Constipation, functional

  • Difficult or infrequent bowel movements
  • Symptoms may include hard stools and the feeling of incomplete bowel movement
  • Cause may be due to problems with digestion, low fiber or fluid intake or medication side effects
  • Cannot be spread from person to person
  • Affects males and females but more common in females
  • Can occur at any age but more common in elderly
  • May be mild with few symptoms to severe and debilitating requiring surgery

GENERAL THERAPY

  • Take short walks each day, approximately 20 minutes long
  • Drink plenty of fluids (especially water), 8-10 glasses of water per day
  • Include lots of fiber, fruit and vegetables in your diet each day
  • Try to set a time each day for a bowel movement, like after breakfast
  • Over-the-counter medicine (refer to manufacturer’s recommendations for dosage):
    • Stool softeners
    • Bulk forming laxatives
    • Enemas
    • Glycerin suppositories

 

PRECAUTIONS AND AVOIDANCES

  • Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine
  • Avoid foods high in sugar and fat
  • Do not ignore the signal for a bowel movement; the stools will become hard and difficult to pass

 

SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IF:

  • Ongoing or chronic constipation
  • If the constipation is causing other problems
  • If the constipation gets worse
  • If rectal pain develops or increases
  • If there is blood in the stools
  • Abdominal pain develops
  • Fever develops
  • Vomiting develops
  • If leakage of stool occurs

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