Simply put, chronic constipation is bowel motions that are irregular, infrequent or incomplete and are characterized by difficulty of passage and pain.
With constipation there is also the feeling of not having emptied the bowel sufficiently.
Constipation is caused by the slow movement of food through the human digestive track which in turn causes it to absorb more water.
This renders the waste matter from the digested food to become drier and more difficult to pass and therefore painful.
However all irregularity of bowel movements should not be treated as constipation. Some individuals are regular as clockwork while some others just are not. Both may be normal.
While some may typically ‘go’ several times a day, some may ‘go’ only every other day without any discomfort. So long as there is no difficulty in passing stool or pain, irregularity of bowel movements cannot strictly be construed as constipation.
If however a bowel movement is less frequent than twice a week, then that is cause for concern. It is pain, difficulty of passage and the feeling of inadequate or incomplete evacuation that are the identifying factors.
Some causes of constipation like pregnancy or illness will reverse themselves usually along with the causative factor but other factors do require medical help.