1 AnswerAshley Koff, RD, Nutrition & Dietetics, answeredChronic constipation and diarrhea are very common, yet there are numerous possible reasons causing either one, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), medications, infections, etc. The common denominator here is an imbalance in the body's movement of food through the digestive tract. Somewhere, there's an imbalance and the result is constipation or diarrhea -- and in some cases, an alternating of the two.
Since constipation may have one or more causes, it is important to identify the reason(s) for the constipation in order to correct the problem as simply, and as specifically, as possible.
Several tests of intestinal and anal function are available to help determine the cause or causes in each individual case. Examination of the anorectal area is usually the first step. Examination of the intestine, either with a flexible lighted instrument or with a barium x-ray study, may also be important.
A marker study, during which small markers, given by mouth, are followed for several days with repeated x-rays, can give clues to disorders of muscle function of the intestine itself.
Testing of the function of the anus and rectum during the act of elimination can be helpful in determining malfunction of the anorectal muscles, or internal disorders of the rectum such as a rectocele (a pocket forming just above the anal muscle) or rectal prolapse (a portion of the rectal wall sliding down to, or beyond, the anus).
Such tests may include video defecography (an x-ray of the function of the anorectal area) or anorectal manometry (which tests nerves and muscles of the anorectum).
While many people find considerable relief from constipation after a month, for others the process of adding more fiber to the diet may take up to six months or more to work.
There is usually no way to predict in advance how quickly a particular individual will respond to such a program.
Fiber supplements can be taken on a daily basis with no ill effects at all. In fact, the typical American diet would be made substantially healthier with the addition of more dietary fiber. Ultimately, the goal should be consumption of adequate fiber in your daily diet to prevent constipation. Fiber supplements are an easy and effective way to do this.
1 AnswerIntermountain Healthcare answeredIf you are constipated, you are having trouble with bowel movements (pooping).
Constipation is uncomfortable, but it's usually not serious. In some cases, you may need to see a doctor.
Here are some things you can do to prevent and treat constipation:
- Eat a healthy diet. Include more vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains. These foods have a lot of fiber. Fiber helps make bowel movements easier.
- Limit low-fiber foods. If you are often constipated, limit foods like ice cream, cheese, and meat.
- Drink plenty of water. Drink 8 cups of water every day -- unless your doctor has told you to limit fluids.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. Exercise makes your whole body work better.
- Visit the bathroom more often. Go when you first feel the need to urinate (pee) or have a bowel movement. It's not good to hold things in.
- Try medicine. You can buy medicine for constipation at the store. Look on the label for the words stool softener or laxative. But don't use laxatives for more than a week. And do not give laxatives to a baby or child unless your doctor says to.
To help prevent constipation after surgery:
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- Drink six to eight glasses of water a day (unless told otherwise).
- Increase fiber in your diet; some good sources of fiber are fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, beans, and high-fiber cereals.
- Take stool softeners if prescribed by your doctor.
- Limit narcotics use.
- Increase activity.
Many cereals, breads and grains have fiber, such as:
- Bran flakes, shredded wheat
- Bran muffins
- Graham crackers
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread
Have your child eat one or two fruits and one or two green vegetables a day:
- Dried fruits such as prunes, figs, dates, and raisins
- Peaches, pears, and apricots
- All types of beans and peas such as baked beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, and lima beans
- Cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage
Call your child’s doctor if:
- What you have been told to try is not working after three to five days.
- Your child is having stomach pains or cramps even with treatment.
- Your child has blood in his stool.
- Your child has repeated problems with constipation.
- Your child is toilet trained and begins having accidents or soils his pants.
- You have other concerns or questions.
- Feed your child at the same time every day.
- Have your child exercise regularly.
- Allow time for your child to sit on the toilet so he can have a stool.
- Have regular toilet times for your child once or twice a day – after eating a meal is best.
- Avoid making toileting a “big” issue.
- Do not criticize or embarrass your child about his toileting problems.