Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
For the last week, I have been having a difficult time with my bowel movement. I normally have a bowel movement every other day, but last week it was only twice. I sit there for quite some time, after straining, my poops are small hard roundish balls.
Nearly everyone gets constipated at some time in their life, and normally it will last for only a short time. Any change in lifestyle or eating habits can contribute to constipation. Also, constipation may be caused by certain medicines such as calcium supplements, iron supplements, antacids, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, or pain killers.
To help relieve or prevent constipation add more fiber to your diet, keep hydrated, and exercise.
1. Hydrate. Drink plenty of water, about 8 glasses daily. Fruit juices, especially prune and pear nectar help loosen stools also.
2. Fiber rich foods, include some of the following every day:
Fruits that are high in fiber: pears, apples, peaches, oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, cantaloupe, figs, prunes, raisins, apricots, and raspberries.
Vegetables: peas, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, potato, corn, carrots, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, cabbage.
Whole grain cereal, pasta, and breads.
Beans and nuts.
3. Exercise regularly. At least a 30 minute walk several times a week.
If your constipation lasts for more than two weeks, then see your doctor. Your physician may recommend taking a laxative to help pass stool.
For a detailed list of foods high in fiber, see the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21, Nutrient Lists