What Causes Constipation?

Visiting the washroom is part of the daily human experience. But occasionally, constipation strikes, a condition that causes a backup in your digestive system. The food you eat can take several days to exit your body. And for many, constipation can become persistent. When this happens, emptying the bowels can become very painful.
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Constipation generally occurs because too much water is absorbed from food.
 Constipation is caused by physical inactivity, certain medications, and aging.
Constipation is a condition of the digestive system where an individual has hard feces that are difficult to expel. In most cases, this occurs because the colon(large intestine) has absorbed too much water from the food that is in the colon.
Constipation arises in the colon(large intestine). This muscular organ is split into four sections: The ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid colon, which connects with the rectum and anus.
The small intestine delivers stool consisting of ingested food, bile, and digestive juices
to the large intestine. As this stool moves through the colon, the organ siphons off most of the water it contains, transforming it from liquid to solid. The longer this transmission takes, the more reabsorption occurs, resulting in an increasingly solid stool.
Once it reaches the sigmoid colon, a final bout of reabsorption occurs before it enters the rectum, distending its walls and telling the internal anal sphincter to relax.
This is the point where you can usually decide whether to physically expel
or retain the stool. That’s regulated by the pelvic floor muscles, particularly the puborectalis and external anal sphincter. The puborectalis forms a sling-like formation around the rectum called the anorectal angle.
And when you voluntarily relax your external anal sphincter,
the stool is finally expelled. When you’re constipated, however,
a desire to visit the bathroom isn’t enough to coax your body into action.
Usually, there are two factors behind this problem: the stool’s slow movement through the colon and or pelvic floor dysfunction.
In the first, stool moves excessively slowly through the intestines, causing over-absorption of liquid, which makes the stool dry and hard. The slower the food moves through the digestive tract, the more water the colon will absorb from it. Consequently, the feces become dry and hard.
With pelvic floor dysfunction, the stool becomes difficult to eliminate from the rectum
because of tightened pelvic floor muscles, or due to a pelvic organ prolapse,
usually through (childbirth or aging). Both of these problems make the anorectal angle acuter and it becomes difficult to expel waste.
Researchers have developed metrics, to identify constipation precisely, such as the Bristol Stool Chart. Most people who look at that chart will be able to tell they’ve experienced constipation before.


The main symptoms of constipation are increased difficulty and straining when passing stools. It can experience stomach ache, stomach cramps, feeling bloated, nauseous and losing appetite. Passing fewer than three stools a week, Having lumpy or hard stools, Straining to have bowel movements, Feeling as though there’s a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements, Feeling as though you can’t completely empty the stool from your rectum, Needing help to empty your rectum, such as using your hands to press on your abdomen and using a finger to remove stool from your rectum.


This article is taken from the TED-Ed. If you like then you can visit and enjoy it.


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Author: Wan


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