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Constipation

Summary

Constipation means that a person has three or fewer bowel movements in a week. The stool can be hard and dry. Sometimes it is painful to pass. At one time or another, almost everyone gets constipated. In most cases, it lasts a short time and is not serious.

There are many things you can do to prevent constipation. They include

  • Eating more fruits, vegetables and grains, which are high in fiber
  • Drinking plenty of water and other liquids
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Taking time to have a bowel movement when you need to
  • Using laxatives only if your doctor says you should
  • Asking your doctor if medicines you take may cause constipation

It's not important that you have a bowel movement every day. If your bowel habits change, however, check with your doctor.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Start Here

  • (American College of Gastroenterology)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • (American Gastroenterological Association) - PDF

Symptoms

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

Diagnosis and Tests

  • Colonoscopy: FreeFacebookCredits2012 Health Topic From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) Also in

Treatments and Therapies

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • (Cleveland Clinic Foundation)

Related Issues

  • (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in
  • (American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Health Check Tools

  • (DSHI Systems)
  • (American Academy of Family Physicians)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • (American College of Gastroenterology)
  • From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

Teenagers

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Women

  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Seniors

  • (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)

Patient Handouts

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