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Constipation is a common symptom. It affects virtually everyone at some point in their life. Occasional constipation may result from changes in diet or from inactivity and will generally respond to simple lifestyle measures. However, constipation that is chronic (constant or long-lasting) or recurrent may indicate the need to see a doctor for evaluation and treatment.
Even though constipation is common, it is one of the most difficult gut symptoms to define. Patients, physicians, and physiologists (who study how the body works) have different views of the condition, due to the variable features of constipation.
Treatment will vary depending upon the subgroup assigned. For example, initial treatment of milder chronic constipation with normal transit generally involves a recommendation to increase fiber intake, but there is evidence that only a minority of patients with slow-transit constipation or defecation disorders benefit from fiber therapy.
It takes skills and strengths to deal with a challenging digestive condition like constipation. It means being a kind of active researcher, always looking for what does and does not help, hurt, and work best.