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Updated: Jul 5, 2021

Constipation is the infrequent and difficult passage of stool. The frequency of bowel movements varies among healthy individuals ranging from three bowel movements a day to three a week. Constipation is generally described as having fewer than three bowel movements a week.

Though occasional constipation is quite common, some people experience chronic constipation that can interfere with their ability to go about their daily routine.


Signs and symptoms of chronic constipation include:

· Passing fewer than three stools per week.

· Having hard lumpy stool.

· Straining to have a bowel movement.

· Feeling as though you cannot completely empty the stool from your rectum.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of chronic constipation include:

· Being an older adult

· Eating a low fiber diet

· Getting little or no physical activity

· Being dehydrated

· Taking certain medications including opioid pain medications, sedatives or medications to lower blood pressure.


Complications of chronic include:

· Hemorrhoids. These are swollen veins in and around the anus which are the result of straining to have a bowel movement.

· Anal fissure. This is torn skin in your anus. A hard stool can cause tears in the anus.

· Fecal Impaction. This happens when stool cannot be expelled.

· Rectal prolapse. Intestine that protrudes from the anus due to straining.

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience persistent changes in your bowel habits.

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