Have a symptom?
See what questions
a doctor would ask.

Causes of Constipation

List of causes of Constipation

Following is a list of causes or underlying conditions (see also Misdiagnosis of underlying causes of Constipation) that could possibly cause Constipation includes:

More causes:see full list of causes for Constipation

Causes of Constipation (Diseases Database):

The follow list shows some of the possible medical causes of Constipation that are listed by the Diseases Database:

Source: Diseases Database

Constipation: Related Medical Conditions

To research the causes of Constipation, consider researching the causes of these these diseases that may be similar, or associated with Constipation:

Constipation: Causes and Types

Causes of Types of Constipation: Review the cause informationfor the various types of Constipation:

  • Common constipation - occasional constipation
  • Chronic constipation
  • Travel-related constipation
  • Age-related constipation
  • Pregnancy-related constipation
  • Chronic idiopathic constipation
  • more types...»

Causes of Broader Categories of Constipation: Review the causal information about the various more general categories of medical conditions:

Constipation as a complication of other conditions:

Other conditions that might have Constipation as a complication may, potentially, be an underlying cause of Constipation. Our database lists the following as having Constipation as a complication of that condition:

Constipation as a symptom:

Conditions listing Constipation as a symptom may also be potential underlying causes of Constipation. Our database lists the following as having Constipation as a symptom of that condition:

Medications or substances causing Constipation:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Constipation as a symptom. This list is incomplete and various other drugs or substances may cause your symptoms. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Drug interactions causing Constipation:

When combined, certain drugs, medications, substances or toxins may react causing Constipation as a symptom.

The list below is incomplete and various other drugs or substances may cause your symptoms. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

  • Cyclobenzaprine and narcotic pain reliever interaction
  • Flexeril and narcotic pain reliever interaction
  • Cyclobenzaprine and ipratropium interaction
  • Flexeril and ipratropium interaction
  • Cyclobenzaprine and other anticholinergic drug interaction
  • more interactions...»

What causes Constipation?

Article excerpts about the causes of Constipation:

Constipation: NIDDK (Excerpt)


The most common cause of constipation is a diet low in fiber found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and high in fats found in cheese, eggs, and meats. People who eat plenty of high-fiber foods are less likely to become constipated.

Fiber--soluble and insoluble--is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like texture in the intestines. Insoluble fiber passes almost unchanged through the intestines. The bulk and soft texture of fiber help prevent hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.

On average, Americans eat about 5 to 20 grams of fiber daily, short of the 20 to 35 grams recommended by the American Dietetic Association. Both children and adults eat too many refined and processed foods in which the natural fiber is removed.

A low-fiber diet also plays a key role in constipation among older adults. They often lack interest in eating and may choose fast foods low in fiber. In addition, loss of teeth may force older people to eat soft foods that are processed and low in fiber.

Not Enough Liquids

Liquids like water and juice add fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass. People who have problems with constipation should drink enough of these liquids every day, about eight 8-ounce glasses. Other liquids, like coffee and soft drinks, that contain caffeine seem to have a dehydrating effect.

Lack of Exercise

Lack of exercise can lead to constipation, although doctors do not know precisely why. For example, constipation often occurs after an accident or during an illness when one must stay in bed and cannot exercise.


Pain medications (especially narcotics), antacids that contain aluminum, antispasmodics, antidepressants, iron supplements, diuretics, and anticonvulsants for epilepsy can slow passage of bowel movements.

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.

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.

Abuse of Laxatives

Myths about constipation have led to a serious abuse of laxatives. This is common among older adults 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.

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.

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. Figure 3 lists the diseases that cause constipation.

Figure 3

Diseases That Cause Constipation

Neurological disorders that may cause constipation include:
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction
  • Stroke
  • Spinal cord injuries.
Metabolic and endocrine conditions include:
  • Diabetes
  • Underactive or overactive thyroid gland
  • Uremia.
Systemic disorders include:
  • Amyloidosis
  • Lupus
  • Scleroderma.

Problems with the Colon and Rectum

Intestinal obstruction, scar tissue (adhesions), diverticulosis, tumors, colorectal stricture, Hirschsprung's disease, or cancer can compress, squeeze, or narrow the intestine and rectum and cause constipation.

Problems with Intestinal Function (Chronic Idiopathic Constipation)

Also known as functional constipation, chronic idiopathic (of unknown origin) constipation is rare. However, some people are chronically constipated and do not respond to standard treatment. This chronic constipation may be related to multiple problems with hormonal control or with nerves and muscles in the colon, rectum, or anus. Functional constipation occurs in both children and adults and is most common in women.

Colonic inertia and delayed transit are two types of functional constipation caused by decreased muscle activity in the colon. These syndromes may affect the entire colon or may be confined to the left or lower (sigmoid) colon.

Functional constipation that stems from abnormalities in the structure of the anus and rectum is known as anorectal dysfunction, or anismus. These abnormalities result in an inability to relax the rectal and anal muscles that allow stool to exit. (Source: excerpt from Constipation: NIDDK)

Constipation -- Age Page -- Health Information: NIA (Excerpt)

People may become constipation if they start eating fewer vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. These foods are all high in fiber, and, according to some studies, high fiber diets can help prevent constipation. Eating more high fat meats, dairy products, and eggs can be another cause of constipation. So can eating more rich desserts and other sweets high in refined sugars.

People who live alone may lose interest in cooking and eating. As a result they start using a lot of convenience foods. These tend to be low in fiber, so they may help cause constipation. In addition, bad teeth may cause older people to choose soft, processed foods that contain little, if any, fiber. (Source: excerpt from Constipation -- Age Page -- Health Information: NIA)

Constipation -- Age Page -- Health Information: NIA (Excerpt)

Lack of exercise or lengthy bedrest, such as after an accident or illness, may cause constipation. For people who stay in bed and who suffer from chronic constipation, medications may be the best solution. But simply being more active, when possible, is best.

If people ignore the natural urge to have a bowel movement, they may become constipated. Some people prefer to have their bowel movements only at home, but holding a bowel movement can cause ill effects if the delay is too long. (Source: excerpt from Constipation -- Age Page -- Health Information: NIA)

Medical news summaries relating to Constipation:

The following medical news items are relevant to causes of Constipation:

Related information on causes of Constipation:

As with all medical conditions, there may be many causal factors. Further relevant information on causes of Constipation may be found in:


By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use. Information provided on this site is for informational purposes only; it is not intended as a substitute for advice from your own medical team. The information on this site is not to be used for diagnosing or treating any health concerns you may have - please contact your physician or health care professional for all your medical needs. Please see our Terms of Use.

Home | Symptoms | Diseases | Diagnosis | Videos | Tools | Forum | About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Advertise