Harvard Women's Health Watch

Natural ways to relieve constipation

A few at-home tips can help you avoid the need for harsh laxatives.

We often make light of constipation, but it's no laughing matter. When you can't go to the bathroom for days on end, you feel bloated and miserable. Straining day after day can also lead to more serious problems, like hemorrhoids or even prolapse (bulging) of rectal tissue.

An estimated 40% to 60% of older adults regularly deal with constipation, although the aging process itself is not to blame. "It's what goes along with aging. It's things like less physical activity, which helps the bowels move more regularly. It's the medications many older adults take," explains Dr. Stanley Rosenberg, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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