Learn more about constipation including symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention


Symptoms of constipation include infrequent, irregular, or incomplete bowel movements. Discomfort or straining during bowel movements is also common. Constipation can also cause hard, dry stools and excessive gas or bloating.


In general, we say a person is constipated when he or she is experiencing discomfort as a result of infrequent, irregular, or difficult bowel movements. In terms of frequency, what constitutes normal differs greatly from person to person; it may mean as many as 3 bowel movements a day or as few as 3 or 4 bowel movements a week. Healthcare providers often rely on a person's 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.


How do you know when you are constipated? If you are experiencing one or more of the following signs, you may be constipated:

  • Less frequent bowel movements
  • Hard, dry stools that are difficult and/or painful to pass
  • Excessive gas or abdominal bloating
  • The sensation of a full rectum, even after you have had a bowel movement

Always speak to your doctor if your symptoms last over two weeks.


  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). Constipation. Accessed July, 2017.