Constipation is characterized by a decrease in frequency and/or passage of hard, dry stools.

Causes

  • Irregular bowel habits and sedentary life
  • Improper diet
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Excessive laxative use
  • Certain drugs

Prevention

  • Establishing a bowel routine
  • Consuming fiber, vegetables, and fruit in diet
  • Drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water each day
  • Exercising regularly

Self-care

  • Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day
  • Increase intake of fiber such as whole grain cereals (oatmeal, bran, shredded wheat), whole wheat breads
  • Increase intake of fruit with skins such as raw and coarse vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce)
  • Avoid intake of high fat foods such as bacon, butter, cream, and oil
  • Avoid highly refined foods such as white rice, pasta, candy, and cookies
  • Increase physical activity by establishing a regular exercise routine
  • Avoid straining when toileting. Use reading material to relax and may use a footstool to promote thigh flexion, which may be helpful
  • Avoid over use of laxatives, as may reverse action and cause constipation
  • Drink hot coffee, warm lemonade, prune juice before breakfast or in the evening to stimulate the bowel

Treatment

  • Use a mild laxative as directed, but avoid overuse
  • May need to see a physician if constipation continues