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Constipation - what to ask your doctor

Definition

Constipation is when you are passing stools less often than you normally do. Your stool becomes 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 go.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you take care of your constipation.

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about 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 the doctor?


Review Date: 10/8/2012
Reviewed By: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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