Treatment plans for constipation are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause, minimizes the discomfort of constipation and softens the stool so it can be passed normally.

Many cases of constipation can be treated simply by increasing exercise and water intake and fiber in the diet. Fiber can be found in high amounts in whole grains and fruits and vegetables and in supplements. It is also important to empty the bowels as soon as the urge is felt and to establish a usual time to empty the bowels.

Medications that can help prevent or treat constipation include stool softeners. Over-the-counter laxatives are used by many people to treat constipation but overuse of laxatives can lead to laxative dependency. Both stool softeners and laxatives can also have side effects, such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea and should only be taken under the direction of a licensed physician or nurse practitioner.

Treatment of constipation that is caused by the life-threatening condition of intestinal obstruction, includes hospitalization, surgery, intravenous fluids and medications. Colorectal cancer and colon cancer is generally treated with surgery and possible chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Diverticulitis is treated with antibiotics and a liquid diet short a period of time. Some serious cases of diverticulitis may require hospitalization, intravenous antibiotics and surgery. Ileus is treated by hospitalization and removing all the air and contents of the stomach. This is done for a limited time with a long tube that is attached to suction and passed through the nose, down the esophagus into the stomach.