There are many possible causes of chronic constipation. But in most cases, no cause can be identified. Such constipation may be said to be "idiopathic" or "functional." That means there is a problem with the way the body is working.
Constipation can be made worse by one or more of the following:
- poor general health,
- use of certain medications,
- laxative abuse,
- depression or psychological distress,
- low fiber diet, or
- certain medical diseases.
Often, more than one factor contributes to the constipation. Here is a list of common examples.
Factors that may Cause Constipation
|Functional/idiopathic||Constipation with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), idiopathic (unexplained) normal transit constipation, slow-transit constipation, pelvic floor dysfunction (obstructive)|
|Congenital (present at birth)||Hirschsprung's disease|
|Structural||Stricture, rectocele, intestinal pseudo-obstruction|
|Dietary||Inadequate fiber intake, inadequate caloric intake|
|Environmental||Compromised mobility, inadequate toileting facilities|
|Myopathic (abnormality of the muscles)||Systemic sclerosis|
|Neurogenic (arising from the nervous system)||Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury|
|Endocrine/metabolic||Diabetes mellitus, hyperparathyroidism, hypothyroidism, pregnancy, scleroderma|
|Pharmacologic (Medications)||Analgesics, anticholinergics, antidepressants, antihypertensives, antiparkinsonian agents, diuretics, possibly long-term laxative use, narcotics|