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How do you treat constipation?

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Quick Answer

According to MedlinePlus, constipation can be treated by increasing the amount of fiber in the diet, drinking plenty of fluids and getting regular exercise. Stool softeners, suppositories and gentle laxatives can also promote regular bowel movements. In severe cases, stronger laxatives and enemas can be used to treat constipation, but these treatments should not be used on children without a doctor's consent, notes MedlinePlus.

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Constipation is generally associated with having infrequent bowel movements, hard stools or stools that are difficult to pass, and pain might be present during bowel movements. The condition often develops when a person doesn't drink enough water, consumes a low-fiber diet and gets very little or no exercise, but it can also be caused by more serious issues, including irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer, nervous system disorders, thyroid issues, medication use and mental health disorders, notes MedlinePlus. Pregnancy can also cause constipation to develop.

Medical intervention is necessary if a person develops sudden constipation accompanied by abdominal cramps and is unable to pass gas or stools. MedlinePlus also suggests seeking medical attention if laxatives are not working, there is blood in the stool, rectal pain is present, stools are very thin or if the person is experiencing alternating constipation and diarrhea.

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