Constipation is passage of hard, dry bowel movements, or less frequent movements, often fewer than three times a week. People who are constipated may find it difficult and painful to have a bowel movement.


Symptoms of constipation include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Infrequent or hard bowel movements
  • Rectal pain or bleeding

Risk Factors

Risk factors for constipation include:

  • Inadequate intake of dietary fiber and/or water
  • Medications: for example, pain or high blood pressure medicines
  • Lack of exercise
  • Travel
  • Other medical problems

Treatment Options

Treatment options for individuals with constipation vary and may include the following:

  • Follow a special diet, high in fiber
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Take over-the-counter laxatives or stool softeners, as needed
  • Incorporate probiotics into your diet
  • Treat underlying medical conditions, if necessary

Diagnostic Testing

The foremost diagnostic test for any condition is a thorough exam and consultation with a physician, including a review of your individual and family history. In addition, your physician may recommend any of the following tests or procedures, which may provide further diagnostic value:

  • Anorectal manometry
  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests (which may include one or more of the following: ultrasound, x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan)
  • Stool tests
  • Colonoscopy

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