Contipation, treatment and causes

What is constipation? 

Constipation occurs when bowel movements become less frequent and stools become difficult to pass. It happens most often due to changes in diet or routine, or due to inadequate intake of fiber. You should call your doctor if you have severe pain, blood in your stools, or constipation that lasts longer than three weeks.

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.

Symptoms of constipation:

Constipation is characterized by the following symptoms :

1. Fewer than three bowel movements per week.
2. Hard, dry, or lumpy stools.
3. Difficulty or pain when passing stools.
4. 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.

How to get rid of constipation:

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 6 natural home remedies to relieve constipation:

1.  Increase your water intake. 

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 (soda) water. This can help them rehydrate and get things moving again.

However, drinking carbonated drinks such as sugary soda is not a good idea, as these beverages can have harmful health effects and may make constipation worse.

Some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) find that carbonated drinks worsen their symptoms, so these individuals may wish to avoid sparkling water and other carbonated drinks.

2. Add on more fiber, recommended soluble, non-fermentable fiber

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 more than required 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.

In general, fibres 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.

Non-fermentable soluble fibers, such as psyllium, are the best choice for treating constipation.
Various brands of psyllium fiber are available online:

Its been found that psyllium to be 3.4 times more effective than insoluble wheat bran for constipation.

The effects of insoluble fiber as a treatment for constipation have yielded mixed results.

This is partly because insoluble fiber can make the problem worse in some people with a functional bowel problem, such as IBS or chronic idiopathic constipation.

Some fermentable soluble fibers may also be ineffective at treating constipation, as they are fermented by bacteria in the gut and lose their water-holding capacity.

To prevent constipation, people should aim to consume a mix of soluble and insoluble fibers. The total recommended fiber intake per day is 25 grams (g) for females and 38 g for males.

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

3. Workout is a must

Its been seen that exercise could help improve the symptoms of constipation.

Its been seen 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.

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

4. Have caffine:

Drinking coffee may help relieve constipation.
For some people, consuming coffee can increase the urge to go to the bathroom. This is because coffee stimulates the muscles in the digestive system.

Coffee may also contain small amounts of soluble fibers that help prevent constipation by improving the balance of gut bacteria.

Please NOTE:  The bowel-stimulating qualities of caffeine may be stronger in people with IBS. It could also make digestive symptoms worse.

5. Take Senna, an herbal laxative: 

Senna is a popular safe and effective herbal laxative that helps treat constipation. It is available over the counter and online, in both oral and rectal forms.

Senna contains plant compounds called glycosides, which stimulate the nerves in the gut and help speed up bowel movements.

Doctors consider Senna safe for adults for short periods of time, but people should consult a doctor if their symptoms do not go away after a few days.

Doctors usually do not recommend Senna for pregnant women, those who are breastfeeding, or people with certain health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

6. Have probiotics

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.

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. 
Try taking probiotic supplements, which are available online, or eating more probiotic-rich foods to see if this helps with constipation. Prebiotic foods include:

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

7.  Add on an osmotic

Osmotic laxatives work slightly differently than stimulant laxatives. They’re designed to help move fluids through the colon. Some examples include:

magnesium hydroxide (Phillips Milk of Magnesia)
polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX)
magnesium citrate
lactulose (Kristalose)
With a doctor’s prescription, you can obtain higher-strength polyethylene glycol, also called PEG (Golytely, Nulytely).

8. Try an enema

There are several types of enemas that you can try. Enemas work by softening stool enough to produce a bowel movement. Some common types of enemas include sodium phosphate (Fleet), soapsuds, and tap water enemas. Learn about proper ways to administer an enema.

How to modify your lifestyle to prevent constipation:

The above advice can help encourage a quick bowel movement to relieve short-term discomfort. However, some of the lifestyle changes can also keep your constipation at bay more permanently. For regularity, try to make these tips part of your daily habit.

Add more fiber to your diet, with fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, beans, and whole grains. You should consume at least 14 grams of fiber per day for every 1,000 calories in your diet. If you need to take a fiber supplement for chronic constipation, start with a low dose and increase as tolerated. For some people, a large amount of fiber can lead to bloating.
Exercise most days of the week with a daily walk, jog, bike ride, swim, or other form of exercise. Light exercise helps maintain proper circulation and can keep the bowels healthy.
Consume plenty of liquids — mostly water and other clear liquids — every day. Aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses of clear liquids per day.
Manage your stress.
Never “hold in” your stool.

When to see a doctor: 

Chronic constipation can make it challenging for a person to focus on their daily tasks and activities. If your constipation lasts more than a week and doesn’t respond to treatment, it’s time to see a doctor to rule out serious causes. See a doctor right away if your constipation is accompanied by dizziness, fatigue, cramping, or spasms.