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Constipation is when you have hard, dry bowel movements, or you go longer than usual between bowel movements.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have blood in your bowel movements.
  • You have a fever and abdominal pain with the constipation.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your constipation gets worse.
  • You start vomiting.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Manage your constipation:

  • Drink liquids as directed. Adults should drink between 9 and 13 eight-ounce cups of liquid every day. Ask your healthcare provider which liquids to drink, and how much to drink each day.
  • Eat high-fiber foods. This may help decrease constipation by adding bulk to your bowel movements. High-fiber foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, and beans. Your dietitian or healthcare provider can help you create a high-fiber meal plan.

  • Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity can help stimulate your intestines. Ask which exercises are best for you.
  • Schedule a 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 for at least 10 minutes, even if you do not have a bowel movement.


  • You may need medicine or a fiber supplement to help decrease constipation. These work by making your bowel movement softer. A laxative may help relax and loosen your intestines to help you have a bowel movement. You may also be given medicine to increase fluid in your intestines. The fluid may help move bowel movements through your intestines.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.