Back to Living Real Change
Patient with constipation sitting on toilet.

5 causes behind constipation

Constipation can be frustrating and painful, but if you understand its causes, you can get your system moving again.

Luckily, it’s often simple to pinpoint the source of your problem.

According to Piedmont family medicine physicians, it’s often about being honest with yourself about your water intake and diet.

Patients don’t need to suffer through constipation or write it off as insignificant, as regular bowel movements are important for good health.

Here are five common culprits behind constipation:


Water promotes stool motility. If your body isn’t getting the hydration it needs, you’ll have gastrointestinal problems.

That isn’t to say all liquids are the same. Caffeine and dairy, for example, firm the stool, so drinking a big foamy latte is probably not a good idea.

Poor diet

Eating a nutritious diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables promotes regular bowel movements. Fruits and fiber are agents that suck water into the colon, making the stool softer and easier to move.


Most medications have the potential to cause constipation. A few are particularly well known for it: Antidepressants can slow the central nervous system, while narcotics slow bowel impulses.

Trickier problems arise when patients take multiple medications, which can interact and contribute to additional constipation issues.

Lack of exercise

If you’ve been idle lately, your gut may have become idle as well. Regular exercise is important for maintaining frequent bowel movements.

Psychological issues

Some people develop avoidance issues around their stool, leading to constipation. They may internalize messages about bowel movements being unclean or wrong in some way.

Talk to your doctor if these issues sound familiar. Your doctor can also assess whether your constipation may be pathological and caused, for example, by physical blockages like polyps or tumors.

If your constipation is frequent but doesn’t have physical causes, you may be dealing with irritable bowel syndrome, but managing occasional constipation can also help IBS, and lifestyle changes are beneficial for everyone.

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.


Related Stories

Schedule your appointment online

Piedmont App

Download the Piedmont Now app

  • Directions
  • Indoor Hospital Navigation
  • Find & Save Physicians
  • Online Scheduling

Download the app today!

Get the Piedmont Now on Google Play Get the Piedmont Now on iTunes App Store