​Constipation refers to bowel not emptying normally.  Lifestyle may cause constipation. Constipation seldom requires hospital treatment and you can relieve the condition at home.

Usually, a healthy person empties their bowel every 8–72 hours. If you don’t need to go at least three times a week or you need to strain most times because your stools are too hard, you are considered constipated.

The most common reasons for constipation include the following:

  • lack of exercise
  • insufficient intake of fluids and fibre
  • certain medicines and certain diseases
  • functional disorders of the bowel


​The main treatment in constipation is a change of lifestyle and diet. Medication and other procedures are always a secondary form of treatment. Eating enough fibre and drinking enough fluids is the key. Regular exercise and regular defecation promote the healthy bowel movement and prevent constipation.

Sudden, temporary constipation can be relieved by taking laxatives for a few days to speed up bowel movement. Longer-term constipation is best treated with medication that adds bulk to the stool. If your constipation is very persistent, you may take medication that increases the amount of liquid in the large intestine; this, however, is for temporary use only.  Pharmacy staff will help you select the right product, if necessary. Follow the product instructions for use carefully.

When should you seek medical advice?

​You should seek medical advice, if

  • ​you have constipation and blood in your stools, you are constantly tired, lose weight or have strange abdominal pain. 
  • your symptoms include abdominal pain or pain when passing stools. 
  • constipation persists despite self-care and affects your daily life. 
  • ​bowel movement, which has been regular for years, becomes irregular in a couple of weeks.

More information

The producers of the instruction

​​​​​Emergency care professionals have produced the instruction in collaboration with Terveyskirjasto.​


Updated  22.4.2021