Laxatives For Constipation (cont.)

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When should a doctor be consulted for constipation?

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Many people have a life-long tendency toward constipation while others have occasional constipation alternating with a normal bowel pattern or even diarrhea. While mild and intermittent constipation in these individuals is usually not a cause for concern, a doctor should be consulted under the following circumstances:

  • A new onset of constipation or recent change in bowel habits
  • Moderate to severe constipation, or constipation that does not respond to self-treatment with simple bulking agents that provide fiber
  • Constipation that is accompanied by rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and cramps, nausea and vomiting, or involuntary weight loss
  • Constipation during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

What natural remedies can a person take for constipation?

Mild constipation without an underlying cause (such as medications, an underactive thyroid, or colon obstruction) can often improve with lifestyle modifications that include:

  1. Increase fiber in the diet. Fiber improves bowel function by adding bulk and softening the stool. Examples of foods high in fiber content include:
    • vegetables
    • fruits (include the skin)
    • whole grain breads and cereals
    • prunes
    • whole beans (such as kidney beans and pinto beans)
    • oat bran
    • corn
    • barley
    • over-the-counter fiber supplements
  2. Increase fluid intake. Although this is widely recommended as a treatment for constipation, there are no studies showing that increasing fluids improves constipation.
  3. Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, or running. Similar to increasing fluid intake, although exercise is widely recommended for treating constipation, there are no studies demonstrating its value for constipation.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/22/2014

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Constipation - Natural Remedies Question: Please share any natural remedies you've tried for constipation. What works, and what doesn't?
Constipation - Possible Causes Question: What do you believe is the cause of your constipation? Please describe your experience.
Constipation - OTC Medications Question: Have you tried over-the-counter medications for constipation? In your opinion, what works, and what doesn't?
Constipation - Seeing a Doctor Question: Why did you go to a doctor for your constipation? What types of tests or exams were included during your visit?
Constipation - Children Question: What do you do when your baby or child is constipated? Please share your experience with treating constipation in kids.
Constipation - Pregnancy Question: Were you constipation during your pregnancy? What lifestyle changes or natural remedies helped relieve symptoms?