Being constipated is usually not a serious condition to worry about, but nonetheless, it can put a huge damper on your day. Fortunately, there are some easy at-home remedies to relieve your discomfort. In addition, there are steps you can take to help avoid feeling constipated again in the future.
For Fast Relief
When you’re constipated, you’re probably most concerned with getting relief as quickly as possible. Fortunately, there are some great options for getting fast relief for constipation at home, including:
- Saline laxatives: Taking a saline laxative like milk of magnesia will act like a sponge to bring water into the colon and help your stools pass more easily.
- Stool softeners: These help prevent dehydration and moisten stools so they pass easier.
- Lubricants: Mineral oil and Fleet are two examples of lubricants that will make it easier for your stools to pass through the colon.
- Stimulants: Stimulants trigger rhythmic contractions in the intestines to help jump start a bowel movement. Try brands like Correctol, Dulcolax or Senokot.
- Fiber supplements: This is one of the safest options for constipation relief, but they must be taken with lots of water. Brands include FiberCon, Citrucel and Metamucil.
- Osmotics: These encourage fluids to move through the colon. Brands include Miralax and Cephulac.
- Enemas: These should be reserved for only severe cases of constipation. Those unfamiliar with at-home enemas should have a doctor perform this procedure.
It’s important to note that children and infants should not receive any of the at-home remedies if they are suffering from constipation. Instead, they should drink fruit juice or eat high-fiber foods. If this does not help the constipation clear up after a day or two, parents should consult a doctor about what to try next.
For Long-Term Relief
If you are prone to constipation, then making a few changes in your lifestyle are the best at-home remedies for long-term relief from this condition. Here are a few of the best ways to reduce the numbers of episodes of constipation you experience:
- High-fiber diet: Getting more fiber in your diet is a good way to help treat chronic constipation. Make sure you are consuming a minimum of 20 to 35 grams of fiber every day. This helps your body form soft, bulky stools that are easier to pass. Some of the best high-fiber foods include fresh fruits and veggies, beans and whole grains. At the same time, you may want to avoid consuming too many low-fiber foods, such as meat, cheese and processed foods.
- Regular exercise: Physical activity is critical to preventing constipation since it helps stimulate intestinal activity. This is often a problem among older or obese individuals who are mostly inactive. Exercising regularly is your best option, but if you can’t go for a run or go to the gym then at least try to get a brisk walk in once a day.
- Fluids: It’s important to get plenty of fluids in your diet, especially water. This helps to soften your stools and make them easier to pass.
- Unrushed bowel movements: Don’t try to rush things when you need to visit the bathroom. Make sure you have enough time to have a bowel movement without having to strain or force things along. It’s also good to respond to your body when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement. Ignoring that urge and waiting too long to visit the bathroom could potentially contribute to constipation.
Treating The Underlying Cause
If you suffer from severe or chronic constipation, it’s likely that it’s a symptom of an underlying cause that needs to be treated. In some cases, the cause could be something as harmless as a lack of fiber in your diet or taking a certain medication. However, it’s important to get severe or chronic constipation checked out by a doctor because one of the following more serious conditions could be the underlying cause of your symptoms:
- Problems with the rectum or colon
- Problems with intestinal function
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Hormonal disturbances
- Anal fissures or hemorrhoids
- Spasm of the sphincter muscle
- Spinal cord injuries
- Parkinson’s disease
- Thyroid disease
Treating any underlying causes of your constipation could be the key to getting rid of this symptom. A sign that one of these causes could be the reason for your constipation is when making lifestyle changes (eating plenty of fiber, exercising regularly, etc.) do not seem to make a significant difference in the severity or frequency of your episodes of constipation.
The good news is that constipation is, for the most part, very easy to treat. In some cases, the home treatments for fast relief are effective within just a few hours. Meanwhile, making changes in your diet and exercise habits could significantly reduce the frequency of your constipation episodes. However, if you feel that something else may be causing this condition or if at-home remedies are not working, see a doctor about your constipation.