Constipation is a difficulty in passing stool and is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Difficulty in passing stools (straining, time taken);
- Hard and lumpy stools, often dark in color;
- Irregular bowel movements;
- Infrequent bowel movements;
- Feeling of incomplete defecation;
- Abdominal discomfort and bloating;
Bowel movement frequency varies between individuals. For one person, it may be normal to have three bowel movements per day for another person three bowel movements per week is sufficient.
A person having less frequent bowel movements may be considered constipated if the frequency changed from the previous pattern, but not necessarily if this is a usual frequency and other symptoms are absent.
There are various causes of constipation, including medical disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome or depression, some medications or supplements, side effects of certain operations, a diet low in fiber or unknown causes – chronic idiopathic constipation. (1)