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Constipation, Diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Spastic Colon

Constipation usually develops because of the inadequate ingestion of food, particularly fiber and water. The colon depends upon a certain amount of fiber to produce adequate amounts of stool (bowel movement) which can be passed easily from the right side of the colon to the left side. Adequate water (2 1/2 quarts or more) must be consumed to assure that the stool is soft and not hard.

Normal colon function also depends upon a certain amount of daily activity. In bedfast or inactive people constipation is more frequent. The disorder called spastic colon, or more recently termed irritable bowel syndrome, is where patients experience constipation, diarrhea, or alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea, in association with abdominal pain. This is a very common disorder and affects millions of people. It can often be treated by adding fiber and water to the diet. Sometimes medications are prescribed to decrease the spasm in the bowel. It is not a dangerous condition and does not predispose to the development of cancer.