What should you do when you are constipated?


Quick Answer

Although laxatives are an effective treatment for constipation, WebMD does not recommend them unless lifestyle and dietary changes fail to produce any effect. When constipated, avoid eating foods high in fat and low in fiber such as dairy and meat. Instead, eat vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, and whole grains. Drink at least eight glasses of water per day, and exercise regularly to keep the bowels moving.

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Full Answer

According to WebMD, laxatives should only be used for short-term relief to avoid allowing the bowels to become dependent on them. Ease off of them slowly. Although mineral oils are sometimes suggested by health websites and blogs, long-term use can lead to vitamin deficiencies and worsen constipation.

To help treat chronic constipation, WebMD suggests setting aside time each day to defecate. Do not try to hold in the urge to go, since this can worsen constipation. Do not leave constipation untreated for too long because that can lead to hemorrhoids, anal fissures and rectal prolapse.

If resorting to laxatives, WebMD recommends bulk-forming laxatives that are safe to take every day. Essentially another form of fiber supplements, bulk-forming laxatives make the stool larger and softer, but can cause bloating, cramps and gas. They should be taken alongside plenty of water.

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