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Home Remedies For Constipation
Published Jun 07, 2022 IN Column, HEALTHY LIVING,
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CONSTIPATION is an incredibly common problem that affects a great percentage of the world’s population.

People may experience constipation due to the foods they eat or avoid, their lifestyle choices, the medications they take, or the medical conditions they have. For many, the cause of their chronic constipation is unknown. This is known as chronic idiopathic constipation.

Constipation is characterized by the following symptoms:

Fewer than three bowel movements per week

Hard, dry, or lumpy stools difficulty or pain when passing stools a feeling that not all stool has passed.

Constipation can have a serious negative effect on quality of life, as well as on physical and mental health.

Common lifestyle causes of constipation include:

Eating foods low in fiber.

Not drinking enough water (dehydration).

Not getting enough exercise.

Changes in your regular routine, such as traveling or eating or going to bed at different times.

Eating large amounts of milk or cheese.


Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement.

Medications that can cause constipation include:

Strong pain medicines, like the narcotics con­taining codeine, oxycodone (Oxycontin®) and hydromorphone (Dilaudid®).

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibu­profen (Advil®, Motrin®) and naproxen (Aleve®).

Antidepressants, including the selective sero­tonin reuptake inhibitors (like fluoxetine [Pro­zac®]) or tricyclic antidepressants (like amitrip­tyline [Elavil®]).

Antacids containing calcium or aluminum, such as Tums®.

Iron pills.

Allergy medications, such as antihistamines (like diphenhydramine [Benadryl®]).

Certain blood pressure medicines, including calcium channel blockers (like verapamil [Ca­lan SR], diltiazem [Cardizem®] and nifedipine [Procardia®]) and beta-blockers (like atenolol [Tenormin®]).

Psychiatric medications, like clozapine (Clo­zaril®) and olanzapine (Zyprexa®).

Anticonvulsant/seizure medications, such as phenytoin and gabapentin.

Antinausea medications, like ondansetron (Zo­fran®)

There are many natural ways to help relieve constipation. People can do these in the comfort of their own homes, and most of them are supported by science.

Here are some natural home remedies to relieve constipation.

1. Drink more water

A person with constipation should try to drink more water. Being dehydrated regularly can make a person constipated. To prevent this, it is important to drink enough water and stay hydrated. When a person is constipated, they might find relief from drinking some carbonated (sparkling) water. This can help them rehydrate and get things moving again.

Bottom line: Dehydration can cause constipation, so be sure to drink enough water. Sparkling water may be even more effective at relieving constipa­tion.

2. Eat more fiber, especially soluble, non-fermentable fiber

To treat constipation, doctors often tell people to increase their dietary fiber intake.

This is because increasing fiber intake increases the bulk and consistency of bowel movements, making them easier to pass. It also helps them pass through the digestive system more quickly.

However, some studies have found that increas­ing fiber intake can actually make the problem worse. Others report that dietary fiber improves stool frequency but may not help with other symp­toms of constipation, such as stool consistency, pain, bloating, and gas.

This is because different types of dietary fiber have different effects on digestion. There are many different dietary fibers, but in general, they fall into two categories: insoluble fibers and soluble fibers.

Insoluble fibers — present in wheat bran, veg­etables, and whole grains — add bulk to stools and may help them pass more quickly and easily through the digestive system.

Soluble fibers — present in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and peas, as well as some fruits and vegetables — absorb water and form a gel-like paste, which softens the stools and improves its consistency.

Bottom line: Try eating more high fiber foods. Sup­plementing the diet with soluble non-fermentable fiber, such as psyllium, can also help.

3. Exercise more

Various research studies have reported that exer­cise could help improve the symptoms of constipa­tion. Studies have linked sedentary lifestyles with an increased risk of constipation. Because of this, some healthcare experts recommend increasing exercise to get the stool moving.

Other studies have reported that although exercise did not always improve the number of times people went to the bathroom, it did reduce some symptoms and improved people’s quality of life scores.

Try doing some gentle exercise — such as going for regular walks, swimming, cycling, or jogging — to see if it helps.

Bottom line: Exercise may reduce the symptoms of constipation in some people.

4. Eat probiotic foods or take probiotic supple­ments

Probiotics may help prevent chronic constipation. Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria that naturally occur in the gut. They include Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.

People can increase their levels by eating probiotic foods. Some people who have chronic constipation have an imbalance of bacteria in their gut. Consum­ing more probiotic foods could help improve this balance and prevent constipation.

A 2019 review found that taking probiotics for 2 weeks can help treat constipation, increasing stool frequency and stool consistency.

They could also help treat constipation by produc­ing short-chain fatty acids. These may improve gut movements, making it easier to pass stools.

Alternatively, try a probiotic supplement. Some studies have found that people started to feel the benefits of these supplements after 4 weeks.

Try taking probiotic supplements or eating more probiotic-rich foods to see if this helps with consti­pation. Prebiotic foods include yogurt.

Bottom line: Probiotics may help treat chronic constipation. Try eating probiotic foods or taking a supplement.

5. Try avoiding dairy

In people with an intolerance to it, eating dairy can cause constipation due to its effect on the gut’s movements. This includes children who are intoler­ant to cow’s milk protein and adults with lactose in­tolerance. If someone suspects a dairy intolerance, they can see their doctor for diagnosis. The doctor may recommend temporarily removing dairy from the diet, while increasing other calcium-rich foods, to see if it improves the symptoms.

Bottom line: Dairy or lactose intolerance may cause constipation in some people. In these people, removing dairy from the diet can help relieve symptoms.

6. Over-the-counter or prescription laxatives

A person can speak to a doctor or pharmacist about choosing an appropriate laxative. Different types have varying methods of action, but all are effective for constipation.

A doctor may recommend one of the following types:

Bulking agents: These are fiber-based laxatives that increase the water content of stool.

Stool softeners: These contain oils to soften stools and ease their passage through the gut.

Stimulant laxatives: These stimulate the nerves in the gut to increase bowel movements.

Osmotic laxatives: These soften stool by pull­ing water from the surrounding tissues into the digestive system. However, people should not take most of these laxatives on a regular basis without speaking to a doctor.

Bottom line: Laxatives are effective for relieving constipation. Speak to a doctor or pharmacist about the best ones to use.

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