Points to Remember
- Constipation affects almost everyone at one time or another.
- Many people think they are constipated when, in fact, their bowel movements are regular.
- The most common causes of constipation are poor diet and lack of exercise.
- Additional causes of constipation include medications, irritable bowel syndrome, abuse of laxatives, and specific diseases.
- A medical history and physical examination may be the only diagnostic tests needed before the doctor suggests treatment.
- In most cases, following these simple tips will help relieve symptoms and prevent recurrence of constipation:
- Eat a well-balanced, high-fiber diet that includes beans, bran, whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
- Drink plenty of liquids.
- Exercise regularly.
- Set aside time after breakfast or dinner for undisturbed visits to the toilet.
- Do not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement.
- Understand that normal bowel habits vary.
- Whenever a significant or prolonged change in bowel habits occurs, check with a doctor.
- Most people with mild constipation do not need laxatives. However, doctors may recommend laxatives for a limited time for people with chronic constipation.