Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.


infrequent or difficult passage of feces. Constipation may be caused by the lack of adequate roughage or fluid in the diet, prolonged physical inactivity, certain drugs, or emotional disturbance. Sudden unexplained changes in bowel habits can be a symptom of a serious disorder (such as lower intestinal obstruction by a growth) and should receive medical attention. Most cases of constipation can be relieved by following a diet that includes adequate roughage and fluid and by establishing regular habits of evacuation. The continued use of laxatives is inadvisable. Daily bowel movements are not essential; many persons suffer from the harm caused by constant use of laxatives and enemas in an effort to establish the desired regularity.



prolonged (more than 48 hours) retention of stools or, when there is a daily stool, difficulty in evacuating the intestinal tract, accompanied by a feeling of incomplete discharge.

Constipation is classified according to its causes as alimentary, or dietary, connected with the habitual intake of minced food that is poor in cellulose, insufficient intake of liquids, and so on; neurogenic, caused by disturbances of the conditioned reflexes (systematic suppression of the urge to defecate) and diseases of the viscera, genital organs, spinal cord, and brain; inflammatory, in diseases of the intestinal tract itself (colitis, hemorrhoids, anal fissures and fistulas); mechanical, caused by the development of an obstruction in the lumen of the intestine (tumors, fecal stones, pressure from adhesions); toxic, from poisoning by certain substances (lead, morphine, atropine); and endocrine, caused by functional disturbances of the ovaries? thyroid, or pituitary.

A sedentary life, and the obesity and pulmonary emphysema associated with it, predispose to constipation. In neglected cases of constipation there may be heart palpitations, pains in the region of the heart, headaches, dizziness, weakness, and depression. Patients often feel considerably worse because of an erroneous notion of the great danger of ordinary constipation. They are troubled by eructation, poor appetite, distortions of taste perception, rapid satiation, a feeling of fullness in the stomach, incomplete evacuation of the intestine, coliclike pains in the abdomen, and unpleasant sensations and itching in the anus. The pains are especially intense in the presence of hemorrhoids and inflammation of the rectum. Sometimes changes in the liver and biliary tract are observed. With chronic constipation, the acidity of the gastric juice may be elevated. The skin loses its elasticity and becomes flabby; sometimes hair loss and brittleness of the nails are observed. The feces may resemble those of sheep. In constipation it is important to examine the rectum (rectoromanoscopy, X ray).

Treatment, depending on the individual characteristics of the patient and the form of constipation, includes evacuant enemas, a diet with a large amount of roughage (sour black Borodino bread, cabbage, carrots, sugar beets, tomatoes, and fruits—apricots, grapes, muskmelon, watermelon); acidophilous milk, one- or two-day kefir, koumiss, lemonade, Russian kvass, and sour cabbage soup. If the patient is not obese, products with a large amount of fats are also recommended (dairy butter, vegetable oils, cod liver oil, sprats, sardines). If there are no disturbances of blood circulation, intake of an adequate amount of fluids (cold water, water with sugar or preserves) is recommended. Cocoa, wine, rice, white bread, chocolate, black coffee, strong tea, red whortleberry, bilberry, and strained foods are not permitted. Treatment for neurogenic constipation consists in removal of the primary causes and the use of tranquilizers. Used in all forms of constipation are therapeutic exercises, abdominal massage, physiotherapy, pelotherapy, and mineral waters (Essentuki No. 17, Batalinskaia, Borzhomi, Karlovy Vary). Laxatives are not recommended for alimentary, endocrine, or neurogenic constipation. Camomile infusion, a solution of table salt, or vegetable oil is used in enemas. Constipation caused by local affection of the intestinal tract and gallbladder is eliminated by treatment of those diseases. Preventive measures include avoiding cold, dry foods and long intervals between meals; learning to eat, from childhood, an adequate amount of vegetables; and developing the habit from early childhood of evacuating the bowel at a definite time. A generally hygienic way of life and occupation with physical labor and sports are of great importance in preventing constipation.



The passage of hard, dry stools.


infrequent or difficult evacuation of the bowels, with hard faeces, caused by functional or organic disorders or improper diet
References in periodicals archive ?
Some of the common symptoms of opioid-induced constipation are hard and dry stools, painful defecation, bloating, distention and bulged abdomen, feeling lethargic, and loss of appetite.
In Leicestershire approximately 25% of children who receive input from the specialist health visiting (SHV) team present with constipation.
u be The good news is that constipation usually gets better in the last three months, but you can help it along by raising your intake of fibre, drinking lots of fluid and walking every day.
Yishai Ron, MD, lead researcher for the study and director of Neurogastroenterology and Motility at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center's Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, said despite the widespread use of medication to treat constipation, nearly 50 percent of patients are unsatisfied with the treatment either because of side effects, safety concerns about long-term use, or the fact that it simply doesn't work.
Definitions of constipation do not rely on the absolute number of bowel movements, since the average "normal" number of bowel motions ranges from three times per week to three times per day.
GEORGE, Utah -- The Squatty Potty, a toilet footstool leading the squatting movement worldwide, is alleviating suffering from constipation and helping improve colon health in Americans by changing toilet posture.
The risk of colorectal cancer and benign neoplasms among those with chronic constipation remained "consistently high" after researchers controlled for potential confounding factors, including age, gender, family history of malignancies, and other nongastrointestinal morbidities, said Dr.
The symptoms experienced by patients with IBS-C and chronic idiopathic constipation can have a significant impact on affected individuals, said William D.
Phase II clinical trials with elobixibat in patients with chronic constipation conducted in USA and Europe have demonstrated clinically meaningful, statistically significant and dose-dependent improvement on key constipation and IBS-C symptoms such as bowel movement frequency, straining, stool consistency and bloating.
The constipation improved dramatically and she passed stools every day.
The frequent use of narcotics in these patients, especially in young children, is effective, but leads to mild constipation.