• Constipation can usually be treated effectively at home.

  • First try:

    • Gentle exercise. Take a short walk each day. Gradually increase your walking time until you are walking for at least 20 minutes.
    • Make sure you drink enough fluids. Most adults should try to drink between 8 and 10 glasses of water, noncaffeinated beverages, and/or fruit juice each day. Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine, which can increase dehydration. If you have congestive heart failure or kidney failure, talk to your health professional about what amount of fluid is right for you.
    • Include fruits, vegetables, and fiber in your diet each day. Have a bran muffin or bran cereal for breakfast, and try eating a piece of fruit for a mid-afternoon snack.
    • Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. Establishing a daily routine (after breakfast, for example) may help. Take your time. Don't be in a hurry.
  • If you are still constipated:

    • Add some processed or synthetic fiber (such as Citrucel, Metamucil, or Perdiem) to your diet each day.
    • Try a stool softener, such as Colace, if your stools are very hard.
  • If constipation persists, add a saline laxative, such as Fleet Phospho-Soda or Milk of Magnesia. You should not take these types of laxatives if you are on a sodium-restricted diet or have kidney problems or high blood pressure.
  • You may occasionally need to try a stimulant laxative, such as Ex-Lax or Feen-a-Mint. Use these preparations sparingly. Regular use may interfere with your body's ability to absorb vitamin D and calcium, which can weaken your bones.
  • Overuse of stimulant laxatives decreases the tone and sensation in the large intestine, causing dependence on laxatives. Do not use laxatives for longer than two weeks without consulting your health professional.

SYMPTOMS TO WATCH FOR DURING HOME TREATMENT

If one or more of the following symptoms occur during home treatment, use the Check Your Symptoms section in this topic to evaluate the symptoms.

  • New constipation occurs or other bowel habit changes continue after one week of home treatment.
  • Ongoing (chronic) constipation:

    • Is causing new problems.
    • Has gotten worse.
    • Is accompanied by other bowel habit changes (changes in the size, shape, or consistency of your stools).
  • Rectal pain develops or increases.
  • Blood in the stool develops or increases.
  • Abdominal pain or fever develops.
  • Vomiting develops.
  • Uncontrolled leakage of stool occurs.
  • Your symptoms become more severe or more frequent.

For children under 12:
Constipation can usually be treated effectively at home.

  • First try:

    • Gentle exercise. Take a short walk each day. Gradually increase your walking time until you are walking for at least 20 minutes.
    • Make sure you drink enough fluids. Most adults should try to drink between 8 and 10 glasses of water, noncaffeinated beverages, and/or fruit juice each day. Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine, which can increase dehydration. If you have congestive heart failure or kidney failure, talk to your health professional about what amount of fluid is right for you.
    • Include fruits, vegetables, and fiber in your diet each day. Have a bran muffin or bran cereal for breakfast, and try eating a piece of fruit for a mid-afternoon snack.
    • Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. Establishing a daily routine (after breakfast, for example) may help. Take your time. Don't be in a hurry.
  • If you are still constipated:

    • Add some processed or synthetic fiber (such as Citrucel, Metamucil, or Perdiem) to your diet each day.
    • Try a stool softener, such as Colace, if your stools are very hard.
  • If constipation persists, add a saline laxative, such as Fleet Phospho-Soda or Milk of Magnesia. You should not take these types of laxatives if you are on a sodium-restricted diet or have kidney problems or high blood pressure.
  • You may occasionally need to try a stimulant laxative, such as Ex-Lax or Feen-a-Mint. Use these preparations sparingly. Regular use may interfere with your body's ability to absorb vitamin D and calcium, which can weaken your bones.
  • Overuse of stimulant laxatives decreases the tone and sensation in the large intestine, causing dependence on laxatives. Do not use laxatives for longer than two weeks without consulting your health professional.

SYMPTOMS TO WATCH FOR DURING HOME TREATMENT

If one or more of the following symptoms occur during home treatment, use the Check Your Symptoms section in this topic to evaluate the symptoms.

  • New constipation occurs or other bowel habit changes continue after one week of home treatment.
  • Ongoing (chronic) constipation:

    • Is causing new problems.
    • Has gotten worse.
    • Is accompanied by other bowel habit changes (changes in the size, shape, or consistency of your stools).
  • Rectal pain develops or increases.
  • Blood in the stool develops or increases.
  • Abdominal pain or fever develops.
  • Vomiting develops.
  • Uncontrolled leakage of stool occurs.
  • Your symptoms become more severe or more frequent.

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