Constipation - Adult
- 15 min15 minutes
- Depends on ConsultDepends on Consult
- Location 1
Constipation is when a person has fewer than three bowel movements a week, has difficulty having a bowel movement, or has stools that are dry, hard, or larger than normal. A low-fiber diet, not taking in enough fluids, and taking certain medicines may make constipation worse. CAUSES • Certain medicines, such as antidepressants, pain medicine, iron supplements. • Certain diseases, such as diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), thyroid disease, or depression. • Not drinking enough water. • Not eating enough fiber-rich foods. • Stress or travel. • Lack of physical activity or exercise. • Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS • Having fewer than three bowel movements a week. • Straining to have a bowel movement. • Having stools that are hard, dry, or larger than normal. • Feeling full or bloated. • Pain in the lower abdomen. • Not feeling relief after having a bowel movement. DIAGNOSIS Your health care provider will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. Further testing may be done for severe constipation. Some tests may include: • A sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to examine your colon. • A colonic transit study to assess stool transit in colon. TREATMENT Treatment will depend on the severity of your constipation and what is causing it. Some dietary treatments include drinking more fluids and eating more fiber-rich foods. Lifestyle treatments may include regular exercise. If these diet and lifestyle recommendations do not help, your health care provider may recommend taking over-the-counter laxative medicines to help you have bowel movements. Prescription medicines may be prescribed if over-the-counter medicines do not work. HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS • Eat foods that have a lot of fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. • Limit foods high in fat and processed sugars, such as french fries, cookies, candies, and soda. • A fiber supplement may be added to your diet if you cannot get enough fiber from foods. • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow. • Exercise regularly or as directed by your health care provider. • Go to the restroom when you have the urge to go. Do not hold it. This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.