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Constipation most often occurs when the food we have digested moves too slowly through the digestive tract. When stools move slowly, more water is absorbed from the stools causing them to become hard, dry and difficult to pass.

The ABC symptoms

A slow-moving digestive system may be the cause of your Chronic Constipation or Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation. It can result in what is called the ABC symptoms.

  • Abdominal discomfort: Cramps, twinges or sharp aches that may be in several locations or change location.
  • Bloating: A full, tight feeling in the abdomen often caused by excessive gas in the intestines. The abdomen may appear distended, as if heavy and full.
  • Constipation: This bowel pattern is different for everyone, but could include infrequent bowel movements, hard or lumpy stools, difficulty in passing stools, inability to have a bowel movement, incomplete elimination, straining with a bowel movement or any of these in combination.

Chronic Constipation symptoms can also include:

  • Constipation lasting over 6 months.
  • 3 or less bowel movements each week.

    You may also have some or all of the following:
  • Straining with a bowel movement.
  • Infrequent bowel movements.
  • Hard or lumpy stools.
  • Difficulty in passing stools.
  • Inability to have a bowel movement.
  • Incomplete evacuation.


There are varying treatment options used to relieve constipation.  Talk to your doctor about which treatment is best for you.

  • Bulking agents: psyllium
  • Stool Softeners: docusate sodium
  • Osmotic Laxatives: lactulose, PEG
  • Hyperosmotic Laxatives: glycerine suppositories
  • Stimulant Laxatives: bisacodyl, senna
  • Lubricant Laxatives: mineral oil
  • Prokenetic Agent: prucalopride succinate (Canada)
  • Calcium Channel Activator: lubiprostone (US)
  • Peptide Agonist: linaclotide (US, Europe)

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation,