Constipation is a common digestive issue that can be caused by a variety of factors, including lifestyle, medications, medical conditions, and pregnancy. Diseases such as neurological disorders, metabolic and endocrine disorders, bowel cancer, and diverticulitis can all lead to constipation. Systemic conditions like scleroderma can also be a cause, as can intestinal obstructions due to scar tissue or stenosis of the colon or rectum. Opioid pain medications can also cause or worsen constipation.
To properly treat constipation, it is important to rule out any underlying medical conditions. If hypothyroidism is the underlying cause of constipation, adding certain thyroid cofactors such as vitamin A, zinc, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium may be beneficial. Functional medicine tests can help identify the root cause of functional constipation and create a personalized treatment plan. Sedentary lifestyles, supplements, medications, and other medical conditions can also contribute to constipation.
For more information on treating constipation and other gastrointestinal conditions, Harvard Medical School's special health report The Sensitive Gut is a great resource. It is important to identify the underlying cause of constipation in order to properly treat it.