Constipation is more common with age, but doesn’t have to be. Simple changes in diet and activity levels can make a difference.
Constipation occurs when a person has three or fewer bowel movements in a week. The stool is hard and dry and sometimes painful to pass.
At one time or another almost everyone becomes constipated. In most cases, it lasts for a short time and is not serious.
Try these suggestions for avoiding constipation:
Get routine exercise. A 20 to 30 minute walk helps with regularity.
Check medication doses. If medicines contribute to a lack of regularity, talk with your physician about changing the dose.
Increase dietary fiber intake. At least 20 grams of fiber a day can help keep constipation at bay. Whole grains, vegetables, fresh fruit, beans and high fiber cereals are some food options.
Drink more fluids. Fiber needs lots of liquid to keep you regular. Too much fiber and not enough liquid will contribute to, rather than relieve, constipation.
Don’t ignore the urge to go. When your body tells you it’s time to go, don’t ignore it. The longer your food sits in your large intestine, the more water is drawn away from it. That means you’ll have a more difficult time relieving yourself later.
Use laxatives sparingly. Your body can begin to rely on laxatives. Talk to your doctor before using them.
Don’t ignore continued problems. If these suggestions do not help or if constipation seems to be a continuing problem, talk with your physician. It could be a symptom of other health issues.