Most of us experience occasional constipations that comes and goes on its own. Although most constipations are transient and go away without problems, they are a distressing experience anyway that may also be a sign of an important underlying problem requiring medical attention.
Sedentary lifestyle and dehydration combined with the consumption of fatty and low-fiber foods are the common causes of constipation. In this article, we will introduce you to some of the most effective home remedies and treatments of constipation. Here is what you will read next:
What is the medical definition of constipation?
having the following conditions can be considered as the beginning of constipation:
- Defecation or discharge of feces less than three times a week.
- Having fewer than three bowel movements in a week
- Difficult defecation
- Stiff stools
When should you see a doctor?
If you experience any of the following conditions beside constipation, it is wise to see your doctor as soon as possible:
- Seeing blood in the stool
- Losing weight
- Fatigue and weakness
- Having fever
- Recurrent, intermittent constipation lasting two to three weeks each time
- Having a history of gastrointestinal cancersin the family
- No bowel gas excretion
How to prevent the recurrence of constipation
In order to have a healthy digestive system and to help your bowel to act normally, consider following these tips:
- Have a high-fiber diet. You can find lots of fiber in any kind of fruits and vegetables.
- Having enough physical activity every day will help your bowel to work normally.
- Drink adequate water and any type of liquid except those which make constipation worse (see below).
- Avoid stresses and try to rest and relax as much as you can.
- Avoid some foods and medication that will cause constipation.
Home remedies to get rid of constipation
The following are the list of things you can do at home to get rid of constipation or prevent it from happening again:
- Include fiber in your daily meals
- Limit the consumption of fast foods and fatty meals
- Drink enough water
- Limit caffeine intake
- Use fiber supplements
- Use herbal decoctions
- Be physically active
- Consume olive oil
- Consume laxatives
- Choose a specific time and place to defecate
- Use of osmotic
- Daily consumption of dried fruits
Include fiber in your daily meals:
Try to have any or all of the following in each of your meals:
- Oat bread
- Fresh fruits
- Edible seeds
- Wheat germ and clover
These substances absorb water in the gastrointestinal tract and cause motility of the intestines which prevents the formation of hard stools.
Limit the consumption of fast and fatty foods:
Diets that include fast foods, prepared and processed foods put high amounts of hardly-digestible substances such as fat and salt into your digestive tract and slow down the bowel movements. The amount of fiber in these foods is small. Try to reduce the frequency of consuming these types of foods.
Drink enough water:
When your body is dehydrated, more water is reabsorbed from your digestive tract and your stools become dry and hard. Therefore, drinking six to eight glasses of healthy water is necessary for adults to have normal bowel function. Drinking a glass of warm water stimulates bowel movements.
Drinking tea, soft drinks, carbonated water, coffee, alcohol, industrial juices will not provide the body with the water it needs and they will not substitute water! Tea and coffee will even cause hard and dry stools as they slow down the bowel movements.
Limit the caffeine intake:
Black tea, coffee and cocoa are high in caffeine, which increases the excretion of body fluids through urine. Consumption of these drinks will make the body to become dehydrated. In this situation, the body will start to reabsorb water from the intestines to compensate for dehydration.
Use fiber supplements:
You can find fibrous supplements in pharmacies today. These compounds absorb water when they enter the intestines and make the intestines move smoothly. This water absorbing capability of these medications prevent excretion of water from intestine and the formation of dry stool.
Psyllium is one of these compounds. Psyllium powder is a fiber that is available in pharmacies with different flavors. Pour a sachet of psyllium powder in a glass full of natural juice or warm water or a bowl of yogurt and eat it before breakfast.
The other two common compounds of fiber supplements are:
- Calcium polycarbophil like Fibercon
- Methylcellulose like Citrucel
You can use Senna leaf decoction to improve constipation at home. This method is forbidden in infants, pregnant women and people who may have intestinal obstruction.
How to prepare Senna tea:
Chop about ten to fifteen senna leaves and put them in a kettle with four glasses of water and let the water boil. Then strain the contents of the kettle and drink a cup of it preferably warm with honey every morning for breakfast.
Be physically active:
Staying in a sitting or lying position for a long time slows down your bowel movements. Try to do housework that requires physical activity even on days when you are at home. Walk for half an hour a day if you can.
Consume olive oil:
Olive oil is very effective in improving constipation. Eat your salad with a spoonful of olive oil. You can even pour a teaspoon of pure olive oil into a cup of hot water, stir it and then drink every morning for breakfast.
If you have heart diseases, consult your doctor about this. Try to cook your food with olive or sesame oil and minimize the consumption of butter and high saturated oils.
There are a variety of stool relaxants available in pharmacies. Bisacodyl is a common drug that is available in pill and suppository form. Note that continuous use of these drugs is prohibited, especially in large quantities.
Try not to use drugs as your first option for treating your constipation.
Choose a specific time and place to defecate:
Remember that your bowels get used to their own bowel movements habits! It means, if you sit on the toilet bowl at a certain time each day to defecate, your bowels will gradually get used to emptying themselves at that particular time.
Attempts to stimulate the movements of the large intestine, which can be done by inserting finger or suppository into anus are called enema. Some medications that can be found as suppository form and will accelerate bowel movements are:
- Sodium phosphate (fleet)
- Soaps (soapsuds) are also used for enema.
If you have any liver, kidney or heart disease, consult your doctor before using these substances.
Use of osmotic:
Osmotic substances are water-absorbing products that will decrease intestine water absorbing capability and therefore will stimulate bowel movements. However, it should be reemphasized here that in case of having underlying heart, liver, kidneyand any other chronic diseases, be sure to consult your doctor before using these substances. Among the famous osmotic substances, the following can be mentioned:
- Polyethylene glycol like MiraLAX. Prohibited without prescription.
- Magnesium citrate hydroxide
- Magnesium Hydroxide (Magnesia) or (Philips Milk)
Daily consumption of dried fruits such as figs and prunes:
Soak some prunes and dried figs in warm water and let it sit during the night. Next day morning, with an empty stomach, eat a cup of this mixture (including the water). If you are in hurry, you can also boil the mixture before consumption.