Constipation is not in itself an illness, but a symptom that may be caused by a number of different factors. It can be the result of inadequate fluid intake, inadequate fiber in the diet, inadequate exercise, a disruption in normal routine, an intake of a large amount of dairy products or stress. Certain medications may cause constipation as will eating disorders, intestinal obstructions and colon cancer. Symptoms include difficulty in moving the bowels, or a lessening infrequency. Additional symptoms may include a swollen abdomen, abdominal pain and/or vomiting.
Simple constipation may be improved by a change in diet, such as drinking more water and taking in more dietary fiber. Abdominal massage can help to increase peristalsis (the squeezing movement) of the intestine. Overall massage can help to reduce levels of stress. More serious conditions such as colon cancer need to be ruled out by a physician.