Having a hard time with your bowels? You are not alone. Constipation is one of the common gastrointestinal problems, affecting 20% of American population resulting in 6.3 million doctor visits each year. (1, 2)
NIDDK also declared that almost $725 million yearly are spent alone on laxatives. Surprising isn’t it?
Most of us look out a quick fixes that is the reason why laxatives are in high demand. But the reality is – these products actually do more harm than good.
But don’t worry, we have a good news for you – constipation is often preventable with natural home remedies that can improve bowel functioning.
Before unveiling the home remedies, first let me explain you about how constipation occurs, what caused constipation and others so that you can understand your problem well.
Understanding helps you to analyze which ingredient or solution works better. However, if you want to skip the detailed stuff, you can jump to home remedies section using the table below…
- 1 Why Constipation Occurs?
- 2 Different Types of Constipation
- 3 A Detailed Overview of Constipation Causes
- 4 How to Know If You Are Constipated or Not?
- 5 How to Cure Constipation?
- 6 Supplements that Relieve Constipation
- 7 Other Tips that Resolve Constipation
- 8 Foods To Avoid While Constipated
- 9 How Constipation Affects Our Body?
- 10 Can Constipation Lead to Other Serious Complications?
- 11 When Should A Person Reach Out for Doctor?
- 12 Conclusion
Why Constipation Occurs?
When we consume food, our digestive system breaks it down to help our body absorb all the essential nutrients and water from it.
But our digestive system cannot break all the food we have eaten. So the food that is not digested and food leftovers after absorbing the nutrients form into a stool (poop).
Now, the intestine muscles push the stool through colon and out of the rectum. This process is natural and common.
But when the colon muscles are not contracting properly then the stool stays in it for a longer period of time. During this time, the colon absorbs the water from the feces making it hard and dry. Thus defecation becomes painful and less. (3)
As per National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a person is considered constipated if he/she has less than 3 bowel movement in a week or hard and small movements that are painful and difficult to pass. (4)
Different Types of Constipation
Constipation is categorized into two different types – organic and functional constipation.
Organic Constipation occurs due to abnormalities in the anal or colon segments which include anal stenosis, bowel obstruction, anal atresia, anal fissures, spinal cord disorders and many others. (5)
A medical intervention is required for this type of constipation.
Functional Constipation occurs due to diet habits, lack of exercise, food allergies, dehydration, high stress levels, improper bowel style and lifestyle.
Functional constipation is the most common one which can be treated with home remedies, dietary changes, lifestyles and drinking plenty of water.
A Detailed Overview of Constipation Causes
When you are suffering from constipation, there can be several reasons resulting it which often take place in GI tract. Here are several factors that might be the reason for constipation. (6)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome: If you have IBS symptoms then it can often attribute to persistent constipation along with other symptoms.
- Poor Diet: Food that is rich in refined carbohydrates, alcohol, sugar, synthetic additives and unhealthy fats makes it hard to produce normal bowel movements.
- Stress: A rise in stress levels leads to hormone and neurotransmitter production which can directly influence overall digestive functioning, muscle tension and inflammation.
- Magnesium Deficiency: Magnesium helps with normal muscle functioning. Low levels of magnesium can lead to muscle tension and worsen emotional stress symptoms.
- Imbalance in Intestinal Flora: A healthy GI tract contains healthy bacteria which help to regulate bowel functioning.
- Certain Medications: Few medications like calcium, iron supplements, narcotics, anticonvulsants, antacids, antidepressants and anticholinergics can lead to constipation.
- Thyroid or Hormonal Problems: Eating disorders, PMS, diabetes, thyroid disorders and menopause can contribute to constipation. Other diseases which can contribute to spinal injuries, neurological issues and Parkinson’s disease.
- Lack of Physical Activity: Exercising boosts blood flow, strengthens muscles within digestive tract and reduces stress levels. All these factors can help with easing constipation.
- Age: Sometimes, people in old age loose interest in eating food, which leads to lack of fiber and calories that therefore affects digestion process. (7)
- Bad Bathroom Habits: Sitting in an uncomfortable position on the toilet, rushing the time in bathroom can often lead to constipation.
- Poor Sleep: Improper lifestyle, jet lag and travelling can lead to poor sleep which can have direct impact on our digestive system which can often lead to constipation.
How to Know If You Are Constipated or Not?
Mostly, a person can simply understand when he is suffering from constipation. However, we would like to explain the symptoms just in case if you are not sure. You can analyze whether you are constipated or not if you are experiencing the following…
- Fewer than 3 bowel movement in a week
- Hard, dry and possible lumpy stools
- Painful and difficult bowel movements
- You have to put extra pressure to push the stools out
- Feeling of unemptied bowels after passing the stool
How to Cure Constipation?
Instead of just depending on commercial laxatives, you can use many home remedies to cure constipation. However, if you are not able to resolve the problem after trying home remedies then a medical intervention is necessary.
DIY laxatives to Treat Constipation
Prunes are considered as an effective natural laxative which contains high amounts of fiber and sorbitol. (8)
Sorbitol is a natural carbohydrate which is not easily digested. It helps to soften the stool by drawing a lot of water from the intestines and bulking up the stool.
How to Use?
- Drink 8 oz of prune juice in the morning and another before going to bed.
- Alternatively, consume a lot of prunes instead of juice.
Note: Too much consumption of prune or sorbitol can lead to diarrhea, bloating and stomach gas.
The citric acid present in lemon improves your digestion process, helps to flush out toxins as well as undigested materials that have built up along the colon walls.
How to Use?
- Into a cup of warm water, add freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon.
- The best time to consume it is on an empty stomach in the morning.
Note: You can add honey to improve the taste of the solution. As per some studies, honey works as mild laxative. Instead of honey, you can also use salt because it contains magnesium which encourages contraction of bowel muscles and it also helps to flush out toxins from the small intestine.
3. Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is rich in high doses of potassium and magnesium which are effective in combating constipation.
Molasses works fairly quick moistening the hard stools by drawing water into the bowels. Being alkaline it allows the intestines to regulate digestion and form proper stools.
Blackstrap molasses is rich in
- Manganese – helpful in regulating nervous system
- Calcium – remove waste and other toxins from the colon
- Vitamin B6 – regulates nerves, blood sugar and brain functioning
- Iron – iron present in blackstrap molasses doesn’t lead to constipation
- Copper – prevents cancer causing free radicals
How to Use?
- Consume 1 – 2 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses by mixing it in warm water, organic apple cider vinegar, or juice.
- Follow this remedy for weeks at a time.
For babies with constipation and gas pain…
- Add 1 teaspoon of blackstrap molasses in 1 ounce of boiled water.
- Give them this solution 3 times in a day before their regular feedings.
Things to Notice: Make sure to use only organic blackstrap molasses to prevent sulfate consumption.
4. Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil contains laxative and antidiarrheal properties which are even proved by many researchers and studies. (11)
Flaxseed oil coats the intestine walls and stools which increases the bowel movements number you are having. You can boost its effectiveness by adding it to orange juice. Because oranges have a good number of fiber in them.
How to Use?
- Add 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil into a glass of orange juice.
- Consume it and wait for at least 5 hours to start its job.
- Drink as needed but avoid over-doing it.
5. Aloe Vera
The aloe vera has laxative properties due to the presence of anthraquinone glycosides. A group of 28 individuals were given aloe vera for treating chronic and normal constipation which has shown promising results (12)
It is always better to use pure aloe vera gel straight from the plant. However, if don’t have the plant at home then probably you can use commercial aloe vera juice.
How to Use?
- Add 2 tablespoons of pure aloe vera gel into a glass of water or juice.
- Consume it in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Alternatively, you can drink 1 cup of aloe vera juice.
- Repeat as necessary.
6. Baking Soda
The versatile baking soda also works for constipation and tummy aches. It pretty much works 95% of the time.
It re-alkalizes the stomach, neutralizes the acid, encourages the air to come out in one or other way and helps things to pass through the gut.
How to Use?
- Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1/4 cup of warm water.
- Drink the mixture quickly.
- Note: The quick you drink, the better it works to moving up the things.
- Repeat the process, if you don’t find any sign of bowel movement within 4 hours.
7. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is considered one of the effective home remedies for treating constipation. The salt draws water from the surroundings and soften the stool to make it easy for passing.
Magnesium present in salt promotes bowel muscles contraction which also helps the stools to pass easier.
How to Use?
- Dissolve 2 teaspoons of Epsom salt in a cup of water or any fruit juice.
- Drink it quickly.
- If you didn’t observe any sign of bowel movement within 4 hours, take one more dose.
- Repeat whenever required.
Things to Notice: Table salt can be helpful in moistening the stools however it doesn’t contain magnesium. So, Epsom salt is the most preferred one.
8. Dandelion Tea
Though dandelion is a terrible weed, it is one of the effective ways to treat constipation. The properties of dandelion make a gentle laxative which acts as detoxifier.
Dandelion tea is perfect for those who are suffering from constipation due to consumption of processed foods and inactiveness.
- Into a cut of hot water, add 1 – 2 teaspoons of dried dandelion leaves.
- Stir well and let it steep for 10 minutes.
- Drink 3 times in a day.
9. Castor Oil
Castor oil is a stimulant laxative. When it is consumed, it stimulates the small intestine to develop more bowel contractions. The increased motion will move the stool through the intestines so it can be excreted. (9)
Castor oil helps to maintain a healthy gut which inturn helps in treating constipation, leaky gut syndrome, and bloating, cramping, and possible symptoms of IBS.
Ricinoleic acid, an active ingredient in castor oil gets released in the intestine which helps in improving digestion, nutrient absorption and cleansing the system through constipation.
The small intestine becomes more efficient in fat absorption with better lymphatic drainage. The gut environment balances the good and bad bacteria ratio.
How to Use Castor Oil?
Before consuming castor oil, it is always important to check the oil preparation process on the label. Make sure to buy only organic which doesn’t contain any chemicals and preservatives. A proper dosage of castor oil is 15milliliters or 1/2 ounce or 3 teaspoons.
As it contains a strong taste and smell, you can add it to juices, water, or milk for better taste. The best time to take castor oil is before going to bed.
Castor oil typically takes 2 – 3 hours to cause a bowel movement. Sometimes, it can even take up to 6 hours.
- People who are pregnant should not take castor oil because it may induce labor. It can also lead to fetus or fetal abnormalities.
- People suffering from rectal bleeding, strong or sudden stomach pain, appendicitis symptoms, vomiting and symptoms of blocked intestine should avoid castor oil.
- Castor oil should be taken for as a short term solution. Depending on it can lead to severe consequences.
- Few side effects of castor oil include little potassium in the body, muscle weakness, bowel swelling, dehydration, and diarrhea.
- Castor oil should not be given to children under the age of 6 years. If the child is of age between 6 and 10 then it is better to consult a pediatrician before giving it to the child.
10. Lubricant Oils
Just like castor oil, several other oils can also be used to treat constipation. Several oils that are helpful include almond oil, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil. (10)
Oils lubricate the GI tract and make it easy for the stools to pass. Oils also contain antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and omega-3. They are also efficient in stimulating the gall bladder to release the bile which helps to breakdown fats in the food.
How to Use?
- Consume 1 – 2 teaspoons of any oil mentioned above.
- The best time to take it is on an empty stomach.
- You can also add it to smoothies, juice, salads, coffee and water if you cannot drink it alone.
- Repeat the consumption once or twice a day.
If you have sensitive stomach, it is better to avoid oil consumption on an empty stomach. Because it can causes slight stomach cramps and queasiness.
For constipation or gas pains in babies – add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil into their homemade formula.
Make sure to consume organic products to avoid genetically modified foods, monosodium glutamate and other chemicals from harming our body. Organic oils don’t contain pesticides, fillers, chemicals or other filler agents.
- Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- La Tourangelle, Roasted Almond Oil
Triphala powder is a combination of amla, haritaki and vibhitaki. It acts as a laxative by stimulating the release of bile and other secretions which are essential to boost bowel movements. (11)
It works as fantastic laxative, contains anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties.
How to Use?
- Add 1 tablespoon of Triphala powder to a glass of warm water.
- Mix well and drink it in one go.
- For taste, you can add a teaspoon of honey.
Note: Avoid drinking or eating anything after consuming tripaha. The best time to take it is before going to bed.
12. Cinnamon – Honey Laxative Tea
Honey is a natural laxative which helps to strengthen the digestive system and stimulate elimination of hard stools. (12)
How to Use?
- Boil a cup of water and add 1 inch each of ginger and cinnamon.
- Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from the flame.
- Let it cool down until lukewarm.
- Strain and add 1 tablespoon honey to it.
- Stir well and consume it.
- Repeat 3 – 4 times a day.
Raisins contain lots of fiber and they are a natural laxative. It adds bulk to the stool and helps to move the trapped stools. Adding raisins to your daily diet can prevent constipation problems in future.
How to Use?
- Soak a handful of raisins in water overnight.
- Discard the water and eat raisins on an empty stomach in the morning.
- Alternatively, you can eat few raisins daily after meals.
14. Chia Seeds
It works as an intestinal broom for your intestines and helps to move the trapped hard stools.
Chia seeds are proven to be an excellent digestive solution especially for people suffering from IBS realted constipation. Chia seeds also contain fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids which help to reduce inflammation.
How to Use?
- Soak 2 tablespoons of chia seeds in a cup of water.
- After 15 minutes, drink the complete solution.
- Repeat daily or whenever required.
- Viva Naturals – The FINEST Raw Organic Chia Seeds
- Anthony’s Organic, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO Chia Seeds
It contains mucilage properties which lubricate the intestinal tract and help to eliminate the hard stools without pain.
How to Use?
- Eat 1 cup of steamed or baked okra.
- Or chop okra and soak them in a cup of water overnight. Drink it in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Repeat daily.
16. Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables that help to provide relief from constipation are papaya, oranges, figs, grapes, Oregon grape, pears, spinach, cabbage and guava.
All these foods are rich in fiber, water and other essential properties that aid in digestion and treat constipation.
How to Use?
- You can eat a cup of any fruit or vegetable (mentioned above) chunks per day.
- Or else, you can juice them or add to salads or desserts.
17. Coriander Seeds
Coriander seeds are rich in dietary fiber that helps bulk up stools by absorbing water through the digestive system and promotes the complete evacuation of bowels. 100 g of coriander seeds contain 41.9 g fiber.
How to Use?
- Boil water and add 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds.
- Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let it steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain and drink it.
- Repeat 2 times daily.
- Note: You can add coriander seeds or coriander powder in your recipes.
18. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds act as natural laxative which helps to increase the bowel movement. It helps to loosen the hard stools by drawing water from the intestines.
Fennels are proven to improve the digestion and correct many digestive disorders which definitely improve constipation.
How to Use?
- Before going to bed, mix ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds into a glass of warm water.
- Let it stand overnight and drink it in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Do this every night.
Supplements that Relieve Constipation
Fiber is one of the effective ways in improving digestive health and treat constipation. Fiber scrubs off the food and other particles from the intestine walls while absorbing water for itself. Fiber is always misguided as bulk forming, however it gathers the stuff as it passes through the tunnels along the intestines to anus. (13)
Fiber rich foods include – tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, oatmeal, lentils, fruits, cereals, barley, and leafy green vegetables. You can consume fiber rich foods by chopping them into chunks, juices, or add them to soups, salad or stew.
Recommended Fiber Intake: 25 – 30 grams of high fiber per day
Usually, fibers are divided into two groups – soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibers bulk up the stools and reduce transit time. While soluble absorb water from the intestines and soften the stool.
A person suffering from constipation should always prefer soluble fibers instead of insoluble fibers. Make sure to begin with small amounts of fiber to avoid abdominal cramps and flatulence which are some of the common symptoms of high fiber intake.
Alternatively, you can consume fiber supplements like psyllium and apple fiber to balance your daily fiber intake. While taking high fiber, make sure to consume enough water to keep the stools soft and moving.
Dosage: For adults and children over 12 years of age – Add 1 teaspoon of it to 8 ounces of liquid and drink once in a day.
Dosage: Consume 1 – 2 teaspoons 2 times in a day.
Note: Too high fiber intake can actually lead to constipation, painful gas, uncomfortable bloating. (14) It can also cause hemorrhoids, straining, tears along the walls of intestinal tract and anal lacerations (bleeding). So, make sure to eat only recommended amounts of fiber to avoid consequences.
Probiotics play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system and combating constipation. (15, 16) The good bacteria is responsible for maintaining the stools lose and retaining the moisture in the intestines. When the stools lack good bacteria then they turn into rock hard.
Many times, good bacteria get wiped out due to certain things that are meant to kill bad bacteria. Here are the examples: antibiotics, surgeries, diarrhea, too much fiber, protein deficiency and others.
Commercial yogurts are not good substitutes as they go through high-heat sterilized process while manufacturing. During this process, the active bacteria usually die.
Probiotics are also a safe remedy for pregnant women. Consume at least 1 – 2 cups of probiotics per day. Probiotics include yogurt, kerfir, komucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and others.
Alternatively, you can take probiotic supplements for the same. For proper dosage consult your doctor or look out for the specifications on the label.
- Digestive Advantage Probiotics-Intensive Bowel Support Probiotic
- Nutrition Essentials #1 Rated Probiotic
- Phillips’ Colon Health Daily Probiotic Supplement
Magnesium is an important electrolyte which plays a vital role in heart rhythm, bowels, immune system and muscles. Magnesium supplements relax the intestine muscles and draw water back into the colon.
Dosage: Take 300 – 400 milligrams of magnesium supplement at night with some water. You can expect a bowel movement by the morning.
- More amounts of magnesium intake than recommended can cause serious disruptions in the body.
- Magnesium supplements can interfere with antibiotics, diuretics and chemo drugs.
- People with kidney problems should avoid taking magnesium supplements. Make sure to avoid calcium while taking magnesium as it can have constipation effects.
4. Cod Liver Oil or Fish Oil
Cod liver oil is one of the traditional remedies to treat constipation. The essential omega-3 fatty acids present in these supplements helps in optimal digestive function which is necessary to treat constipation.
Dosage: Upon waking, consume 1 tablespoon of cod liver oil mixed in 8 ounces of water or fresh juice to stimulate bowel movements.
- Athelas Neutraceuticals Natural Triple Strength Cod Liver Oil
- AMRAP Nutrition Fermented Norwegian Cod Liver Oil
Other Tips that Resolve Constipation
1. Low-FODMAP Diet
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Examples of foods high in FODMAPs include cheese, maple syrup, and sweetened beverages.
A low-FODMAP diet represent decreased intake of above foods to relieve constipation especially if it occurs due to irritable bowel syndrome.
2. Avoid Dairy Products
Milk could cause constipation especially if you are intolerant to it. Milk reduces bowel movements and you need to stay away from it if you feel constipated. However, make sure to replace milk with other calcium-rich foods so you do not become deficient of this key mineral.
Though it may look simple, hydration helps in digestion and muscle functioning. When the body gets enough amount of water, the digestive system will process nutrients and move the wastage easily. Even the bowel muscles become more efficient and keep the things moving.
Consume 8 – 16 ounces of water every 2 hours. And the best time to drink is in the morning on an empty stomach. Generally, you should divide your body weight by half, and drink the same amount of water in ounces.
For example, you weigh 150 pounds then you consume 70 ounces of water. This can be increased based on your activity level.
In the morning, once you wake up, consume 2 glasses of water on an empty stomach. Make sure to take a gap of 20 – 30 minutes between breakfast and water. If you are not experiencing severe constipation then you should get bowel movements in 30 – 60 minutes.
While you are sleeping, the body functioning slows down, when we consume water, it stirs up the sleepy bowels. Though this method works absolutely great, consuming more amount of water than recommended throughout the day have other severe consequences.
Caffeine present in coffee acts as natural stimulant. Drinking 1 – 2 cups of coffee in the morning helps to stimulate bowel movements. Coffee is a natural diuretic which make you urinate frequently.
But make sure to avoid over consumption. If consumed in excess it can lead to constipation by dehydrating the body and drawing water from the stool.
5. Move your Body
In our lifestyle now-a-days, we are reserved to one place than being active. Though there isn’t any scientific evidence, moving your body helps the smooth muscle in the colon moving.
Remember that you have to wait at least for 1 hour to consume food after exercising. For occasional constipation, pelvic floor muscles, yoga, running and pilates are effective in encouraging the movement of wastes along the intestinal tract.
6. Establish Routine
Potty schedules are not just for puppies, they are even effective to provide relief from constipation. Regularizing the bathroom timing to regulate your bowel movements. Make some time of about 15 minutes for 2 – 3 times in a day. Even if nothing happens, don’t worry your body will slowly catch on.
7. Heed Natures Call
This is a preventive measure to ward off constipation. When your body signals then it is good listen and go to bathroom. If you hold stools for a longer period of time then the water from the stools will be absorbed by the colon leaving then dry and hard.
Though it sounds a bit awkward, squatting over the toilet helps to relieve constipation and stimulate your colon muscles. It is the natural position that our body understand that it’s time to poop.
While squatting, the puborectails muscles open to allow more complete defecating. Some experts believe that squatting helps to reduce constipation, anal fistuals, straining and hemorrhoids.
While sitting on toilet, try to place large books or stepping stools under each foot. Mimic the squatting position by propping the legs on them. For comfortable and natural squatting position, you can try using Squatty Potty.
Squatty potty comes in various heights, ranging from beginner-level squatter to a more experienced one. When not in use, it can be slided underneath the toilet seat. You can also gift the Squatty Potty for people who are too shy to purchase.
A study has conducted by The Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine has proven that blockage can be caused due to reduced Qi (vital energy) flow, excess heat or excess cold in the body.
Qi is influenced by two life forces – Ying & Yang. When these forces interrupt, it affects the health. You can consider massage or acupuncture to get back the natural flow of Qi. Make sure to consult a specialized therapy for proper results.
Foods To Avoid While Constipated
- Empty Calorie Foods: Foods that is rich in calories but poor in fiber or nutrients should be eliminated or reduced. These foods are common in Standard American Diet like cheese, chips, fast food, sweetened cereals, ice cream, processed meats, hot dogs and high sodium frozen foods.
- Alcohol: It increases urine production and lead to fluid loss which leads to dehydration. Alcohol is difficult for our body to digest which can make constipation worse. It is better to avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water.
- Oily/Fried Foods: Trans fats commonly present in deep fried foods slow down the transit time of stools through the intestines and clog up the digestion.
- Caffeine: Moderate consumption of caffeine can help with constipation. But however, if you consume caffeine is high amounts then worsen constipation.
- Pasteurized Dairy Products: People who are lactose intolerant can become constipated if they consume dairy products.
- Refined Flour: Refined flour doesn’t contain any fiber so it will lead to constipation or worsen the problem.
How Constipation Affects Our Body?
When you are constipated, few changes take place in our body. Let’s have a look at them…
- Bad Breath: Most of the people regularly constipated also experience bad breath. Because, as the toxins buildup within the colon, gasses rise up and come out through mouth. Unfortunately, one cannot realize of having bad breath until someone tells them.
- Skin Problems: Skin is the largest and detoxifying organ. It is also a reflection on your inner heath. Due to toxin build-up in the body caused due to constipation, an individual can experience acne, skin discoloration and other skin ailments.
- Colon Cancer: Suffering from constipation for a longer period of time can lead to cancer. The colon is designed to hold few pounds of stools. But when a person is constipated, the colon holds more stool, strains the inner membrane, ruptures the membranes and may lead to infections.
- Loss of Healthy Bacteria: Our intestines contain a lot of healthy bacteria which are helpful for immunity and vitamin production. However, when a person is constipated the balance of intestinal flora gets disturbed leaving the person more vulnerable to illness.
- It May Affect bladder Control: If the colon is strained then it can damage the pelvic floor muscles which are important for good bladder control. If bladder control is lost then it can cause leakage unexpectedly.
Can Constipation Lead to Other Serious Complications?
Many people don’t realize that constipation is a very serious problem. It make a person lethargic and uncomfortable. And sometimes it can lead to severe complications too.
If wasted food is left to decay in the colon then it can lead to complication mentioned below…
- Fecal Impaction
- Varicose Veins
- Hemorrhoids (Piles)
- Anal Tears and Fissures
- A Prolapsed Rectum
- Diverticular Disease
When Should A Person Reach Out for Doctor?
There are some serious or severe conditions when you have to reach out for a doctor instead of dealing with it at home. Here are few cases which need immediate medical attention…
- If you have sudden constipation with belly pain and you are not able to pass gas or stool.
- Blood in stools.
- Losing weight even if you are not dieting.
- Severe pain with bowel movements.
- If constipation lasts for more than 2 weeks.
- If you have pencil thin stools.
How Doctors Cure Constipation?
Most times the dietary home remedies are the only things required to get relief from constipation. However, there are some occasions where the problem is beyond diet such as when constipation is associated with bleeding via the anus, inability to pass flatus, and severe abdominal pain. These cases should be handled by doctor.
- Sometimes, home remedies have to be combined with medications for full resolution of the symptom.
- Furthermore, additional treatment for constipation to be recommended by your doctor is dependent on the cause of the constipation. There are certain investigative tools your doctor would order to detect the cause of the constipation.
- Your doctor would order for blood tests including complete blood count to detect a shortage of red blood cells in case you might have a hidden bleeding site in the intestines. The blood is also tested for certain chemicals including potassium, as imbalance in blood chemicals also causes constipation.
- Quite importantly, especially in cases where the constipation is prolonged, your doctor could order for imaging studies such as plain radiograph, Computed tomography (CT) scan, or barium studies of the abdomen. These techniques give a visual image of the intestines and other abdominal organs to see if there are any obstructive diseases causing the reduced bowel movements.
- An endoscopy is a test in which a long tube with a camera at the end is passed through the mouth or the anus to view the upper part or lower part of the gut respectively. In the case of constipation, your doctor would require a lower gut endoscopy.
What Medicines are prescribed to Treat Constipation?
- Your doctor would prescribe some drugs which might be best combined with home remedies. These drugs include bulk-forming agents such as methylcellulose and psyllium, emollient stool softeners such as docusate, prokinetics such as tegaserod which help to stimulate bowel peristalsis or movement waves, and osmotic agents such as sorbitol, polyethylene glycol, and lactulose. These medicines stimulate bowel movement by absorbing water into the intestine and causing its distension. All these drugs can be obtained without your doctor’s prescription.
- Magnesium citrate, magnesium sulphate, and magnesium hydroxide are among the drugs your doctor may prescribe. These drugs trigger bowel movements by absorbing water into the intestine and distending it.
- Mineral oil is also very effective for the treatment of constipation. Mineral oil lubricates the wall of the intestine making flow of stool easy.
- Some drugs that are prescribed to treat constipation which is caused due to opioids such as tramadol. Examples of these drugs include methylnaltexone, naloxegol, and alvimopan. These drugs cannot be obtained without a doctor’s prescription.
- If your doctor investigates and finds out that the constipation is caused due to obstruction in the bowel, tears in the anus, or haemorrhoids then surgical correction would be opted for. However, the home remedies would still be advocated before and after the surgery.
Constipation can be a very disturbing symptom and is said to occur if you pass less than 3 bowel movements in a week, strain a lot while you try to defecate, or pass hard lumpy stools.
Most times, home remedies in the form of dietary modifications are all you will require to correct the symptom, however sometimes, medicines and surgery may be needed based on the root cause.
It is therefore, best to employ home remedies as early as possible and visit the doctors if the symptom does not improve.
Try the remedies, dietary changes and other tips mentioned above to get back to normal life. If you have any concerns, write to us in the comments section. And please share your experience so that other readers can benefit from it.