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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,
  • inactivity,
  • 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

Factor Examples
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


Learn more about medications that may affect colonic function

Last modified on February 10, 2016 at 03:38:21 PM