Drink more fluids, eat more high-fiber foods, and get regular exercise. Over-the-counter stool softeners or laxatives can also help.

When to seek immediate medical care

See a doctor immediately if:

  • Severe, persistent abdominal pain and bloating occurs
  • Unable to pass stool

When to make a doctor's appointment

Make an appointment to see a doctor if:

  • Fewer than three bowel movements in a week
  • Continually straining to pass stool
  • Bleeding from rectum