Constipation

What is Constipation?

It could be caused by something you ate—or something you didn't eat. It could be a side effect of a new medication, or your body's rebellion to stress or travel. Whatever the cause, constipation can be difficult—and painful—to live with.

In medical terms, constipation means the passage of abnormally infrequent or extremely hard and dry bowel movements. In point of fact, however, the frequency and consistency of bowel movements varies so widely from one person to another, it's sometimes difficult to say what "normal" is.

The best measure of normalcy, however, is your own established frequency—that is, what's normal for you. Sometimes nutritional deficiencies can contribute to constipation, and supplementation can correct the problem. We have discussed these nutrients fully under Colon, Spastic.

ConstipationWhat helps Constipation?

• See recommendations: Remedies for constipation

An ounce of prevention

Constipation can be prevented through changes in diet and exercise habits in most cases. Drink plenty of fluids (at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily) and eat plenty of high-fiber foods (such as oat bran, fruits, and vegetables with skin). Regular vigorous exercise can also stimulate the bowels and relieve constipation.

CALL FOR HELP

Constipation should be treated promptly. Not only are the symptoms unpleasant, but chronic constipation can lead to hemorrhoids, indigestion, and diverticulitis. If constipation lingers after more than four days of self-treatment, contact your physician.

Chronic or recurring constipation may be an indication of a more serious condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or Parkinson's disease. If you suffer with chronic constipation, see your physician.

 
 
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