The first rule of laxatives is that you usually don’t need them. The best remedy for constipation is drinking more fluids, adding fiber to your diet, and getting more exercise. It’s also important to know that going a day without a bowel movement does not mean you have constipation. Sure, some people have three bowel movements a day, but others only have three a week. Normal is relative, especially in this case.
Constipation is one of the most frequent complaints doctors hear. It’s estimated that constipation results in at least 2.5 million doctor visits annually in the United States and Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars on laxatives every year. Constipation occurs when stool passes too slowly through your digestive tract. This allows too much water to be absorbed, making the stool harder, drier, and more difficult to pass.
Although everyone’s digestive system is a little different, if you have not had a bowel movement in four days, you may be constipated and a laxative could help. If you have tried adding fiber, drinking more fluids, and increasing your activity, and you are still constipated, there are many constipation remedies that are available over-the-counter. These include laxatives, stool softeners, lubricants, and tap water enemas.
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