What are the Constipation Symptoms and Signs?

Monika Singh   by Monika Singh, MS    Last updated on September 27, 2019,

constipation symptoms and signs


Signs and symptoms of constipation

Constipation is a medical condition that affects the digestive system of the body and is characterized by less frequent bowel movements than normal, abdominal pain and discomfort. More accurately, if a person is not producing bowel movements for three days or more he might be constipated.

Constipation can be an uncomfortable problem to the people affected by it. In severe cases, constipation can be painful or even devastating. Bowel frequency is different for different people making it difficult for them to realize whether or not they are constipated.

Symptoms of constipation include:

Abdominal pain and bloating

People having constipation often experience a sharp and cramping abdominal pain and bloating. They feel as if the stomach is full all the time (even when they have not eaten for a long time) and tight.

The patient may also feel gassy but passing gas does not relieve the discomfort.

Nausea and/or vomiting

Constipation may affect only intestines but it slows down the entire digestive system. The hard stool remains in the intestine for a long time which prevents or delays the food in the stomach to reach the intestine. Due to this the stomach always remains full disturbing the digestive process. In such situation, the patient may feel nauseous or even vomit.

Hard stools or inability to have a bowel movement

In constipation, the stool remains in the colon for a longer time than usual. This makes the stool hard and dry because the colon continues absorbing water from the stool. It becomes very difficult for the hard stool to move through the intestine.

Several small stools followed by a feeling of not emptying the bowels

Constipation may cause people to produce several tiny bowel movements. Patients feel a frequent urge to go the bathroom after these small bowel movements. It is because constipated patients may feel that they have not completely emptied the bowels. They also find that they are unable to produce another bowel movement despite the constant urge and despite trying many times.

Infrequent bowel movements

Constipated people produce fewer bowel movements than usual. It is said that less than three bowel movements in a week are not normal and are considered constipation signs.

But this figure is different for different people. Some people may have five or six bowel movements per week and they still fell constipated.

Straining during a bowel movement

Constipation is a very severe issue and sometimes patients may have to push and strain their entire lower bodies to produce a bowel movement. Excess push and strain may even develop sore abdominal muscles.

Some patients may even feel as if they are in hard physical labor every time they try to empty the bowels. The problem becomes even more severe when patients may not be able to produce a bowel movement in spite of all the force and strain. And in some cases, if they produce a bowel movement, it causes a great discomfort for them.

Anal fissures and pain

An anal fissure is a small cut or tears in the lining or at the mouth of the anus. The tear in the anal skin causes severe pain accompanied by bright red bleeding during the bowel movements. It is caused by constipation and passing hard stools.

Occasional diarrhea

Constipated patients may experience occasional diarrhea during constipation. It is due to obstruction of the colon by hard stool.


Dyspepsia is also known as indigestion or upset stomach. Inactivity of the bowels causes the imbalance in the stomach and affects the digestion.


Flatulence refers to the gas that collects in the digestive system. Excessive gas with a bad odor is often expelled in constipation.

Reduced appetite

The constipated patient always feels like he is full. And he has no desire of eating anything. When the situation continues the patient experiences a loss of appetite.


A constipated person feels bloated and full. He also experiences nausea and vomiting. All these things contribute and make the person inactive. Most of the time the person lacks energy and he is very reluctant to do anything.

Monika Singh

Monika Singh is an expert in computer sciences and has pursued her Master’s degree (M.Tech-CS) from Banasthali University, Rajasthan. Her areas of interest include data structure, software engineering, software testing, and computer graphics. Monika Singh has published a paper on “Modified AODV in MANET,” International Journal of Computer Science and Management Studies (IJCSMS), ISSN: 2231-5268, Vol-14, Issue-05 May 2014, PP:12-18.

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