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What is Constipation?


When Should I Call My Doctor?

Call your doctor right away if you have sudden constipation with abdominal pain or cramping and you are not able to pass any gas or stool.

Also, call your doctor if:

  • Constipation is a new problem for you
  • You have blood in your stool
  • You are losing weight even though you are not dieting
  • You have severe pain with bowel movements
  • Your constipation has lasted more than two weeks
  • You have pencil-thin stools


Can I Prevent Constipation?

In many cases, you can. These things help:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber. Good sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain bread and cereal (especially bran).
  • Drink 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of water and other fluids a day (unless your doctor has you on a fluid-restricted diet). Fiber and water work together to keep you regular.
  • Avoid caffeine. It can be dehydrating.
  • Check on milk. Some people may need to avoid it because dairy products may be constipating for them.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Go to the bathroom when you feel the urge.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on June 27, 2015
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