NHS Choices Condition

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Constipation is a very common condition that affects people of all ages. It can mean that you are not passing stools (faeces) as often as you normally do, or you have to strain more than usual, or you are unable to completely empty your bowels.

Constipation can also cause your stools to be unusually hard, lumpy, large or small.

The severity of constipation can vary greatly. Many people only experience constipation for a short period of time, with no lasting effects on their health.

Chronic constipation

For others, constipation can be a chronic (long-term) condition that causes significant pain and discomfort. Chronic constipation can also lead to complications, such as faecal impaction (where dry, hard stools collect in your rectum) or faecal incontinence (where you leak liquid stools).

Who is affected

Constipation can occur in babies, children and adults, and affects twice as many women than men.

Older people are five times more likely than younger adults to experience the condition, usually because of diet factors, lack of exercise, use of medication and poor bowel habits.

Approximately 40% of pregnant women experience constipation during their pregnancy.

Outlook

Treatment for constipation is usually effective, although in some cases it can take several months before a regular bowel pattern is re-established (see Treatment for more information).

Constipation rarely causes any complications or long-term health problems.

view information about Constipation on www.nhs.co.uk »

Important Notice

The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.


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