FAQ #3:
What can I do about constipation?
You can take several steps to prevent and relieve constipation.

1. Eat more fiber (this is preventive, not curative). Fiber helps form soft, bulky stools and is found in many vegetables, fruits, and grains. Be sure to add fiber to your diet a little at a time so your body gets used to it. Limit foods that have little or no fiber such as pizza, ice cream, cheese, meat, snacks like chips, and processed foods such as instant mashed potatoes or frozen dinners.

fruit veggies Your doctor may suggest you take fiber pills or powder to help soften and bulk up the stool. You can buy fiber products in a pharmacy or grocery store without a prescription. Some fiber products are flavored while others are not. Be sure and take the fiber with plenty of water as directed.

Some people have gas and bloating at first when taking extra fiber. It helps to start with a small dose and gradually increase it. Let your doctor know if you are having problems that do not go away after a few days.

2. Drink plenty of water and other liquids such as fruit and vegetable juices and clear soups. Liquids have little effect on stool form; however, drinking enough fluids is important because dehydration can cause constipation. Try not to drink liquids that contain caffeine or alcohol if you feel thirsty or dehydrated.

3. Get enough exercise. Regular exercise helps your digestive system stay active and healthy. Exercising 20 to 30 minutes every day may help. Walk as often as you can, no matter how slowly or how short the walk, it helps to keep moving.

4. Visit the restroom when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement. Allow yourself enough time to relax. Sometimes people feel so hurried that they don’t pay attention to their body’s needs. Make sure you visit the restroom when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement. If you usually have a bowel movement at a certain time of day, visit the restroom around that time. Reading a book or magazine in the restroom can help you relax. If you cannot have a bowel movement within 10 minutes, get up and return the next time you get the urge.

5. Check with your doctor about any medicines you take. Some medicines can cause constipation. Be sure to ask your doctor if any medicines you are taking could cause constipation. Antibiotics & pain medications are said to contribute to a slow bowel.

6. Stimulate your own reflexology points. There are reflexology points on your feet, legs, stomach and hands that can be stimulated with pressure to help stimulate a bowel that is sluggish. These can be dramatically effective.

Points to Remember. Constipation may be present if you have five or fewer bowel movements in a week or if the stool is hard, dry, painful, sticky or difficult to pass. Constipation affects almost everyone at one time or another. In most cases, following these simple steps will help prevent constipation: Eat a variety of foods, especially vegetables & fruits. Drink plenty of water. Exercise regularly. Visit the restroom when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement. Fiber supplementation may help prevent constipation. Most people with mild constipation do not need laxatives. Some medicines can cause constipation.