Constipation – The Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Published on November 1, 2017

Don’t think you’re alone if you suffer from constipation. Nearly 2.5 million people in Australia also share symptoms of being constipated.

There isn’t one single factor that can be pinpointed as the definitive cause of constipation. Understanding your symptoms of constipation can help you identify the science behind your causes of constipation, and dispel any myths that are steering you in the wrong direction. Then you can make appropriate changes, whether they are dietary changes or lifestyle changes in order to have constipation relief.

One thing you can do in an effort to prevent constipation is to follow a daily routine for visiting the toilet and one for exercising. Combine these things with making appropriate dietary changes and incorporating relaxation techniques in your day to address constipation that is diet or stress based.

About Constipation

Constipation occurs when a person’s digestive system for one reason or another fails to function properly resulting in the disruption of regularity. Constipation can affect people of all age groups and is more common than some people may believe. In fact, nearly 20% of Australians suffer often or very often from constipation1. In most circumstances a balanced diet is all that is needed to stay regular and avoid constipation. But, no matter how healthy the lifestyle, at times we may experience constipation.

Learning to identify constipation by understanding its symptoms and causes can help you interpret your body’s messages more clearly so you can find the right type of relief to help you get back to feeling like yourself.

Constipation Symptoms

Almost everyone will suffer the effects of constipation at some point in their lives. By definition, constipation is having fewer than three bowel movements in any given week. Bowel movements are as unique as we are; some people consider several daily bowel movements normal, whereas others may only experience several per week. It is important to note that constipation is a temporary symptom, and not a disease. Constipation relief is often as simple as discovering triggers, such as poor diet or exercise.
Constipation symptoms vary between cases, but the most common constipation symptoms are hard or small stools, painful straining during bowel movements, irregular or infrequent bowel movements, or the sensation of having a full, or bloated, bowel even though you have finished.
Monitoring your constipation symptoms and adjusting your lifestyle is a wise preventative measure. For predictable constipation relief, turn to a trusted laxative like Dulcolax®.

Causes of Constipation

The causes of constipation may vary for each individual. The following points outline the main causes of constipation.

A Poorly Balanced or Low-fibre Diet

Regular consumption of fibre rich foods like fruit & vegetables, cereals, bran and bread helps to maintain regularity. The body does not absorb fibre so it travels through the system to the bowel, where it provides ‘bulk’ for the bowel motion. Fibre also absorbs water, making the motion soft and easier to pass.

Insufficient Fluid Intake

Water makes the bowel motion soft and easier to pass. With insufficient fluid intake, bowel motions become hard and dry, causing pain during a bowel motion.

A Lack of Exercise

Exercise helps the muscles work to move the waste through the system. Often when people are sick or in hospital, they experience constipation due to lack of exercise.

Certain Medications

Some medicine may cause constipation eg analgesics, such as codeine and morphine, some antacids, iron and calcium supplements. Please seek the advice of your GP or pharmacist.

Change in Routine

When the normal body clock is disrupted, e.g when travelling, this can upset the routine bowel habits and result in constipation. Suppressing the need to go to the toilet can also lead to constipation.

Treatment Options

Dulcolax offers consumers predictable overnight relief from constipation. Dulcolax has a two way mode of action; firstly it works by stimulating the natural movement of the bowel muscles, causing the bowel muscles to contract and move the stool. Secondly, it increases water accumulation in the bowel, making the stool softer.

Dulcolax is available in tablets, drops and suppositories. Simply take the tablets or drops at night before you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning you should be ready to go to the toilet. For fast relief, the suppositories are effective in 20-45 mins.


While constipation medication can be helpful for quick relief from this condition, making changes to your diet, like eating more fibre, exercising and drinking plenty of fluids are all natural remedies to help prevent constipation.


Try to eat and drink regularly: stable eating habits and fixed mealtimes help your digestive system. One of the best ways to begin your day is with a high-fibre breakfast involving fruit and muesli. Drink 1-2 litres of water, tea or juice a day and try to add fibre-rich elements to your other meals, too – wholemeal pasta or rice, salad or some vegetables, for example. Making your own fruit or vegetable sticks with a dip is an ideal healthy snack to keep you going and avoid constipation. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, and feel free to read up on more of our diet tips.


You don’t have to become a top athlete: about 30 minutes of light exercise a day is enough. If you find that difficult, start small and try to integrate exercise in the fresh air into your daily routine. Go out on your bike, do some sport with friends or go for a walk.

Fixed Habits

If possible, visit the toilet at a fixed time, for example straight after breakfast. This way it becomes a habit. And if you need to go, don’t ignore the urge – even if you’re out and about. Take as long as you need to find relief on the toilet.


If you’re worried about something or have a problem, talk to your family and friends about it and work out a solution. If you find yourself under a lot of pressure, consider learning one or more relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga. Always remember, no work is more important than your health.

When To See Your Doctor

Constipation isn’t usually a serious problem. Laxatives are recommended for short term use so you should consult your doctor if symptoms persist. Make sure to inform your health professional to any changes in your health and any medications or dietary supplements that you may be taking. Also, make sure to discuss your family’s medical history.
It’s important to ask the right questions to get the most out of your discussion with your healthcare professional.

Learn about which Dulcolax product may be appropriate for you.