Constipation is a common condition that affects people of all ages. It can mean that you're not passing stools regularly or you're unable to completely empty your bowel. Constipation can also cause your stools to be hard and lumpy, as well as unusually large or small. The severity of constipation varies from person to person. Many people only experience constipation for a short time, but for others, constipation can be a long-term (chronic) condition that causes significant pain and discomfort and affects quality of life.
It's often difficult to identify the exact cause of constipation. However, there are a number of things that contribute to the condition, including:
- Not eating enough fibre, such as fruit, vegetables and cereals, a change in your routine or lifestyle, such as a change in your eating habits
- Ignoring the urge to pass stools
- Side effects of certain medications
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Anxiety or depression
In children, poor diet, fear of using the toilet and problems related to toilet training can all lead to constipation. Making diet and lifestyle changes can help to reduce your risk of developing constipation in the first place. Giving yourself enough time and privacy to pass stools comfortably may also help, and you should try not to ignore the urge to go to the toilet.