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Constipation - what to ask your doctor

What to ask your doctor about constipation

Constipation is when you are passing stools less often than you normally do. Your stool may become hard and dry, and it is difficult to pass. You might feel bloated and have pain, or you might have to strain when you try to move your bowels.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you take care of your constipation.

Questions

How often should I go to the bathroom during the day? How long should I wait? What else can I do to train my body to have more regular bowel movements?

How should I change what I eat to help with my constipation?

  • What foods will help make my stools less hard?
  • How do I get more fiber in my diet?
  • What foods can make my problem worse?
  • How much fluid or liquids should I drink during the day?

Do any of the medicines, vitamins, herbs, or supplements I am taking cause constipation?

What products can I buy at the store to help with my constipation? What is the best way to take these?

  • Which ones can I take every day?
  • Which ones should I not take every day?
  • Should I take psyllium fiber (Metamucil)?
  • Can any of these items make my constipation worse?

If my constipation or hard stools started recently, does this mean I have a more serious medical problem?

When should I call my provider?

References

Gaines M. Constipation. In: Kellerman RD, Rakel DP, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2019. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:5-7.

Lembo AJ. Constipation. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 19.

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          Review Date: 10/13/2018

          Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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