Constipation Symptoms



Signs of constipation

Constipation can vary from occasional episodes – when symptoms can range from mild to troublesome – through to chronic (persistent) constipation. In any of these cases, there can be troublesome symptoms that impact quality of life.

Straining in at least one out of every four bowel movements as well as passing small dry stools less than three times per week can indicate constipation. Sufferers can also complain of bloating, pain, lethargy and generally feeling unwell.

Common constipation symptoms – checklist 

• Feeling bloated or windy
• Fewer than three bowel movements a week
• A sense of an incomplete bowel movement
• Straining or suffering from pain when passing a stool
• Hard, dry stools
• Pain in abdomen
• Generally feeling unwell

If any of these symptoms continue more than two weeks, see a healthcare professional.

If you find blood in a stool, lose weight unexpectedly, or experience vomiting, go to see your doctor immediately, as these could be signs of a more serious underlying condition.

Download this stool diary to keep a record of your bowel movements to discuss with your doctor or pharmacist.


For some people, constipation is an ongoing chronic condition that persists for months, years or throughout life. Symptoms may be troublesome, and impact on quality of life. Speak to your doctor about remedies and ways to manage the condition.

For others, constipation occurs only on occasions, and depending on its intensity, the effects of constipation may be mild to severe.

MOVICOL® is a gentle and effective treatment for both chronic and occasional constipation. It has been available around the world for more than 20 years, and there are many clinical studies that prove its effectiveness and gentle mode of action. MOVICOL is available either by prescription from your doctor (PBS reimbursement is only available to eligible patients) or over the counter for chronic and occasional use. Different pack sizes and flavours are available.

For those who suffer chronic constipation, MOVICOL can be taken long term without loss of effect. Some studies actually show that doses of MOVICOL can be reduced over time. The long term use of laxatives should be under medical supervision

See here for causes and symptoms of constipation.

*Reference Gruss HJ and Teucher T, Treatment of chronic constipation - results of a multi-centre observation period

on the use of polyethylene glycol 3350 plus electrolytes, Kirchheim-Verlag Mainz 1999; 21(16): 1342-1350.

What is Faecal impaction

A doctor or nurse may use this term when there hasn’t been a proper bowel movement for several days – or even weeks. It means that poo has been building up in your intestines, becoming more and more difficult to get out. Children with faecal impaction tend to have a dribbly bottom and often dirty their pants, which can be confused with diarrhoea and lead to the wrong treatment.

Faecal impaction needs to be confirmed by your doctor.