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Treatment Gastroenterology


Treatment for constipation depends on the cause, severity and duration. However, in most cases, dietary and lifestyle changes will help relieve symptoms and prevent the condition altogether. A well-balanced diet that includes fiber-rich foods, such as unprocessed bran, whole-grain bread and fresh fruits and vegetables, is recommended. Ideally, you should consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day. In addition, drinking plenty of fluids and exercising regularly helps stimulate intestinal activity.

Although most people who are mildly constipated do not need laxatives and an overuse of laxatives can actually cause constipation, they may be recommended for those who are still suffering from the condition even after making diet and lifestyle changes. Your doctor is best qualified to determine when a laxative is needed and which type.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

Recommended reading


Constipation happens when fecal material (stool) moves through the large bowel (colon) too slowly. Learn more about causes and treatments for constipation.

Fiber Supplements

A diet high in fiber has about 25 grams per day. The information here will help you understand how to get that amount of fiber in your diet with supplements.

Increasing Fiber Intake

A high-fiber diet reduces the risk of developing various diseases and is important for the health of the digestive system and lowering cholesterol. Learn more.

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