Lifestyle changes can help you avoid constipation. These changes can also be used to treat it.
Things you can do include:
- Drink plenty of fluids each day (drink at least 8 glasses of water every day).
- Eat a lot of high fiber-foods.
- Exercise regularly.
- Use the toilet when you feel the urge. Do not wait.
For infants with constipation:
- Over 2 months old: Try 2 to 4 ounces of fruit juice (grape, pear, apple, cherry, or prune) twice a day.
- Over 4 months old: If the baby has started to eat solid foods, try baby foods with high-fiber content such as peas, beans, apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums, and spinach twice a day.
Regular exercise may also help establish regular bowel movements. If you are confined to a wheelchair or bed, change position often. Also do abdominal exercises and leg raises. A physical therapist can recommend exercises that you can do.
Stool softeners (such as those containing docusate sodium) may help. Bulk laxatives such as psyllium may help add fluid and bulk to the stool. Suppositories or gentle laxatives, such as milk of magnesia liquid, may help you have regular bowel movements.
Enemas or stimulant laxatives should only be used in severe cases. These methods should be used only if fiber, fluids, and stool softeners do not provide enough relief.
Do NOT give laxatives or enemas to children without first asking your doctor.