Try gentle exercise. Take a short walk each
day. Gradually increase your walking time until you are walking for at least 20
Make sure you drink enough fluids. Most adults should try
to drink between 8 and 10 glasses of water or noncaffeinated beverages each
day. Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine, which can increase
dehydration. If you have heart failure or kidney
failure, talk to your doctor about what amount of fluid is right for
Include fruits, vegetables, and fiber in your diet each day.
Have a bran muffin or bran cereal for breakfast, and try eating a piece of
fruit for a mid-afternoon snack.
Schedule time each day for a bowel
movement (after breakfast, for example). Establishing a daily routine may help.
Take your time. Do not be in a hurry.
Support your feet with a small step stool [about
6 in. (15 cm)] when you sit on
the toilet. This will help flex your hips and place your pelvis in a more
normal "squatting" position for having a bowel movement.
Try a stool
softener, such as Colace, if your stools are very hard.
rectal glycerin suppository. Follow the directions on the label. Do not use
more often than recommended on the label.
In difficult cases of constipation, it is better to
try a saline (osmotic)
laxative, such as Fleet Phospho-Soda, Milk of
Magnesia, lactulose, or Miralax. You should not take these types of laxatives if you are
on a sodium-restricted diet or you have kidney problems or high blood pressure.
Osmotic laxatives do not irritate the colon or cause dependence on laxatives
like stimulant laxatives can.
You may occasionally need to try a
laxative, such as Ex-Lax or Feen-a-Mint. Use these
preparations sparingly. Overuse of stimulant laxatives decreases the tone and
sensation in the large intestine, causing dependence on using laxatives.
Regular use may interfere with your body's ability to absorb vitamin D and
calcium, which can weaken your bones. Do not use laxatives for longer than 2
weeks without consulting your doctor.
If you are
still constipated, check your symptoms to determine if and when
you need to see your doctor.
Talk to your doctor before using an
enema. Your doctor may need to check your symptoms or may suggest a different
way to treat your constipation.