Constipation can be defined as less than three spontaneous bowel movements a week with infrequent, hard stools that may require straining and an incomplete sense of evacuation.
“Less than three spontaneous bowel movements a week, with infrequent, hard stools that may require straining and an incomplete sense of evacuation.”
Although you may think you should have a bowel movement every day...that is not true. There is no "right" number, and almost everyone experiences constipation. Understanding the causes leads to prevention and a more comfortable way of living.
“There is no ’right’ number of bowel movements per day or week.”
More than 2.5 million Americans visit their physicians each year seeking relief from constipation. An acute change in your bowel habits, at any age, warrants evaluation by your doctor.
Quality of life is usually the main focus for addressing constipation, especially if hemorrhoids or anal fissures (tears) become aggravated. Constipation should be treated with a high-fiber diet. Natural laxatives or enemas may be appropriate in addition to newer medications.
Behavioral changes and a high-fiber diet benefit many patients. Large amounts of fiber can cause bloating. Drinking mineral oil is not recommended.
Not all patients with constipation are alike. Speak with your healthcare provider, especially if your symptoms are new, severe, last longer than 3 weeks, or are associated with bleeding, weight loss, fevers, or overall weakness. Get screened for colorectal cancer if appropriate.
Eat more fiber.
Drink plenty of water, fruit and vegetable juices.
The goal should be 3-4 liters (not glasses) of water daily.
Get enough exercise.
Review your current medications with your doctor.
Allow yourself time to have a bowel movement.
Use laxatives only if a doctor says you should.
Magnesium may help if your doctor says you can try it.
Review your medications with your doctor.