Dr. Marc Basson received his undergraduate and medical education at the University of Michigan, surgical training at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, Downstate Medical Center, and St. Mary's Hospital, and then earned a PhD in Experimental Pathology at Yale University before becoming an Assistant and then Associate Professor of Surgery at Yale.
If the patient's bowel is not blocked, realistic goals of medical treatment
must be established between the patient and health care professional.
All cases will require dietary advice. Treatment may be difficult, particularly in those with chronic constipation.
The doctor may prescribe bulk-forming agents in addition to dietary changes.
Increased activity in the elderly and regular exercise in younger people will help.
Constipation in Adults Self-Care at Home
Fiber: Get more fiber or bulk in
the diet. If this cannot be done adequately by diet changes, consider adding a fiber supplement to
the diet. There are many of these available, including
psyllium (Metamucil) and
methylcellulose (Citrucel). In general, these fiber supplements are not drugs and are safe and effective if taken together with sufficient water. They are not laxatives and must be taken regularly
(whether you are constipated or not) in order for them to help you avoid future constipation. They are generally taken suspended in a glass of water one to three times daily. Start with once
a day dose, and increase to twice daily after a week, and then to three times daily after another week if necessary.
Exercise: Regular physical activity is an important component in bowel health. Try a daily exercise such as the knee-to-chest position. Such positions may activate bowel movements. Spend about 10-15 minutes in this position. Breathe in and out deeply.
Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids, especially water and fruit juices. Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily in addition to beverages with meals.
Alcohol and Caffeine: Decrease alcohol intake and caffeinated beverages, including coffee,
tea, or cola drinks. In general, it is a good idea to have an extra glass of
water (over and above the 6 to 8 daily mentioned previously) for every cup of
coffee, tea, or alcoholic drink.
Bowel Hygiene: Go to the toilet at the same time every day, preferably after meals, and
allow enough time as not to strain.
Laxatives: Avoid using over-the-counter laxatives. Try to avoid laxatives containing senna (Senokot) or buckthorn (Rhamnus purshiana) because long-term intake may damage the lining of
the bowel and injure nerve endings in the colon.