When too much fluid gets absorbed into the intestines, constipation usually occurs due to the lack of water in one’s stool. The lack of sufficient fluids makes the stool dry. The condition under which a person experiences fewer than three bowel movements in a given week is known as constipation. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse which is a part of the National Institutes of Health has provided this diagnosis. The entire process of expelling stool becomes unpleasant to endure since constipated stools are often hard, small and dry.
Some people may pass stools multiple times a day while some may go only a couple of times every week, which means that everybody has a different system. Unless the symptoms last for weeks, treatment for constipation is seldom required.
Chronic constipation help can be attained by following a lifestyle and diet change, as follows:
- Exercise gently every day by taking short, brisk walks. Increasing the walking schedule for up to 20 minutes every day.
- Consume sufficient quantities of fluids like water, ginger water, cucumber water, fresh juices etc.
- Consume non-caffeinated fluids.
- Beverages that increase dehydration, like alcohol based drinks and straight alcohol should be avoided.
- A doctor can recommend the amount of fluid that needs to be consumed to fix constipation.
- Foods that contain fiber should be increased the daily diet.
- Consumption of vegetables and fruits should be increased.
- A good breakfast may consist of cereal or bran muffin that gives energy as well as fiber.
- A piece of fruit as a midafternoon snack also helps keep up energy levels and add fiber.
- A regular daily routine that helps designate bowel movements to a given time every day also helps. The time designated to focus on bowel movements should be relaxed, unhurried and stress-free.
- The feet should be supported with a small step stool to help flex the hips and place the pelvis in a squat position when sitting on the toilet, to help ease the bowel movement.
Laxatives are of various types:
- Bulk-forming laxatives can be taken every day, for example, Citrucel, Metamucil, and FiberCon. Other types of laxatives need to be timed effectively. These supplements help make the stool soft and also increase their size. They are safe for regular use and these bulk-forming laxatives can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb certain medicines. Their side effects include bloating, cramps and gas and require the patient to drink a lot of water while taking bulk laxatives.
- Saline laxatives pull extra water into the stool, for example, laxatives like Haley’s M-O or Milk of Magnesia.
- Lubricant laxatives coat the stool to make it slippery, making it easier to pass through the colon, for example, laxatives like Fleet and Zymenol.
- Osmotic laxatives like Miralax, Milk of Magnesia and Fleet Phospho-Soda coupled with non-absorbable sugars like lactulose and sorbitol help hold fluids in the intestine. Osmotic laxatives also draw fluids into the intestine from other blood vessels and tissue. The stool becomes softer and much easier to pass due to the presence of this extra fluid in your intestines. Again, plenty of water should be consumed while taking this laxative. Diabetics should not take these laxatives without a doctor’s consultation since they can cause electrolyte imbalances.
- Feen-a-Mint or Ex-Lax are stimulant laxatives that help speed up the movement of stool through the intestine and should be used sparingly. Stimulant laxatives should not be used for longer than 2 weeks without a doctor’s consultation since they decrease the sensation and tone in the large intestine and cause dependence on using laxatives when overused.
Chronic constipation help involves following the given methods that are proven to be effective without the use of laxatives:
Consuming Fiber can provide help with chronic constipation – It is possible to make the stools softer and bulkier, making it softer to pass through the tract by including more fiber in the diet. Till the optimum level of 20 – 35 grams is achieved, a gradual increase in the levels of fiber is recommended.
Some good sources of fiber include:
- Whole grains
- Dried fruits like apricots, almonds, prunes, and raisins
- Vegetables like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and carrots
- Fresh fruits, especially apples and bananas.
- Brown rice
- Fruits with high water amounts like watermelon
- Fortified breads
Some foods can make constipation worse and should be avoided are: Foods that are low in fiber
- Foods high in fat
- Processed foods
- Dairy products
Drinking enough water to prevent constipation and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle by moving regularly and exercising a couple of times a week helps keep the bowels active and in motion.
These methods usually work well to help with chronic constipation. In case they don’t, one can add synthetic or processed fiber like Metamucil, Perdiem, or Citrucel to the regular diet or follow a rectal glycerin suppository plan.