What is constipation?
Constipation is defined as having less than three bowel movements a week. Constipation also means having hard, dry and small stools that are hard to eliminate. It can also cause bloating and make you feel as if you have a full stomach or bowel. Normal bowel habits vary, but whenever you have a significant or prolonged Change in your bowel habits, check with your health care provider. (12-13)
What OTC medications help relieve constipation?
With any type of constipation medication, drink 48 to 64 oz. of water each day because it brings more water into the large intestine and the stool. Many laxative treatment options are available for constipation. (12-14)
Fiber laxatives bulk up or increase the size of the stool. it takes 12 hours to three days to start providing relief, but works longer in helping to prevent constipation.
Stool softener laxatives soften the stool to prevent straining. They are used to help people suffering from hemorrhoids and high blood pressure and recovering from surgery or a heart attack.
Enemas and suppositories are also stimulant laxatives, but taken rectally (through the anus). An enema is liquid in a squeezable bottle. A suppository is small and solid and shaped like a bullet. Both relieve constipation by stimulating the lower part of the colon and rectum, which helps move the stool and typically work in 15 minutes to one hour.
How can constipation be prevented?
Adding fiber, drinking more water, exercising and keeping the same routine all help prevent constipation. It is also important to go to the bathroom when you feel the need (12-13)