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How is constipation treated?
Although treatment depends on the cause, severity, and duration, in most cases dietary and lifestyle changes will help relieve symptoms of constipation and help prevent it.
Constipation Treatment: Diet
A diet with enough fiber (20 to 35 grams each day) helps form soft, bulky stool. A doctor or dietitian can help plan an appropriate diet. High-fiber foods include beans, whole grains and bran cereals, fresh fruits, and vegetables such as asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and carrots. For people prone to constipation, limiting foods that have little or no fiber, such as ice cream, cheese, meat, and processed foods, is also important.
Constipation Treatment: Lifestyle Changes
Other changes that can help treat and prevent constipation include drinking enough water and other liquids such as fruit and vegetable juices and clear soups, engaging in daily exercise, and reserving enough time to have a bowel movement. In addition, the urge to have a bowel movement should not be ignored.
Constipation Treatment: Laxatives
Most people who are mildly constipated do not need laxatives. However, for those who have made diet and lifestyle changes and are still constipated, doctors may recommend laxatives or enemas for a limited time. These treatments can help retrain a chronically sluggish bowel. For children, short-term treatment with laxatives, along with retraining to establish regular bowel habits, also helps prevent constipation.