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When you have chronic constipation, nutrition is an important part of your treatment. Our Digestive Health Center at Stanford Health Care is one of just a few programs in the country with a dedicated registered dietitian. We offer highly specialized nutrition therapies and personalize them to meet your food preferences.
As part of our comprehensive approach to care, your treatment may also include medication or other therapies based on your needs.
Your treatment may include:
Biofeedback: Measuring muscle tension in your rectum and using this information to teach you techniques for relaxing and tightening muscles throughout your pelvis so you can pass stool more easily
Pain management: To relieve the pain associated with chronic constipation, you may need to see a pain management specialist
Fiber supplements: If you are not getting enough fiber from the foods you eat, you may need a fiber supplement to add bulk to your stool (bulk forming laxative). This can help it pass through your intestines faster.
Laxatives: Laxatives work in different ways. Some trigger muscle contractions in your small intestines to help advance stool toward your rectum, while others add moisture to your stool allowing for easier bowel movements. Your doctor will let you know which one is right for you.
Lifestyle changes: Simple changes such as reducing stress, eliminating tobacco use, and allowing ample time for bowel movements can help you pass stool more easily.
Medical nutrition therapy: Working with experts who specialize in gastrointestinal disorders from Nutrition Services, we help you incorporate more fiber into your diet and learn how to avoid foods that can aggravate your symptoms. Your treatment may include eating small meals and more vegetables.
Stool softeners: Taking medications that add moisture to your stool can allow it to pass through your colon with ease. Other medications, such as stool softeners, help you have bowel movements without so much straining.
Surgery: You may need surgery if other forms of treatment are not successful. This is especially true for people whose constipation is due to structural issues in the small intestines, such as a bulge in the front wall of your rectum (rectocele).