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By Anish Sheth, MD

aka "Doc Stool," is a board-certified gastroenterologist and coauthor of the book, What’s Your Poo Telling You?

Created: 03/10/2015
Last Updated: 03/11/2015

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Q: I go through phases where I battle constipation. What could be causing this?

Constipation is generally defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, having difficulty while passing a bowel movement, or both.

Common causes of constipation include inadequate water intake, inadequate fiber intake, stress and/or lack of activity or exercise. If you’ve strayed from your normal routine due to travel, pregnancy or simply ignoring the urge to go, that can also play a role. In some cases, constipation may also occur as a symptom of certain gastrointestinal, metabolic or neurological conditions. Constipation that keeps coming back could also be a symptom of chronic idiopathic constipation or irritable bowel syndrome with constipation.

It's important to consult your health care provider about your constipation symptoms and discuss how to manage them.

Laxatives and stool softeners are approved for occasional constipation. However, they are not intended for long-term treatment of constipation without the oversight of a doctor. For those with symptoms that keep coming back, prescription medications are available. Speak candidly with your health care provider about your symptoms to determine how best to manage your condition.

For more information, visit www.AboutYourGut.com
This program was supported by Actavis and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.