Symptoms of constipation can be relieved by adding more fiber into the diet with foods such as breads, cereals, vegetables, beans and dried fruits, drinking eight glasses of water each day and taking laxatives. However, WebMD states that laxatives should only be taken if dietary changes and increased fluid intake don't provide relief.
Mayo Clinic explains that constipation can also be treated with fiber supplements that contain ingredients such as psyllium and guar gum that increase stool bulk as well as stool softening supplements that pull water from the intestines. Mineral oil can also help to lubricate the colon and encourage healthy elimination.
According to MedlinePlus, constipation is typically caused by low fiber diets, lack of exercise and inadequate fluid intake, but it can also indicate underlying medical conditions such as colon cancer, thyroid disorders and conditions of the nervous system. Constipation can also accompany pregnancy and irritable bowel syndrome. It is important for individuals experiencing constipation to consult with a medical professional if symptoms are accompanied by extreme abdominal pain, blood in the stools, weight loss or rectal discomfort. Parents of non-breastfeeding infants should contact a pediatrician if their children go three days without a bowel movement. If a child's constipation is accompanied by irritability or vomiting, parents should seek immediate medical attention.