Among the most common gastroenterological symptom is constipation and it affects almost everyone, with 2 percent of the American population suffering from it. You can classify it as constipation if you already had three spontaneous bowel movements that happen weekly. Constipation is characterized with infrequent or hard stools. Normally, bowel movements are three times a day.

For other people, it is only twice in a week. But if you go longer than three days without a bowel movement, you will have hard stools. Constipation is common especially when you age. Almost one third of people over the age of 65 and half of those aged 80 suffer from constipation. When you lack physical activity, fibers and water, chances are you will be having constipation. This can be avoided if you follow the following tips:

1. Do not restrain if you feel the natural urge of a bowel movement.

2. A meal with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bran, oatmeal and dried fruits is advisable.

3. Drink plenty of water.

4. Remember to exercise regularly.

If you are already suffering from constipation, follow these tips to deal with it:

1. Take one tablespoon three times daily of psyllium (Metamucil) or methylcellulose (Fibercon) added in a glass of water.

2. Dr. David Lipschitz recommends buying 8 ounces each of flax, peeled sunflower seeds and sesame seeds and then mixing them together. Take a tablespoon three times daily alone or you can take it with fruits or cereals.

3. You can try some stool softeners like those that contain docusate sodium.

4. If none of these tips work for you, try a laxative (Miralax, Exlax, milk of magnesia, Glycolax, Senokot, Dulcolax or Correctol).