Constipation

Causes This can occur because of a change in routine or diet. It less commonly occurs because of a lack of exercise or for no discernable reason.


Treatment Although excercise and drinking more water are often recommended for constipation  the simplest and probably most effective is to increase the roughage or non-digestible fibre in your diet - more fruit, vegetables, cereals with bran or wheat fibre and wholemeal bread. This is usually successful for mild constipation. 

However if this doesn't work it is perfectly safe to take laxatives. They work in 5 different ways:


     to soften the stools....................................use lactulose

     to lubricate the stools................................use liquid paraffin

     to increase the bulk of the stools.................use fybogel

     to stimulate the bowel to contract...............use senekot 

     to draw water into the lumen of the bowel...use 'salts'                                                                       


When you buy a laxative, ask your pharmacist how it works - the most gentle are lactulose and fybogel - others with a stimulant action are more powerful and may have side effects such as colicky abdominal pain and urgent diarrhoea with incontinence. 

Those which stimulate or draw water into the bowel always work if you take enough of them!  

If your problem doesn't settle completely after simple treatments or keeps coming back when you stop treatment see your GP.
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