Constipation means that you have a hard time passing stools (bowel movements). People pass stools from 3 times a day to once every 3 days. What is normal for you may be different. Constipation may occur with pain in the rectum and cramping. The pain may get worse when you try to pass stools. Sometimes there are small amounts of bright red blood on toilet paper or the surface of stools. This is because of enlarged veins near the rectum (hemorrhoids).

A few changes in your diet and lifestyle may help you avoid ongoing constipation. Your doctor may also prescribe medicine to help loosen your stool.

Some medicines can cause constipation. These include pain medicines and antidepressants. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. Your doctor may want to make a medicine change to ease your symptoms.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Include high-fiber foods in your diet each day. These include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports.
  • Take a fiber supplement, such as Citrucel or Metamucil, every day. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. A daily routine may help. Take your time having your bowel movement.
  • Support your feet with a small step stool when you sit on the toilet. This helps flex your hips and places your pelvis in a squatting position.
  • For severe constipation, go to your local drugstore and purchase a bottle of Magnesium Citrate.  Drink the entire bottle.  You may repeat this after 24 hours if you don’t get an adequate response.  This may cause significant diarrhea.
  • For mild to moderate frequent constipation, take Miralax 1 capful of powder in 8 oz of water each day.  If this makes your stool too loose, then decrease the amount powder to ½ capful in 8 oz of water daily.  You can also take 1-2 stool softeners every night.  Milk of Magnesia and Dulcolax suppositories are also safe treatments for constipation.  Do not take Ex-Lax or Correctol or any other stimulant laxative. 

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