This is defined when the normal occurrence of passing a stool is taking longer than usual.
There can be many causes of this from taking certain medication, changes of diet or lifestyle and becoming more sedentary.
Simple non drug measures can be tried initially such as drinking more fluid and increasing the amount of fibre in the diet.
When should I see my doctor?
If you don't know what the cause is, nausea and vomiting and unexplained blood loss i.e not from haemorrhoids, then you should see your GP. If you are in any doubt please ask for advice.
What laxatives should I choose?
There are different types of laxatives:
Osmotic Laxatives - these do not get absorbed into the body and cause water to enter into the bowel making it easier to pass a stool, they can take two days to work and it relates to a product called Lactulose.
Stimulant Laxatives--these stimulate the colonic nerves to increase movement through the gut. An example of this is Dulcolax (bisacodyl). These should only be used short term as the body can get to rely on the stimulus. These drugs can be over-relied on by people with eating disorders. If you are concerned please ask for help. You normally take these at night as they take 8-12 hours to work.
Stool Softeners - these increase fluid penetration into the stool so the stools become softer and easier to pass. An example of this is Dulcoease (sodium docusate). These can take 12 to 72 hours to work.
Glycerol suppositories have a dual action and act a both as a softener and a stimulant and can work within 30 minutes.