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Updated: 6/11 5:25 pm

Constipation is a medical term for difficult, infrequent passage of stools. The frequency of bowel movements normally varies among people from a few times a day to several times a week. Generally, you are considered constipated if three or more days pass without a bowel movement. Keep in mind, however, that what's normal for others is not necessarily normal for you. Constipation is sometimes a symptom of diseases of the bowel or other conditions. More commonly, however, it is caused by diet, stress, or certain medications. It's also possible to become constipated by overusing laxatives. Because frequent use of laxatives may lead to dependency, it is best not to use them as a first course of action. Constipation can usually be treated by increasing dietary fiber, eating fruits and vegetables, increasing fluid intake, and exercising regularly. Straining can lead to complications such as hemorrhoids, so if symptoms persist for more than two or three weeks, it is recommended that you see your doctor. For more information about constipation, please contact a health care provider.

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