You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It may include a digital rectal exam of the rectum with the doctor's gloved, lubricated finger inserted into your rectum.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
Your bodily structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:
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Treatment may include:
Understanding Normal Bowel Movements
Talk to your doctor about what is a normal frequency of bowel movements for you. The range of normal is quite broad. Some people have several stools a day. Others have 1 stool every several days.
Making Lifestyle Changes
Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is
high in fiber
and includes foods such as unprocessed bran, whole-wheat grains, fresh fruit, and cereals. Eating prunes may also improve bowel movements.
- Limit your intake of processed and fatty foods.
- Drink plenty of water each day.
Taking Laxatives, Stool Softeners, or Glycerin Suppositories
Regularly using laxatives or enemas can be habit forming. Your bowels can become used to these products and require them to produce a stool. Stool softeners, though, are not habit-forming. Ask your doctor about how often and for how long to use these products.
Examples of medications include:
- Polyethylene glycol 3350—a type of laxative
- Psyllium—a bulk laxative
- Docusate—a stool softener
- Lactulose—a type of laxative
- Lubiprostone—a medication that increases fluid in stool
- Botulism injections—may be used to treat certain types of constipation
Retraining Your Bowels
Set aside the same time each day to move your bowels. Typically, this works best first thing in the morning. Sit on the toilet for 15-20 minutes. Over time, your body will learn to have regular bowel movements at the same time each day.
may be effective in certain conditions. By working with a therapist, you learn how to control certain muscles that can help you to move your bowels.
Treating Underlying Conditions
Work with your doctor to treat other conditions that may be causing your constipation.
If you are taking medication that causes constipation, talk to your doctor to find out if you can take a different medication.
If you are taking opioids to relieve pain, you may have constipation. A medication called
methylnaltrexone may help to reduce this side effect.
If you have severe, chronic constipation, your doctor may recommend surgery.
If you are diagnosed with constipation, follow your doctor's