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- What is constipation?
- What are the causes of constipation?
- When should a doctor be consulted for constipation?
- What natural remedies can a person take for constipation?
- What over-the-counter preparations can be used for constipation?
- Bulk-forming laxatives
- Stool softeners (emollient laxatives)
- Lubricant laxatives
- Stimulant laxatives
- Saline laxatives and osmotic laxatives
- Enemas and suppositories
- How is constipation treated in infants and children?
- How is constipation treated during pregnancy?
Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Constipation Myths and Facts
When should a doctor be consulted for constipation?
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:
- Increase fiber in the diet. Fiber improves bowel function by adding bulk and softening the stool. Examples of foods high in fiber content include:
- fruits (include the skin)
- whole grain breads and cereals
- whole beans (such as kidney beans and pinto beans)
- oat bran
- over-the-counter fiber supplements