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Constipation is a common and often uncomfortable problem. Constipation means you have bowel movements fewer than three times per week, or strain to pass hard, dry stool. It can last a short time. Or it can be a problem that never seems to go away. The good news is that it can often be treated and controlled.
One of the best ways to help treat constipation is to increase your fiber intake. You can do this either through diet or by using fiber supplements. Fiber (in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) adds bulk and absorbs water to soften the stool. This helps the stool pass through the colon more easily. When you increase your fiber intake, do it slowly to avoid side effects such as bloating. Also increase the amount of water that you drink, too. Eating more of the following foods can add fiber to your diet.
Whole grains, bran, and brown rice
Vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, and greens
Fresh fruits (especially apples, pears, and dried fruits like raisins and apricots)
Nuts and legumes (especially beans such as lentils, kidney beans, and lima beans)
Exercise helps improve the working of your colon. This helps ease constipation. Try to get some activity every day. If you haven’t been active for a while, talk to your health care provider before starting again.
Some laxatives stimulate the colon to work more quickly. However, using laxatives too often can lead to dependency If you use laxatives often, talk to the doctor. He or she can help you ease off of them. And don’t use stimulant laxatives without talking to your health care provider first.
Note: Your health care provider may suggest an over-the-counter product to help ease your constipation. If so, follow directions carefully when using it.