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Almost everyone experiences bouts of constipation every once in a while. When days go by without a bowel movement, stool gets hard and dry. Elimination is painful, and a bloated feeling often accompanies the problem.

Diet is usually the culprit. Not getting enough fiber and not drinking enough water are the main contributors to temporary constipation. Some people are fine just waiting it out until their digestion gets back to normal, and some turn to over-the-counter laxatives for help.

Problems can arise for those who have chronic constipation and begin to rely on regular doses of those laxatives. As with any type of over the counter medication, extended use may not be recommended. Fiber supplements like Metamucil are gentle on the body, while stimulant laxatives like Ex-Lax should be used to resolve a short-term bout with constipation. It’s important to read the label and understand the proper way to use the different types of laxatives.

The best way to avoid chronic constipation is through a healthy diet and regular exercise. Certain medications, medical conditions and foods can contribute to the problem.

While constipation is most often a temporary condition, it is important to pay attention to an ongoing change to normal bowel habits. The constant urge to go, long-term diarrhea, constipation or blood in the stool can indicate colorectal cancer, and you should talk to your doctor about the problem immediately.

Among all cancers, colon cancer is the second deadliest in the United States. However, it is preventable and with regular screening can be detected early, when it is 90 percent curable. To find a screening center near you, click here.

posted on October 6, 2011 in news