Constipation happens when stools become infrequent or hard to pass, and it is an issue many people are likely to have during the Christmas break.
This is because it can be caused by not eating enough fibre, like fruit and vegetables, and doing little physical activity, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It is defined as having three movements a week or less, and it may be responsible for accompanying bloating and stomach pain.
While it is a common problem, many people feel uncomfortable talking about it, particularly since it goes away within a week or two on its own.
However, ignoring it could be deadly, since it could be a symptom of a more serious condition.
Chronic constipation is when it lasts for several weeks or longer, according to the Mayo Clinic.
These are three worrying reasons it could be hanging around.
Blockages in the bowel
This is where stools are stopped or slowed, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It could be triggered by bowel cancer, which is sometimes called colon cancer or rectal cancer.
Additionally, anal fissures, a bowel obstruction or bowel stricture could also be to blame.
Problems with nerves around the bowel
Neurological issues can affect the nerves that tell the colon and rectum to help move the stool through.
Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or stroke could be behind this issue.
They are important for most major bodily functions, and if their balance is upset it could cause constipation. This is why pregnant women often suffer.
However, if you are not pregnant, diabetes, which affects one in four people in the UK, could be disrupting levels.
Additionally, having an overactive parathyroid gland or an underactive thyroid could be to blame.
There are a number measures you could take to try and eliminate your constipation in the first instance.
These include tweaking your diet by eating prunes, bananas and onions.
However, if this doesn’t help or you are at all concerned about why your bowel issues are lingering you should see a GP.
Dr Sarah Brewer told the MailOnline: “If this continues for more than a week or two, seek medical advice – earlier if you develop abdominal pain or notice blood or slime in your motions.
“Try not to feel embarrassed – your doctor is used to dealing with problems like this.”