Constipation means that a person has three or fewer bowel movements in a week. The stool can be hard and dry. Sometimes it is painful to pass. Severe constipation includes obstipation or failure to pass stools or gas and faecal impaction. Constipation is common; in the general population incidence of constipation varies from 2 to 30%. Almost everyone gets constipated sometime or other. In most cases, it lasts a short time and is not serious. Constipation in children usually occurs at stages: after starting formula food during infancy, during toilet training when a toddler, and soon after starting school. By the age of two years, children usually have 1–2 bowel movements per day and by the age of four they have one bowel movement per day.
What are the causes?
The causes of constipation can be divided into congenital, primary, and secondary. The most common cause is primary and not life threatening. In the elderly, causes include: insufficient dietary fibre intake, inadequate fluid intake, decreased physical activity, side effects of medications like antihistamines, diuretics, blood-pressure drugs, some tranquillisers, pain killers, calcium supplements, antacids and antidepressants, hypothyroidism.