Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Causes of Constipation: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Causes of Constipation: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Some people with IBS, also known as spastic colon, have spasms in the colon that affect bowel movements. Constipation and diarrhea often alternate, and abdominal cramping, gassiness, and bloating are other common complaints. Although IBS can produce lifelong symptoms, it is not a life-threatening condition. It often worsens with stress, but there is no specific cause or anything unusual that the doctor can see in the colon.

Causes of Constipation: Changes in Life or Routine
During pregnancy, women may be constipated because of hormonal changes or because the heavy uterus compresses the intestine. Aging may also affect bowel regularity because a slower metabolism results in less intestinal activity and muscle tone. In addition, people often become constipated when traveling because their normal diet and daily routines are disrupted.

Causes of Constipation: Abuse of Laxatives
Myths about constipation have led to a serious abuse of laxatives. This is common among people who are preoccupied with having a daily bowel movement.
Laxatives usually are not necessary and can be habit-forming. The colon begins to rely on laxatives to bring on bowel movements. Over time, laxatives can damage nerve cells in the colon and interfere with the colon's natural ability to contract. For the same reason, regular use of enemas can also lead to a loss of normal bowel function.

Causes of Constipation: Ignoring the Urge to Have a Bowel Movement
People who ignore the urge to have a bowel movement may eventually stop feeling the urge, which can lead to constipation. Some people delay having a bowel movement because they do not want to use toilets outside the home. Others ignore the urge because of emotional stress or because they are too busy. Children may postpone having a bowel movement because of stressful toilet training or because they do not want to interrupt their play.

Causes of Constipation: Specific Diseases
Diseases that cause constipation include neurological disorders, metabolic and endocrine disorders, and systemic conditions that affect organ systems. These disorders can slow the movement of stool through the colon, rectum, or anus.

Several kinds of diseases can cause constipation:

Causes of Constipation: Neurological disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction
  • stroke
  • spinal cord injuries

Causes of Constipation: Metabolic and endocrine conditions

  • diabetes
  • underactive or overactive thyroid gland
  • uremia
  • hypercalcemia

Causes of Constipation: Systemic disorders

  • amyloidosis
  • lupus
  • scleroderma

Article provided by the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

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