Constipation - Possible Causes

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What are the causes of constipation?

There are many causes of constipation including:

  • Diets low in fiber. Fiber is vegetable material resistant to digestion that promotes soft stools by adding bulk to the stool and causing water to be retained in stool.
  • Side effects of medications such as narcotic painkillers, antidepressants, iron supplements, calcium channel blockers (medications for high blood pressure), and certain types of antacids.
  • Narrowing or blockage of the large intestine (colon) due to scarring from previous surgery, colon cancer or advanced diverticulosis.
  • Ineffective contraction or spasm of the colon's muscles due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other diseases of the colon's muscles.
  • Hormonal (endocrine) disturbances such as an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroid) and diabetes mellitus with nerve damage.
  • Neurologic conditions such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and others.

Examples of common medications that can cause constipation:

  • Narcotic pain medications: codeine (Tylenol #3), oxycodone (Percocet), guaifenesin/hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and others
  • Antidepressants: amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep), fluoxetine (Prozac), and imipramine (Tofranil)
  • Anticonvulsants: phenytoin (Dilantin) and carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Iron supplements
  • Calcium channel blockers (for example, diltiazem [Cardizem] and nifedipine [Procardia])
  • Antacids (for example, aluminum hydroxide [Amphojel] and aluminum carbonate [Basaljel])
Return to Laxatives for Constipation

See what others are saying

Comment from: Kathleen, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 24

I have always struggled with constipation but my current bout is due to prescription pain relievers for shoulder surgery, as well as lower activity. My stool became impacted even though I had been drinking lots of water and taking Colace. I finally got myself cleared out and am taking senna, Miralax, and Metamucil. I hope this mix will help.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: art, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: January 22

Helicobacter pylori is the cause of my constipation. I have not gone in over 10 days. I do enemas all of the time.

Was this comment helpful?Yes


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