health care  
All about constipation causes of constipation symptoms of constipation risk factors for constipation complications of constipation diagnosis of constipation treatments to cure constipation constipation remedies prevention of constipation infant constipation causes of baby constipation treatments for child constipation constipation during pregnancy Articles in signs and symptoms of digestive diseases - diarrhea vomiting nausea gas in the digestive tract heartburn constipation

How to prevent constipation?

Eat a high fiber diet. In almost all cases, dietary modifications can correct constipation. Eating plenty of foods that contain fiber is the mainstay of treatment. Fiber acts like a sponge in the intestines, holding in water. As the stool absorbs water, it becomes softer and easier to pass. But, most Americans do not get enough fiber in their diet. The goal should be about 25 grams a day most of us get between 10-15 grams a day. Fiber is found in fruits such as apples, bananas, berries, pears,

and prunes. Vegetables such as beans, carrots, corn, and spinach contain healthy amounts of fiber. Try to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet each day at least five to six servings daily.

Add a fiber supplement once to twice a day. These bulk-forming agents contain vegetable fibers of the psyllium seed (Metamucil, Fibercon) or cellulose derivatives (Citrucel). Simple unprocessed wheat bran is the cheapest fiber supplement. Fiber supplements are safe long term, but may lead to increased bloating and gas until your body gets used to them.

Daily use of 500 mg vitamin C and 400 mg magnesium can prevent constipation. If symptoms do occur, each dosage can be increased by 100 mg a day, up to a maximum of 5,000 mg vitamin C and 1,000 mg magnesium. Use of preventive doses should be resumed after relief occurs, and vitamin C should be decreased to the pre-diarrhea dosage if the patient develops diarrhea.

Drink plenty of fluids when adding extra fiber. Drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Plain water is best, but any non-caffeinated nonalcoholic beverage is fine. Get in the habit of drinking a whole glass of water when you take a pill and pour yourself a full glass of water at every meal. Keep water on your desk and sip it during the day. Be aware that drinking water alone is not enough to prevent constipation. Without fiber, the water is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and the excess is quickly excreted as urine. Hot beverages, such as coffee, tea or hot water may stimulate bowel movements.

Regular exercise improves digestion and reduces stress. Get some physical exercise every day. Even simple exercises like walking and stretching can be of benefit. Special abdominal exercises may be necessary to tone up muscles. A regular bowel habit is preferred. The best time is usually the first hour after breakfast. Don't hurry and sit for at least 10 minutes, regardless of whether you manage to pass a stool. Don't strain. The frequency of bowel movements among healthy people varies from three movements a day to three a week. Individuals must determine what is normal. As a rule, constipation should be suspected if more than three days pass between bowel movements or if there is difficulty or pain when passing a hardened stool. Most people experience occasional short bouts of constipation, but if a laxative is necessary for longer than three weeks, check with a doctor.

Develop a regular schedule. Food entering the stomach sends a signal to the large intestine, telling it to empty and free up space for the next meal. This so called gastro-colic reflex is usually strongest after eating breakfast, making that the best time to eliminate.Dont ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. Nature knows best.

Avoid the chronic use of harsh laxatives. While the occasional use of over-the-counter remedies is not harmful, you should not use laxatives on a regular basis without your doctors approval. Some of the formulations may actually damage your colon and eventually worsen the condition. Stool softeners, or wetting agents, like Colace and Surfak and bulk-agents mentioned above are safe for longterm use.

More information on constipation

What is constipation? - Constipation is a condition in which too much water is absorbed from the large intestine back into the bloodstream, leaving the faeces dry, hard and difficult to expel.
What causes constipation? - Constipation is caused by a lack of fibre in the diet. In some people, constipation may result from repeatedly ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement.
What are the symptoms of constipation? - Symptoms associated with constipation include infrequent bowel movements, hard stools, straining when passing a motion, cramps, abdominal bloating, flatulence.
What're risk factors for constipation? - Risk factors for constipation include not enough liquids, lack of exercise, medications, irritable bowel syndrome, abuse of laxatives, and specific diseases.
What are the complications of constipation? - Most cases of constipation are due to inadequate dietary fiber intake, inadequate water intake, and reduced physical activity and are not serious.
How is constipation diagnosed? - The patient's observations and medical history help diagnose constipation. Other diagnostic procedures include a barium enema, which reveals blockage inside the intestine.
What's the treatment for constipation? - The first treatment for constipation is to eat a high fiber diet to provide natural bulk in daily food intake. Laxatives may be used to relieve constipation.
What're the alternative remedies for constipation? - Herbal therapies can be useful in the treatment of constipation. Homeopathy also can offer assistance with constipation.
How to prevent constipation? - Dietary modifications can correct constipation. Daily use of 500 mg vitamin C and 400 mg magnesium can prevent constipation.
What is infant constipation? - Constipation is a very common and frustrating problem in children. Constipation is most commonly caused by a diet that is low in fiber.
What causes baby constipation? - Constipation in children usually is due to poor bowel habits. Bottlefed babies suffer from constipation because formula milk is harder for a baby to digest.
What're the treatments for child constipation? - Constipation is best treated by making changes in your child's diet. The goal of treatment is for your child to have one to two soft stools each day.
Constipation during pregnancy - Pregnant women may experience constipation, which can be very uncomfortable. Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy. 
Digestive health Mainpage

Topics in digestive disorders

Signs and symptoms of digestive diseases
Anal and rectal disorders
Diverticular disease
Inflammatory bowel diseases
Peptic disorders (Stomach disease)
Emergencies of digestive system
Liver diseases
Irritable bowel syndrome
Diagnostic tests for digestive disorders

Featured articles

Crohn's disease
Ulcerative colitis
Peptic ulcer
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Hepatitis C
Liver transplant
Colon cancer
Stomach cancer
Colorectal cancer (bowel cancer)

All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005