Help with Constipation

Ask the Expert


I've mentioned my constipation to my health care provider before, and he told me to eat more fiber. What else can I do to help move things along?


Most people become constipated at some point in their lives. If you have a short-term bout of constipation, try some lifestyle changes, as your health care provider suggests. He or she may suggest that you bump up your activity level and make sure to eat plenty of dietary fiber and to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Good sources of dietary fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.

If dietary and lifestyle changes don’t help, talk to your health care provider again. If you have occasional constipation, he or she may recommend over-the-counter medications including stool softeners and laxatives. If your constipation keeps coming back, make sure to mention that in your discussion with your health care provider. In some cases, recurring constipation can signal a more serious health condition, such as a bowel obstruction, cancer, neurological disease or hypothyroidism. Recurring symptoms could also indicate a condition like chronic idiopathic constipation or irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, and prescription medicines are approved for these conditions.

Here are a few tips to help prepare for your visit with your health care provider:

  • Keep a poo log, including frequency, texture and symptoms.
  • Practice having an open conversation about your bowel movements
  • Keep a food diary, including notes on which foods increase symptoms

Talk openly and honestly with your health care professional about your symptoms and give all the details. Don't be embarrassed; health care providers talk about bodily functions every day, and the more your provider knows, the better he or she will be able to manage your condition.

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