Constipation in Teens: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Constipation means you have a hard time passing stools (bowel movements). People pass stools anywhere from 3 times a day to once every 3 days. What is normal for you may be different. Constipation may occur with pain in the rectum and cramping. The pain may get worse when you try to pass stools. Sometimes there are small amounts of bright red blood on toilet paper or the surface of stools due to enlarged veins near the rectum (hemorrhoids).

A few changes in your diet and lifestyle may help you avoid continuing constipation. Your doctor may also prescribe medicine to help loosen your stool.

Some medicines (such as pain medicines or antidepressants) can cause constipation. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. Your doctor may want to make a medicine change to ease your symptoms.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Include high-fibre foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, in your diet each day.
  • Get plenty of exercise every day. Go for a walk or jog, ride your bike, or play sports with friends.
  • Take a fibre supplement, such as Benefibre or Metamucil, every day. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. A daily routine may help. Take your time having your bowel movement.
  • Support your feet with a small step stool when you sit on the toilet. This helps flex your hips and places your pelvis in a squatting position.
  • Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter laxative to relieve your constipation. Examples are Milk of Magnesia and RestoraLax. Read and follow all instructions on the label, and do not use laxatives on a long-term basis.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your stools are black and tar-like or have streaks of blood.
  • You have new belly pain, or your belly pain gets worse.
  • You are vomiting.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your constipation does not improve or gets worse.
  • You have other changes in your bowel habits, such as the size or shape of your stools.
  • You have any leaking of your stool.
  • You think a medicine you take is causing your constipation.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 27, 2016