Causes, Treatment and Prevention of Constipation - Houston Colon – Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery

Causes, Treatment and Prevention of Constipation

June 13, 2011

If you have a bowel movement less than three times a week, you most likely suffer from constipation. With constipation the stools are difficult to pass, small and hard. Constipation is not a disease but a symptom of something else. Houston colon doctors have found that constipation is temporary. Relieving this symptom is important for good colon health.

What causes constipation?

When the colon absorbs too much water or if the colon’s muscles aren’t performing correctly then the stool does not move through the bowel quickly enough. This causes the stool to become hard and dry. There are several reasons for this, such as:

  • Diet lacking in fiber
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Medications
  • Dairy products
  • IBS or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Life changes such as travel, pregnancy and aging
  • Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement
  • Dehydration
  • Colonic and rectal issues
  • Certain diseases and conditions
  • Intestinal issues

How can I find out the cause of my constipation?

Your physician will take a complete medical history, list your symptoms and run tests to discover the cause of constipation. A complete physical examination is important to have. Other tests and exams may include:

  • Defecography
  • Colorectal transit study
  • Anorectal function test
  • Colonoscopy
  • Sigmoidoscopy

What treatment do I need for my constipation?

Relieving constipation is vital to good colon health. What treatments your colon doctor will prescribe will depend upon the severity of your condition.


Improving your diet by adding an abundance of fruit and vegetables, high fiber foods and cutting out things high in fat and cholesterol is usually the first step.

Daily lifestyle changes

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise regularly
  • Pay attention to urges in the bowel


Your physician may recommend you take a laxative. Be sure to know which kind of laxative to take, as there are several different ones.

Other treatments

Your physician may recommend you quit taking a certain medication or have surgery to correct an underlying problem. Pelvic muscle rehabilitation can be helpful to retrain the anal muscles. This should be done with a trained professional.

Learning to recognize and treat the symptoms of constipation will not only make you feel more comfortable.  It will improve your colon health, preserve your pelvic floor function, and possible even help prevent colon cancer.  If you have difficulty resolving your constipation on a chronic basis, consult your Houston colorectal surgeon.

At Colorectal Surgical Associates, the Houston colon surgeons are skilled in helping resolve constipation, fecal impaction, and obstructive defecation syndrome.  They maintain a pelvic physical therapy center to overcome their patients’ colon dysfunction without the use of surgery.