may be all that is needed to treat constipation caused by cancer, pain
medicine, inactivity, or the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
If your doctor has given you instructions or medicines to treat
constipation, be sure to follow them. Check with your doctor
before using any nonprescription medicines for your constipation.
Make sure you drink enough fluids.
Most adults should drink between 8 and 10 glasses of water or other liquids each day.
intake of alcoholic beverages. They can increase
If you have heart failure or
kidney failure, talk to your doctor about what amount of fluid is
right for you.
Be more physically active. But check with your doctor before increasing your physical activity, especially if you are getting cancer treatments. Talk with your doctor about what kind of exercise and how much exercise will help you.
Include fruits, vegetables, and fiber in your
diet each day. Have a bran muffin or some bran cereal for breakfast. And try
eating a piece of fruit for a mid-afternoon snack.
each day for a bowel movement. Setting a daily routine, such as after
breakfast, may help. Take your time. Don't be in a hurry.
If you are still constipated:
Add some processed or synthetic fiber, such as
Benefiber, Citrucel, FiberCon, Metamucil, or Perdiem, to your diet each day.
Try a stool softener, such as Colace, if your stools are very
If constipation persists, your doctor may
suggest a laxative, such as Phillip's Milk of
Do not use a laxative without consulting your doctor.
Do not take a laxative if you are on a
sodium-restricted diet or have kidney problems.
You may sometimes need to try a stimulant laxative, such
as Ex-Lax or Feen-a-Mint.
Do not use laxatives without talking with your
Use these preparations sparingly. Regular use
may interfere with your body's ability to absorb vitamin D and calcium. This can weaken your bones.
Overuse of stimulant laxatives reduces the
tone and sensation in the large intestine, causing dependence on
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
or more of the following symptoms occur during home treatment, contact your
New constipation occurs or other bowel habit
changes continue after 1 week of home treatment.
Is causing new problems.
Occurs along with other bowel habit changes, such as
changes in the size, shape, or consistency of your stools.
Rectal pain develops or
Blood in the stool develops or
Belly pain or fever
Uncontrolled leakage of stool occurs.
symptoms become more severe or more frequent.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.