Constipation in Adults

Common causes of constipation include not having enough fiber in what you eat, or enough liquid in the diet. Poor bowel habits and some medicines and illnesses can also cause constipation.

Treatment of Constipation:

  • Use of medicines that are over-the-counter (you do not need a prescription). Good choices include:
    • stool softeners like Colace® – these make the stools easier to pass
    • laxatives like Milk of Magnesia® help empty the bowel – the usual adult dose is 30 cc
    • if this does not work, use a glycerine suppository or the stronger Dulcolax® suppository
    • if this does not work, use a Fleet® enema
  • Do NOT use the above laxatives or enemas day after day for a long time, as they cause “lazy bowel,” a condition in which you cannot pass stool without the use of stronger and stronger laxatives. Do not use mineral oil containing laxatives day after day, as these take away some vitamins.
  • itchy and watery eyes.
  • Laxatives like Metamucil are bulk-forming laxatives. These are SAFE to use daily for long-term prevention of constipation. Take plenty of fluids with these.
  • Do not rush your bowel movements. Set aside a regular time each day; for example, after a meal. Try to establish a regular routine.
  • Eat a good diet, with little “junk food.” Fiber helps make stools soft and easier to pass, and helps prevent cancer of the colon.
  • Avoid constipating foods like mild, dairy products, and foods high in sugar.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Drink 8 glasses of water each day. Drink at least one glass of fruit juice per day..
  • Exercise regularly. Walking is a good form of exercise.

See your doctor if your constipation lasts longer than 2 weeks.

Visit the OUCC or the Emergency Department if you have a fever and abdominal pain, or if you have red blood in your stools.