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What Causes Constipation?

Constipation can be extremely painful and debilitating. But what causes this uncomfortable condition? There could be several factors at play that are causing your digestive system to slow down. Luckily, you can easily remedy these symptoms with simple changes in your daily life or by talking to your doctor.

Changes in Routine

One of the most common ways of getting constipation includes a change in routine.

Our bodies are hardwired to routines, so when we throw our bodies out of sync, it can cause havoc on our systems. Flying, time changes, job changes and relationship changes can all cause stress and affect our bodies in negative ways. One way to try to get your body back in sync is to try to keep your routine as normal as possible—even when you are on vacation, going through a tough time or are changing your diet. Try to eat as healthfully as possible during these times, get plenty of rest and push fluids. As soon as your body adjusts to the change, your digestive system should get back on track too.


Just like a change in routine, added stress can cause your digestive system to go haywire. When you feel stressed, the muscles in your body tense up—including the ones in your digestive system. If you feel that your body is reacting in a negative way due to stress or anxiety, you can try a few relaxation techniques, like yoga, exercising, dancing or meditation to ease your stress.

You can also try some simple stretches at your desk, like shoulder rolls, neck rolls and jaw clenches to help ease the stress in your frame and promote relaxation throughout your body.


When your body becomes dehydrated, it has a difficult time sending h2O to the places your body needs it most. Stool can become impacted in your colon during dehydration, and your colon can extract whatever fluids are available in your stool. Your stool then shrinks down and becomes too dry to pass through your system. Your colon also has a difficult time moving stool that isn’t full enough. To keep your stool moving smoothly and to flush toxins from your system, try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day—possibly more if you’re dehydrated.

Changes in Diet

Any change in diet can affect your digestive system. If you’ve suddenly changed to a high-protein, low-carb diet, you might experience slower bowels since you are now eating less fiber.

Other changes can affect your digestive system, like an increase in alcohol, caffeine or fatty foods. Though it’s a common misconception that caffeine can help loosen your stool, caffeine is actually very dehydrating and too much can back up your system. Alcohol is also very dehydrating, so stay away from excess drinking during a bout of constipation. Fatty foods like fried foods and foods high in dairy content can also slow your digestive system, so steer clear of those too.

Changes in Exercise

If you’ve suddenly changed your exercise routine, you might experience a change in bowel movements. Your body needs plenty of exercise to keep your body regular. Exercise can help send blood flow to your bowels, keeping your stool moving smoothly. It can also help to ease stress and help soothe your muscles—even the ones in your digestive system.

Certain Medicines

If you’ve started taking certain medications like over-the-counter pain medications, antidepressants, codeine, anticonvulsants, iron supplements or aluminum antacids, you might experience constipation. Talk to your doctor about the side effects of these medications and about possible substitutions that have fewer side effects.

If any of these life changes could be causing your constipation, try talking to your doctor about solutions to help move your digestive system along. A few simple shifts in diet or exercise can make a big difference in your digestive