If the stools stay too long in the intestine, the normal and healthy bacterial flora change resulting in the fermentation of the faeces and the formation of poisonous gases that are absorbed by the blood. This can cause headache, muscle pain, loss of appetite, and stomach pain. The body simply becomes intoxicated.
Constipation is a lifestyle disease. In Africa, the intestinal transit time (which is the time passing from eating until the indigestible remnants come out as stools) is only about 24 hours whereas in the rich countries it is about three days.
Measurement of transit time
A simple method for determining transit time is by eating corn and afterwards finding how long it takes before it can be recognised in the faeces. Because corn is yellow and cannot be digested, it is easy to find.
In most cases a disease is not the cause of constipation, which is often to be regarded as a quite normal result of a way of living that is not in harmony with nature and natural human needs - e.g. the lack of liquid, fibre, and exercise. If you suppress the need to have regular bowel movements, maybe because of wanting to postpone a visit to the bathroom, the natural reflex might disappear and the problem of constipation could arise.
It is also always important to think about whether a medicinal treatment can be the cause. Constipation is a frequent side effect of pharmaceuticals.
Daily bowl movements are not a guarantee of not being constipated. In so-called hidden constipation faeces accumulates in the colon despite daily bowel movements. This can result in an irritated-inflamed colon and subsequent symptoms.
If the constipation occurs (and is sustained) without any particular reason in otherwise healthy people with well functioning stomachs, it is advisable to see a doctor for an examination. In some cases a serious disease might be the cause.