Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What should I do about my constipation?"
For a week I have been having so much trouble with constipation and have never been through anything like this before. What's a good way to make it stop? is this just something that happens to people every once in a while or do I maybe have a stomach problem?
There are three general approaches I take to constipation. The first is to figure out why you are constipated. Many people get constipated because of medications they are taking (especially narcotic pain killers). Sometimes constipation can be a sign of bowel problems such as an obstruction or (in more rare cases) a malignancy such as colon cancer. The vast majority of the time, the cause is not found. Second, I attempt to make modifications to the patient's diet in attempts to relieve some of the pro-constipation aspects. You should increase the amount of fiber you get in your diet. Finally, over the counter stool softeners and bowel simulators can be useful. Examples of these include docusate, senna, and polyethylene glycol. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. The two of you can discuss your symptoms and come up with a plan for your constipation. If you are over the age of 50, then your doctor will likely want you to get a colonoscopy to make sure that you don't have an obstructive reason for your constipation. Your doctor will likely have a pamphlet that can review the different dietary changes that can be useful. Finally, your doctor can give you a prescription for some stool softeners to give you some relief now. Good luck!
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