In mild cases, treatment for constipation may only require dietary and lifestyle changes. In more severe cases, the doctor may recommend laxatives or enemas for short-term treatment. Other options, such as biofeedback or surgery, may be necessary for chronic or extreme types of constipation.
Although treatment for constipation depends on the cause, severity, and duration of the condition, dietary and lifestyle changes can help relieve symptoms in most cases and can also help prevent constipation in the future.
A diet with enough fiber (20 to 35 grams each day) helps form soft, bulky stool. This makes the stool easier to pass. A doctor or dietitian can help you plan an appropriate diet that is high in fiber. High-fiber foods include:
- Whole grains and bran cereals
- Fresh fruits
- Vegetables such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and carrots.
For people who are prone to constipation, limiting foods that have little or no fiber (such as ice cream, cheese, meat, and processed foods) is important as a way to prevent constipation.
Other changes that can help prevent and treat constipation include:
- Drinking enough water and other liquids such as fruit and vegetable juices and clear soups
- Engaging in daily exercise
- Reserving enough time to have a bowel movement.
In addition, the urge to have a bowel movement should not be ignored.