Constipation is uncomfortable and disruptive to your life, so when suffering from constipation you want to do what you can to relieve symptoms and get your bowel movements back on track. There are several home remedies you can try before (or in addition to) appropriate medication, that help relieve constipation and avoid it in the future.
Hydrate to Relieve Constipation
Lack of adequate hydration is one of the most common contributors to constipation, so drinking non-diuretic fluids is essential to relieve constipation symptoms. Water helps the body get rid of waste through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements. Adequate hydration softens stool and keeps the digestive tract moving, allowing stool to pass more quickly and easily. Lack of hydration causes slows the digestive tract and causes stool to become hard, dry, and difficult to pass. If you are constipated, increase the amount of water you drink per day, and continue to ensure adequate hydration to help prevent future bouts of constipation.
How do you know how much water to drink?
Thirst is not always the best indicator of dehydration, so it’s important to be aware of other factors that increase dehydration risk. Gender, climate conditions, medications, overall health, and amount of daily exercise factor into how much hydration your body needs.
People with certain health conditions, such as cystic fibrosis or heart disease, need to drink more water, as do people who exercise regularly and/or take diuretic medications. Exercise causes perspiration and loss of precious hydration. For every pound of water lost through sweating, a pint of fluid is needed to replenish fluids. If you don’t sweat during exercise, this is an indication that you aren’t drinking enough water. Darker urine color is also an indicator of dehydration. People who live in a warm climate need more hydration, even without exercise. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine states that the minimum daily water intake should be:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
Fiber and Constipation Relief
An adequate amount of daily fiber intake helps prevent and relieve constipation. Fiber retains water in the intestine, making stool easier to pass. Dietary fiber is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and isn’t absorbed into the body (unlike fats, proteins, and carbohydrates), so it increases the size and weight of stool and makes it easier to have regular bowel movements. Daily recommended fiber intake is between 20 – 25 grams per day on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults, and factors like gender, age, and weight contribute to the amount of daily fiber you need.
How can you increase fiber in your diet?
There are many easy ways to increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Simple changes include eating whole fruits (instead of fruit juices), snacking on vegetables and/or nuts and seeds (instead of chips and other junk foods), eat whole grain foods (instead of white bread, pasta, and white rice), and adding chia seeds to cereal, salads, and smoothies. Incorporating more legumes like green beans, peas, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, and brussel sprouts into your diet is also helpful.
Eating a high fiber breakfast is another way to jump start your day – and your bowel. High fiber breakfast cereals and/or bran muffins are a delicious way to incorporate more fiber into your diet. Look for foods with whole grain, bran, and fiber in the ingredients.
Increase Exercise to Help with Constipation
Lack of exercise or spending a lot of time sitting and/or lying down can increase risk of constipation. Getting enough daily exercise – even for 20 minutes a day – promotes healthy blood flow throughout the body and helps relieve and prevent constipation.
Aerobic activities that increase heart rate are best for relieving constipation by increasing blood flow to the organs, including the digestive tract. This blood flow promotes the intestinal contractions needed for healthy, regular bowel movements.
Exercising after a meal is a good way to keep the digestive tract moving. After a meal, blood flows to the digestive tract and promotes faster digestion and bowel movements. It’s a good idea to wait 30-60 minutes after eating (depending on the size of the meal) to exercise, however, so blood flow isn’t diverted from the digestive tract to the heart and lungs immediately following a meal.
If walking or more strenuous exercise isn’t possible due to illness or injury, stretching or light yoga can help keep your blood flowing and your bowel moving.
Routine Bowel Movements
When stool is not passed on a regular basis, or the urge to have a bowel movement is ignored, stool builds up in the bowel and causes constipation. A regular bowel routine trains your mind, and your body, to pass stool daily. Establish a regular daily time for bowel movements. First thing in the morning, and/or 20 – 40 minutes after a meal, is most common. It’s important not to withhold stool when you have an urge to go, so keep this in mind as you go about your day.
It’s important not to strain, so allow 10 -15 minutes to sit on the toilet and allow your body to pass stool organically. Keeping a record of the time and consistency of your bowel movements, along with hydration, exercise, and daily fiber intake, helps you track what works well and what doesn’t.
Changes in routine, such as traveling, can disrupt regularity, so keep this in mind if you aren’t able to stick to a daily pattern. Be sure to drink plenty of water, eat enough fiber, and stay as active as you can when your daily routine changes for any reason.
The DocuSol® and DocuSol® Plus Advantage
When your regular bowel protocol isn’t working to relieve constipation, enemas can help you get things moving again. It’s important to choose an enema that is safe and relieves your symptoms quickly, and be informed about the best choice for you. Always consult a physician before using enema products.
The DocuSol® mini-enema delivers 283mg of docusate sodium and functions as a stool softener hyper-osmotic laxative by drawing water into the bowel from surrounding body tissues, softening the stool and promoting a bowel movement. DocuSol® and DocuSol® Plus are popular choices due to the fast, predictable results (typically in 2-15 minutes), non-irritating formula, and flexible tip for ease of use.
DocuSol® Plus has the same active ingredients but contains an additional 20mg of benzocaine, assisting in the anesthetization of the rectum and lower bowel. The formulation was developed for patients who experience hemorrhoids, fissures, or painful bowel movements.
Disclaimer: The material contained is for reference purposes only. Alliance Labs, LLC and Summit Pharmaceuticals do not assume responsibility for patient care. Consult a physician prior to use. Copyright 2020 Summit Pharmaceuticals and Alliance Labs, LLC.