Constipation means difficult and less frequent bowel movements. The stool becomes hard, dry and sometimes 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 some things that are suggested for one to try when constipated: Increase water intake; try warm liquids, especially in the morning; add fruits and vegetables to the diet; eat prunes and/or bran cereal; and if needed, use a very mild stool softener or laxative (such as Peri-Colace or Milk of Magnesia). However, laxatives should not be used for more than two weeks without calling the doctor.
Just because laxatives are easily available without prescription, it does not mean that they are without risk. It is important to know that they can interact with certain medications and can complicate conditions. Laxative use can be dangerous if constipation is caused by a serious condition such appendicitis or a bowel obstruction. Additionally, laxative overuse can lead to dependency and decrease bowel function, thus can aggravate symptoms.
Therefore, if constipation has lasted more than two weeks, you need to check with your doctor. Also, call your doctor if constipation is a new problem for you; you have blood in your stool; you are losing weight (without dieting); or you have severe pain with bowel movements.