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Constipation

A condition in which the stool becomes hard and dry. A person who is constipated usually has fewer than three bowel movements in a week. Bowel movements may be painful.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

About Constipation

Constipation is a condition in which you typically have:

  • fewer than three bowel movements a week
  • bowel movements with stools that are hard, dry, and small, making them painful or difficult to pass

Some people think they are constipated if they don't have a bowel movement every day. However, people can have different bowel movement patterns. Some people may have three bowel movements a day. Other people may only have three bowel movements a week.

Constipation most often lasts for only a short time and is not dangerous. You can take steps to prevent or relieve constipation...Read more about Constipation NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Stimulant laxatives for constipation and soiling in children

Constipation is a common childhood disorder traditionally treated with a combination of medical and behavioural approaches. There is insufficient evidence on the use and effectiveness of stimulant laxatives for the treatment of childhood constipation. More research is required.

Interventions for treating constipation in pregnancy

Mild laxatives help relieve constipation in pregnancy.

Polyethylene Glycol should be used in preference to Lactulose in the treatment of Chronic Constipation.

Constipation is a common clinical problem, encompassing much more than reduced stool frequency. In this review we compared two commonly used osmotic laxatives, Lactulose and Polyethylene Glycol (PEG).

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Summaries for consumers

Stimulant laxatives for constipation and soiling in children

Constipation is a common childhood disorder traditionally treated with a combination of medical and behavioural approaches. There is insufficient evidence on the use and effectiveness of stimulant laxatives for the treatment of childhood constipation. More research is required.

Comparing Drugs for Chronic Constipation

How do the drugs used to treat chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome with predominant constipation compare?

Interventions for treating constipation in pregnancy

Mild laxatives help relieve constipation in pregnancy.

See all (160)

More about Constipation

Photo of an adult

Also called: Constipated

See Also: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Enlarged Hemorrhoids

Other terms to know:
Colon (Bowel), Dietary Fiber

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