Constipation is a decrease in the frequency of stool, or difficulty in
formation or passage of the stool. Each person has an individual bowel
pattern, and frequency of normal evacuation may range from 3 bowel movements
per day to only three per week. If this frequency decreases considerably, if
there is pain, or if the stools passed are very hard, an individual can be
However, because what constitutes "normal" in terms of frequency differs
greatly from person to person, healthcare providers often rely on a persons
report of the uncomfortable effects of constipation - such as bloating,
excessive gas, straining, and even pain due to hard, dry stools - as the
best indicator that he or she is really experiencing constipation. It is
important to understand constipation so that you can take steps to ease the
discomfort and help your system return to a normal, healthy condition.
- American Gastroenterological Association. Patient Center,
Constipation. AGA Website.
- American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Conditions/Patient
Brochures, Constipation. ASCRS Website.
- National Institutes of Health. The National Digestive Diseases
Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). Constipation. NIH Publication No.
072754. July 2007.