Home Pharmacy (cont.)
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People normally have bowel movements once a day, more than once a day, or only every few days. So constipation for one person may not be a concern to another person. Constipation can be defined as hard feces that make it difficult to have a bowel movement. Abdominal pain and cramping may be associated symptoms.
Adequate hydration and increased roughage in the diet (leafy vegetables, fiber, whole grains, bran) are the mainstays of preventing constipation and are the first line treatment should constipation occur.
OTC medications to relieve constipation include glycerin suppositories as well as medications that help bulk-up and lubricate the stool. Bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax), calcium docusate (Colace, Surfak), and senna (Ex-lax, Senokot) are the most commonly available medicine. Laxative dependence is a problem that may occur with laxative use; use of these drugs continually over one week indicates the individual should seek medical advice.
Constipation may be a symptom of a more serious medical condition, especially if it is associated with chronic abdominal pain, bloating, fever, or bleeding from the rectum, and it is appropriate to seek medical care when these symptoms are present.
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