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According to the Rome IV criteria for constipation, a patient must have experienced at least two of the following symptoms over the preceding three months: Fewer than three spontaneous bowel movements per week. Straining for more than 25% of defecation attempts.

Constipation may have a serious impact on mental wellbeing and quality of life. 40% of adults report anxiety and 38% experience depression, alongside physical health problems such as haemorrhoids, anal fissures and rectal prolapse (BIG, 2020).

Cause of constipation (other medication):

  • opioid pain relievers
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • antihistamines
  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • urinary incontinence medications
  • iron and calcium supplements
  • blood pressure medications
  • anti-nausea medications.

It’s estimated that around 1 in every 7 adults and up to 1 in every 3 children in the UK has constipation at any one time (BIG).

Constipation can be treated by:

  • eating foods rich in fibre
  • doing regular exercise
  • practising pelvic floor exercises
  • not ignoring the urge to pass stools
  • checking the side effects of medications
  • discussing any concerns with a health care professional and not stopping medication without seeking advice first (RCN Bladder and bowel learning resource).


  • Eating a healthy, well balanced diet.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Increasing activity and exercise levels.
  • Having a good toilet routine.


Report if the last bowel movement was more than 3 days ago, leaking stool (type 6-7 on stool chart), recurrent bleeding from the rectum, abdomen pain and bloating.