Constipation affects everyone at some point in time. Whether it’s a day where you didn’t drink enough water, a side effect of your pregnancy, or a side effect of taking medication, just about every patient in the world is familiar with what constipation feels like. For many patients, constipation is an infrequent problem that is simply mildly annoying. However, other patients may suffer from chronic constipation that can make bowel movements very difficult, severely affecting quality of life. While the best piece of advice for anyone experiencing painful or chronic constipation is to see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out other issues, there are home remedies and advice you can follow to help make bowel movements less of a burden. Read on to learn more about constipation and its causes, home remedies you can follow, and when to see a doctor.
More About Constipation
You likely are already familiar with constipation, but its textbook definition describes it as hard stool that is difficult to pass, which may or may not be accompanied by pain. There are many different causes of constipation, and each patient is different. For example, it’s a common side effect of pregnancy, as well as taking certain medications, like anticonvulsants and opioids. Most cases of constipation are pretty benign and pass quickly, but constipation that disrupts the digestive system on a regular basis or affects digestive health should be checked out by a doctor. If you suffer from constipation weekly or more than once a week, you should let your doctor know. There are more serious conditions associated with constipation, such as irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer. Constipation and diarrhea both are symptoms of many different GI problems, so it’s always worth mentioning.
Eat Prebiotic Foods and Other Tips
There are at least 12 things you can do on your own to help relieve constipation, even if it is frequent. Most likely, this advice would also be coming from your medical professional as well, before medication or other remedies are considered. To help beat constipation:
- Eat more fiber. A lack of fiber in the diet is the most common cause of constipation across the board. Eating both soluble fiber (bran barley, nuts, lentils, beans) and insoluble fiber (wheat bran, vegetables, whole grains) will help.
- Don’t be sedentary. Leading a sedentary lifestyle and not exercising is linked with bouts of chronic constipation. If you’re searching for constipation relief, be sure to exercise three times a week.
- Drink caffeinated coffee. There’s a link between caffeinated coffee (not necessarily all caffeinated drinks) and constipation relief, so start your day with a cup of Joe.
- Eat prebiotic foods. This includes foods such as garlic, onions, and bananas, which are usually pretty simple to include in the diet.
- Eat probiotic foods or take probiotics. This is another way to jump-start constipation relief - make sure you eat kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt.
- Drink plenty of water. Being dehydrated is also an extremely common cause of constipation.
- Take a glucomannan supplement. This is a type of soluble fiber - if you’re having trouble keeping your diet in check, this is an excellent way to manage constipation.
- Eat prunes. Eating prunes is associated with constipation relief.
- Avoid dairy. If you are even slightly lactose intolerant, too much dairy can contribute to constipation problems.
- Try magnesium. Consult your doc before you begin any supplements, but magnesium citrate directly cures constipation.
Other Ways to Relieve Constipation
If home remedies or lifestyle changes don’t work, your doctor may recommend other methods. Common constipation cures include over-the-counter medicines such as stool softeners, stimulant laxatives, and herbal laxatives. Medications such as stimulant laxatives could be harmful to the body if taking for the long term, but in the interim, can provide quick and painless constipation relief. Once your case of constipation has cleared, perhaps then it’s a good time to try dietary changes like adding in fiber and prunes. If you have a particularly bad case of constipation, you may need medication to arrest the symptoms. If you need more information on constipation or would like to be seen by a physician, contact Dr. Sameer Islam, MD today and request an appointment. Offering a complete line of GI, digestive care, and weight loss solutions, Dr. Islam can help you live your best, healthiest life.