Constipation often results from too little fluids, too little fiber, too little activity, and older age. It can also be a side effect of some medications.
Signs and symptoms of constipation may include:

  • Less than three bowel movements a week
  • Bowel movements that are hard, dry and difficult to pass
  • Pain while having a bowel movement

Although it can be bothersome, the condition usually isn’t serious. Simple changes in your diet and routine are often very effective:

  • Eat a high-fiber diet. High-fiber foods soften and add bulk to stool. Foods high in fiber include beans, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. To reduce gas, increase fiber gradually.
  • Get adequate fluids. Water and other fluids soften stool.
  • Be active. Regular physical activity helps stimulate normal bowel function.
  • Don’t rush or delay bowel movements. Develop a bathroom routine. Don’t ignore the urge to have a bowel movement and give yourself plenty of time to pass stool.
  • Check your medications. If you take a drug that may be contributing to your constipation, talk to your doctor.

Laxatives can relieve or prevent constipation. They shouldn’t be given to children without a doctor’s permission.

  • Fiber supplements. Fiber supplements add bulk to stool. Make sure to drink plenty of water with these products.
  • Osmotics. Products such as milk of magnesia, magnesium citrate, and polyethylene glycol (MiraLax) help fluids move through the colon.
  • Stool softeners. They moisten stool by drawing water from the intestines

If you experience this condition often, it's advisable to find the root cause.

Excerpt From: The Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic A to Z Health Guide”.