What Else Leads to Constipation?
People who ignore the urge to have a bowel movement may eventually stop feeling the urge, which can lead to constipation. Some people delay having a bowel movement because they do not want to use toilets outside the home. Others ignore the urge because of emotional stress or because they are too busy. Children may postpone having a bowel movement because of stressful toilet training or because they do not want to interrupt their play.
Diseases that can cause constipation include neurological disorders (disorders of the nerves and brain), metabolic and endocrine disorders, and systemic conditions that affect a person's organs. These disorders can slow the movement of stool through the colon, rectum, or anus. A few examples include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson's disease
- Chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction
- Spinal cord injuries.
Metabolic and Endocrine Conditions
Intestinal obstruction, scar tissue (adhesions), diverticulosis, tumors, colorectal stricture, Hirschsprung's disease, or cancer can compress, squeeze, or narrow the intestine and rectum and cause constipation.
Some people have chronic constipation that does not respond to standard treatment. This rare condition, known as idiopathic (of unknown origin) chronic constipation, may be related to problems with how the intestines function. This could be due to problems with hormonal control or with the nerves and muscles in the colon, rectum, or anus. This type of constipation (also known as functional constipation) occurs in both children and adults and is most common in women.
Colonic inertia and delayed transit are two types of functional constipation caused by decreased muscle activity in the colon. These syndromes may affect the entire colon or may be confined to the lower (sigmoid) colon.
Functional constipation that stems from abnormalities in the structure of the anus and rectum is known as anorectal dysfunction, or anismus. These abnormalities result in an inability to relax the rectal and anal muscles that allow stool to exit.