Symptoms and Signs of Constipation in Adults

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Constipation in Adults

Constipation is passing less stool (feces) than normal. It is usually defined medically as having fewer than three stools per week. Severe constipation occurs when an individual has less than one stool (bowel movement) per week. There are a number of causes of constipation. These include dietary factors, certain medications, overuse of stimulant laxatives, and some hormonal conditions such as hypothyroidism.

Symptoms and signs if constipation, in addition to having a reduced number of bowel movements, can include straining with defecation, hard or small stools, lower abdominal discomfort, bloating, abdominal distension, anal bleeding, anal fissures, and a sense of incompletely emptying the bowels. Other symptoms that are less common can include diarrhea due to obstruction of the colon by hard or impacted stool.

Must Read Articles:


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.