Constipation can also be a symptom of another condition.

Because our digestive system is so sensitive, any number of conditions can affect the muscles of the bowels. These include:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Constipation, along with diarrhea, is a symptom of this intestinal disorder, with many people experiencing bouts of both. Other IBS symptoms include cramping and bloating.

Hemorrhoids (piles)

Prolonged constipation can sometimes lead to piles. These are swollen, enlarged veins that sometimes hang outside of the rectum and hurt or bleed when you pass a bowel movement.

Hormonal Imbalances

Because hormones help balance bodily fluids, many women find it harder to pass stools around the time of their period. Women who are getting close to or going through menopause can also have problems.

Occasionally constipation can be a sign of something more serious. This includes:

Bowel cancer

In a very few number of cases, constipation can also be a symptom of an obstruction somewhere.  If you experience stomach pains or see traces of blood or mucus in your stools, contact your doctor immediately.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

This is a progressive condition that affects the nervous system. Early signs include vision problems, tingling and numbness, and balance problems. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Underactive thyroid

Constipation is a classic sign of an underactive thyroid. Basically it means that your thyroid isn’t producing enough of the hormones that get your bowel muscles moving. Other symptoms include tiredness, feeling cold, thinning hair and a croaky voice. If this sounds like you, speak to your doctor.

Parkinson's disease

This condition impairs control of muscle movement throughout the body, causing bowel muscles to become slow and rigid. A tremor or shaking in your finger or hand is an early sign, along with dizziness and balance problems. If you are experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor.

Damage to the spinal cord

Injuries to the spinal cord can affect the nerves leading to the bowel.  Damage to the spinal cord must be examined by your doctor as soon as possible.