More Details on Constipation Risk Factors
Some medications can cause constipation. These medications include:
- Pain medications (especially narcotics)
- Antacids that contain aluminum and calcium
- Blood pressure medications (calcium channel blockers)
- Antiparkinsonism drugs
- Iron supplements
Some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also known as spastic colon, have spasms in the colon that affect bowel movements. Constipation and diarrhea often alternate in these people, and abdominal cramping, gassiness, and bloating are other common complaints. Although IBS can produce lifelong symptoms, it is not a life-threatening condition. It often becomes worse with stress, but there is no specific cause or anything unusual that the doctor can see in the colon.
Changes in Life or RoutinePregnancy is another possible cause of this condition. During pregnancy, women may become constipated because of hormonal changes or because the heavy uterus compresses the intestine. Aging may also affect bowel regularity because a slower metabolism results in less intestinal activity and muscle tone. In addition, people often become constipated when traveling because their normal diet and daily routines are disrupted.
Myths about constipation have led to a serious abuse of laxatives. Laxative abuse is common among people who are preoccupied with having a daily bowel movement.
Laxatives usually are not necessary and can be habit-forming. The colon begins to rely on laxatives to bring on bowel movements. Over time, laxatives can damage nerve cells in the colon and interfere with its natural ability to contract. For the same reason, regular use of enemas can also lead to a loss of normal bowel function.