Constipation is difficulty in passing hard stools associated with the failure to have a regular motion. Any sudden prolonged change in bowel habits including the consistency of the stool, the appearance of blood or mucus, should be thoroughly investigated by your doctor.

The commonest cause of constipation is related to diet, which can be low in fibre and fluid. It can also be associated with a lack of physical activity, and is also seen as a side effect of many used drugs. Severe constipation in young to middle aged adults occurs more in the female than the male. Treatment consists of:

Setting aside a definite time of day for a bowel movement, after food and generally after breakfast. Rushing off to work without adequate breakfast and a visit to the toilet is a sure way to encourage constipation.
Diet should include foods with high fibre content such as bran, vegetables and raw fruit. Prunes are an old remedy. Stewed fruits can help.
6 to 8 glasses of fluid daily is necessary to move intestinal contents through the bowel.
Regular exercise is essential. Good tone of the abdominal muscles is important.
Medication should be used only in difficult cases.
Bulk forming laxatives are best. Irritant laxatives should only be used occasionally. The bulk producing laxatives can be used regularly and should be taken with plenty of fluid. In difficult cases the regular use of a bulk producing laxative with a good nutritious balanced diet, adequate in fibre and fluid content, is often sufficient. Additional laxatives may still be necessary as part of a retraining programme for the bowel. Once regular habits have been established diet and a bulk producing laxative should be all that is needed.

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