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Health Tip: Staying Regular

How to avoid constipation

(HealthDay News) -- About 80 percent of people suffer from constipation at some time during their lives, and brief periods of constipation are normal. The assumption that everyone should have a bowel movement at least once each day has led to overuse and abuse of laxatives, some experts say.

The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons says the vast majority of patients with constipation can be successfully treated by adding high fiber foods like bran, shredded wheat, whole grain breads and certain fruits and vegetables to the diet, along with increased fluids.

Fiber supplements containing indigestible vegetable fiber, such as bran, are often recommended and may provide many benefits in addition to relief of constipation. They may help to lower blood cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of developing colon polyps and cancer, and help prevent hemorrhoids.

Designating a specific time each day to have a bowel movement may be helpful to some patients. In some cases, bio-feedback may help to retrain poorly functioning anal sphincter muscles. Only in rare circumstances are surgical procedures necessary to treat constipation, the society says.

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