What is constipation?
Constipation is when you have hard, dry bowel movements or you go longer than usual in between bowel movements.
What causes constipation?
- Not eating enough high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, bran, or whole-grain cereals
- Not drinking enough water
- Lack of physical activity
- Pain medicine or medicine used to treat depression or high blood pressure
- Medical conditions, such as hemorrhoids, diabetes, or a stroke
What are the signs and symptoms of constipation?
- Difficulty pushing out your bowel movement
- Pain or bleeding during your bowel movement
- A feeling that you did not finish having your bowel movement
- Full feeling
How is constipation treated?
The following treatments can make it easier for you to have a bowel movement:
- Fiber supplements: This medicine helps decrease your constipation by adding bulk and softness to your bowel movement.
- Bowel movement softeners: This medicine softens your bowel movement.
- Laxatives: This medicine helps your intestines relax and loosen.
How can I manage my constipation?
- Drink liquids as directed: Adults should drink between 9 and 13 eight-ounce cups of liquid every day. Ask what amount is best for you. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juice, and milk.
- Eat a variety of high-fiber foods: This may help decrease constipation by adding bulk and softness to your bowel movements. Healthy foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Ask your caregiver for more information about a high-fiber diet.
- Get plenty of exercise: Regular physical activity can help stimulate your intestines. Talk to your caregiver about the best exercise plan for you.
- Schedule a regular time each day to have a bowel movement: This may help train your body to have regular bowel movements. Bend forward while you are on the toilet to help move the bowel movement out. Sit on the toilet at least 10 minutes, even if you do not have a bowel movement.
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- Your constipation is getting worse.
- You have fever and abdominal pain with the constipation.
- You start vomiting.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate care?
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have blood in your bowel movements.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.