, persistent constipation that may be due to intestinal obstruction
Constipation is more common in women than in men and is especially apt to occur during pregnancy. Age alone does not increase the frequency of constipation, but elderly people (especially women) are more likely to suffer from constipation.
- bowel obstruction
- chronic constipation
- hemorrhoids (a mass of dilated veins in swollen tissue around the anus)
- hernia (a protrusion of an organ through a tear in the muscle wall)
- spastic colitis (irritable bowel syndrome, a condition characterized by alternating periods of diarrhea and constipation)
- laxative dependency