How to prevent constipation

Eat three meals per day at least 4 hours apart. Frequent feeding keeps your intestines contracting and moving stool along.

Drink at least 32 oz. (one quart) of water per day, not including what you drink at meal time.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which deplete body water stores. If you can’t avoid these, then match your caffeinated or alcoholic beverage intake with an equal amount of water.

If your diet is not extremely high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, by all means take a bulk fiber supplement How to prevent constipation

The preceding advice is mainly preventative, but it can be helpful in mild cases of existing constipation, too. If you stimulate the colon enough, contractions will help get the hardened stool out. Try prunes or other fruits, or even caffeine to stimulate contractions, as well as moderate exercise. But don’t jog too far away from a bathroom!

If constipation is quite severe, or special circumstances (such as hemorrhoids) make it mportant to control quickly, then consider these laxative groups:

Bulk fiber laxatives. Different brands have different ingredients, but they all just add bulk to the stool and prevent too much water from being absorbed. They may take awhile to take effect (12 hours to 3 days).

Stool softeners. These can be effective if your stool is too hard or dry to come out, despite normal bowel contractions. They are mainly preventative, but can work very quickly when combined with a stimulant laxative.

Stimulant laxatives. These stimulate bowel contractions quickly, but don’t soften the stools at all. They are often combined with stool softeners.

Glycerin suppositories. Promptly effective, usually within 1/2 hour. They both soften the stool and stimulate contractions. They only work on the stool that is in the rectum and lower colon.
Enemas and oral magnesium solutions. Avoid these unless directed by a physician.

Sometimes constipation results in stools so hard they won’t come out no matter what you try at home. This is called stool impaction. Don’t delay any longer — see your doctor immediately. If an impaction isn’t removed, it can cause total bowel obstruction and require hospitalization.

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