Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal problem. The normal frequency of bowel movements can vary from person to person, from three times a day to three times a week, and most people have a regular habit. Passing hard stools less than 3 times a week is probably a constipated person. Other symptoms include bloating, nausea, cramping in a lower abdomen, headache, mouth ulcer and bad breath. Eating a diet that is low in fiber, not drinking enough fluids, having a sedentary lifestyle, emotional stress or repeatedly ignoring the urge to go to the bathroom can contribute to constipation. Although constipation can affect anyone, it’s more common in women and in people over age 65. It also tends to occur during pregnancy, after childbirth or surgery. Some medicines, such as certain painkillers and iron supplements, may cause or aggravate the problem. Occasionally, constipation is caused by an underlying illness. Most cases of constipation are temporary and by simply changing lifestyle, such as getting more exercise, drinking more fluids and eating a high-fiber diet, can go a long way toward alleviating constipation.
- Going for a long time without having a bowel movement.
- Hard stools that are difficult to pass.
- Have a feeling of incomplete evacuation after having a bowel movement.
- Strain excessively during bowel movements.
- Abdominal discomfort.
Home Remedies for Constipation
- Blond psyllium: Take 1 tsp psyllium husk twice daily. Psyllium husks act as a bulk laxative for relieving constipation. To reduce gastrointestinal side effects, start with a small dose and gradually increase the amount. Be sure to increase your water intake with any fiber product or it could make symptoms worse.
- Apple: Eat a raw apple about an hour after a meal. Apples are very cleansing, and will encourage bowel movements. Pineapple juice, pears, guava are also effective.
- Prunes: Eat a handful of dried prunes or drink some prune juice everyday an hour after meals. In addition to adding fiber, prunes have a mild laxative effect.
- Banana: Eat ripe yellow bananas between meals, not with the meals. Bananas helps provide constipation relief and regulate bowel movement.
- Honey: Take 1 tablespoon honey every morning, or add it to tea. Honey soothes the bowel and can be added to food or drinks to relieve constipation.
- Lime: Squeeze half a lime in a glass of hot water, add half a teaspoon of salt in it and drink. The ample amount of acids present in lime helps clear the excretory system.
- Flaxseeds: Sprinkle two teaspoon of ground flaxseeds over any meal. Flaxseed help to ease constipation. Flaxseeds are highly concentrated in fiber and contain essential fatty acids which promotes smooth bowel movements.
- Aloe Juice: Aloe juice or aloe latex can be used as a stimulant laxative, but it should not be confused with aloe vera gel which is used for wound healing or sunburn. Aloe vera should be used for occasional relief.
- Figs: For constipation in children, give 3 figs soaked in warm water. Figs are great source of fibre and helps make stool softer.
- Milk with clarified butter (ghee): For constipation during pregnancy, a cup of hot milk with a teaspoon of ghee added is effective.
Do’s for Constipation
- Eat more fiber rich foods. Include fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole-grain cereals and whole grain breads which are high in fiber. It help soften waste material and help it pass more quickly through your colon. This reduces pressure inside your digestive tract. Add fiber to your diet gradually to avoid gas and bloating.
- Increase the intake of fluids preferably water. Drink eight to ten glasses of pure water daily. Drinking inadequate amount of fluids is one of the biggest contributors to constipation.
- Exercise regularly for 20-30 minutes, such as walking, biking or swimming, which help to stimulate intestinal function.
- Take a good probiotic such as yogurt, kefir to help promote a healthy flora of intestine that can assist gentle bowel movements.
- Develop regular bowel habits. Set aside time after breakfast to visit the toilet.
- Try an elimination diet to help you to identify what may be triggering your body and causing your colon to contract.
- Go to bathroom when urge; don’t wait. Allow adequate time for bowel movements. The longer you wait, the more water is absorbed from stool and the stool becomes much harder.
Don’ts for Constipation
- Don’t skip breakfast. Having a hot drink with breakfast helps to stimulate bowel.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol intake, which can worsen symptoms of constipation by causing dehydration.
- Avoid fried foods, sugar, refined white flour and other processed foods that contribute to constipation.
- Avoid foods and drinks that cause gas, such as cabbage, broccoli, and fizzy drinks, until the constipation is gone.
- Avoid medications that causes constipation. Consult doctor to help you in this regard.
- Avoid the regular use of over-the-counter laxatives. Try to avoid laxatives containing senna (Senokot) or buckthorn (Rhamnus purshiana) because long-term intake may damage the lining of your bowel and injure nerve endings to the colon. The use of laxatives can actively make a constipation problem worse in the long run.
- Avoid hurried meals and meals at odd times.
- Constipation has not cleared up after 7 days.
- Having recurrent bouts of constipation.
- Intense abdominal pain.
- Blood in your stool.
- Constipation that alternates with diarrhea.
- Severe pain in the anus during bowel movement.