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Constipation occurs when bowel movements occur less often than three times per week. Dry, small, hard stools that are difficult to eliminate are characteristic. However, infrequent elimination of three or more times a week may be normal for some people and does not signal constipation.

Some people think constipation is a condition, but it is really just a symptom. If it is a temporary, occasional occurrence, then it probably isn't anything to be concerned over. It is often experienced by pregnant women, or those who have recently given birth but it is most common in women over the age of sixty-five.

Most of the problems from constipation come from the colon. This is the area where water is absorbed from the food that is digested. Stools are formed and then muscles push them out of the rectum. If the colon absorbs too much water, the result is dry stools that move too slowly through the colon.

One of the biggest causes of constipation is a lack of fiber in the diet. We get fiber from eating fruits and vegetables, as well as grains. Some fiber is soluble, which means it will dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber passes through the intestines almost unchanged. Fiber keeps things moving smoothly through the colon.

Sometimes people put off the urge to have a bowel movement which can result in losing the urge to have them. Children are more likely than anyone to put off having a bowel movement because they don't want to interrupt their play. Some medications can cause constipation as well as some types of illnesses.

Regardless of what causes constipation, the most common treatment is the use of laxatives. If this is a temporary condition, laxatives will probably take care of the problem. However, if this is an ongoing problem that you treat with laxatives on a regular basis, you are in danger of causing damage to your digestive system. Laxatives can be addictive to the point that you may come to rely on them just to have a bowel movement.

Some people believe that constipation occurs when food and toxins build up in their body. Dried feces sticks to the intestinal walls and toxins that result from eating junk food never pass from their body. Over a period of time, they believe the body begins poisoning itself. Colon cleansing has gotten to be a popular way of flushing out the digestion tract.

Colon flushing also involves using fiber as a way to clean out your digestive system. This is a process that is performed over a period of several weeks, as opposed to taking a laxative which usually works in a matter of hours. Colon cleansing is also said to clean out parasites that a majority of people have in their systems.

What do professionals say? Many of them criticize the methods used to cleanse one's colon. They say that the reality is, all the things people claim to "wash out" of their digestive tracts simply don't exist. It can cause your colon not to be able to absorb the nutrients that it normally does and it may lead to dehydration. Since dehydration is part of the problem in the first place, it may only increase the constipation.

If it's occasional, treat it with a laxative. If it's more frequent, get a diagnosis to be sure you don't increase the problem.

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What Causes Constipation?