Constipation and How To Treat It

Although almost everyone gets constipated at some point, it’s one of those things most people don’t like to talk about. Nevertheless constipation can be both painful and frustrating.

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Constipation and Causes

Constipation is when you have not had your bowels move regularly and when you do, it is often dry, hard, and difficult to pass. Regular bowel movements should be soft and easy to pass.

There are many different causes of constipation. Some reasons may include:

  • Not enough fibre or fluids
  • Not enough physical activity
  • A disruption of regular diet or routine
  • Holding stool in
  • Some medications
  • Higher stress levels
  • Certain Medical conditions
Did you know that dairy products can sometimes cause constipation? It may be a sign of lactose intolerance.

What Does it Look Like?

The texture of your stool depends on the time it spends in the colon. The longer it spends in the colon the harder it gets. This is because one of the functions of the colon is to absorb excess water. If stool stays in the colon a long time too much water is absorbed making the stool hard and difficult to pass.

Bowel habits vary from person-to-person, but the important thing is that your stools are soft and easy to pass.

The Bristol Stool Chart

One way to help you tell if you could have constipation is to use a tool like the Bristol Stool Chart below.

If your stool looks like the images in Types 1 or 2 (or Types 6 or 7), talk to your doctor or the Pharmacist at Walmart, who can discuss diet changes and possible treatments.

Type 1
Formed hard with pellets
Type 2
Formed hard, lumpy
Type 3
Formed semi-solid
Type 4
Formed soft
Type 5
Unformed loose or paste-like
Type 6
Unformed liquid
Type 7

How to Prevent It

Older people, especially those who are less active, tend to develop constipation more often than others, however, anyone can get constipated, including children.

But there are things you can do to help prevent it :


  • The best step is to be sure you are eating enough fibre
    • Fibre increases stool volume which results in better bowel function
    • Fibre-rich foods include fruits, vegetables and grains
  • Some experts believe these steps can help prevent constipation, too :
    • Drink water: aim for 6-8 glasses a day.
    • Exercise regularly: aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week

What if I Am Constipated?

Most cases can be resolved with dietary changes, exercise or mild laxatives (such as fibre, bulking agents like bran or psyllium, or stool softeners).

Other over-the-counter laxatives should be used only on the advice of your doctor or your Walmart pharmacist.

Your doctor may encourage you to:

  • Add more fibre or bulk in your diet
  • Take adequate time for moving your bowels
  • Not suppress the urge to have a bowel movement
  • Increase your physical activity

For stubborn constipation

For stubborn constipation in older children or adults, your doctor or your Walmart pharmacist may recommend :
  • A non-digestible sugar called lactulose
  • Specially formulated electrolyte solutions
  • Milk of Magnesia™
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG) 3350
  • Sennosides
  • Some prescription medications (for chronic constipation)

Remember, if you’re taking medications for any condition, check with the Pharmacist at Walmart to see if they could be the source of your constipation.

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart is knowledgeable about how to prevent or treat constipation. Just ask!

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

The pharmacist at Walmart does not endorse or recommend any sponsor or their products or services.
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This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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