Remedies for constipation

Constipation remedies
Treatment generally depends on the cause, severity, and duration. However changes in diet and lifestyle usually helps relieve symptoms of constipation and also prevent it.

Foods that help with constipation
A diet with sufficient fiber (20-35 grams daily) helps form bulky, soft stool. You can consult a doctor or dietitian to help you plan a diet for you.

High-fiber foods include:

  • whole grains

  • bran cereals

  • fresh fruits

  • beans

  • asparagus

  • brussels sprouts

  • cabbage

  • carrots

foods that cause constipation
People who are prone to constipation should limit the intake of low-fiber foods, these include:

  • ice cream

  • cheese

  • meat

  • processed foods

Changes in lifestyle preventing constipation

Changes that can help treat and prevent constipation are for example:

  • drinking enough liquids (water, vegetable juices, clear soup)

  • doing daily exercises

  • take enough time for bowel movement

  • don't ignore bowel movements urges

People who suffer from mild constipation generally do not need laxatives. If diet and lifestyle changes didn't bring much constipation relief then doctors may prescribe laxatives or enemas, this only for a short-term period. Treatments like this can often help in retraining a sluggish bowel. Short-term treatment with laxatives in combination with retraining to establish regular bowel habits does often work well in preventing constipation with children.

The doctor decides if a patient needs laxatives, and which form is best for the patient. Laxatives are usually taken by mouth and are available in these forms:

  • liquid

  • tablet

  • gum

  • powder

  • granule

There are different types of laxatives:

Bulk-forming laxatives
These are considered the safest, but can affect the absorption of other medicines or supplements. This type of laxatives is also called fiber supplements. These fiber supplements are taken with water and make the stool softer by absorbing water in the intestine.

Some brand names:

  • Metamucil

  • Citrucel

  • Konsyl

  • Serutan

Laxative stimulants initiate rhythmic muscle contractions in the intestine.
Some brand names

  • Correctol

  • Dulcolax

  • Purge

  • Senokot

Phenolphthalein and cancer
According to certain scientific studies there might be a relation between phenolphthalein and cancer. Phenolphthalein is an ingredient in several stimulant laxatives. The studies concluded that the use of laxatives containing this ingredient might increase the risk for cancer. A ban has been proposed by The Food and Drug Administration on all over-the-counter laxatives containing phenolphthalein. The majority of laxative producers have already substituted or plan to substitue phenolphthalein with another safer ingredient.

stool softener laxatives provide moisture to the stool and prevent dehydration. These types of laxatives are mostly prescribed after childbirth or surgery. Some brands:

  • Colace

  • Surfak

lubrication for constipation relief
Products that grease the stool are called lubricants. These products enable the stool to pass through the intestines with less difficulty. Oils like for example mineral oil can be used.

Saline laxatives
Saline laxatives draw water (like a spunge) into the colon for easier passage of stool.

  • Milk of Magnesia

  • Haley's M-O

Only use laxatives for a LIMITED time
People who have a dependency on laxative products need to find a way to slowly stop taking them. Consult a doctor for help in this process. Once people are not dependant anymore on laxatives anymore it is often seen that the colon's natural ability to contract comes back.

chronic constipation
People who suffer from chronic constipation as a result of anorectal dysfunction have the option to use biofeedback to retrain the muscles controlling the release of bowel movements. With biofeedback a sensor is used to monitor muscle activity. The data is displayed on a computer, which gives an accurate assesment of the body functions. This information is then used by a health care professional to assist the patient in learning how to use the muscles.

Removal of colon
For people with severe constipation symptoms caused by colonic inertia surgical removal of the colon is sometimes an option The advantages of this procedure must be balanced against eventual problems, such as abdominal pains and diarrhea.