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What Helps With Constipation In Adults

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How Long Will I Need To Take Laxatives For

How to treat constipation in adults

If you’ve had constipation for a short time, your pharmacist will usually advise you to stop taking the laxative once your stools are soft and easily passed.

However, if your constipation is caused by an underlying medical condition or a medicine you’re taking, your GP may advise you to take laxatives for much longer, possibly many months or even years.

If you’ve been taking laxatives for some time, you may have to gradually reduce your dose, rather than coming off them straight away. If you have been prescribed a combination of laxatives, you’ll normally have to reduce the dosage of each laxative, one at a time, before you can stop taking them. This can take several months.

Your GP will advise you about when it’s best to stop taking long-term laxatives.

Try An Abdominal Massage

An abdominal massage is effective in relieving constipation by stimulating muscle contractions. As a home remedy, it can result in having higher frequencies of bowel movements and relieving discomfort in the body when done frequently.

You dont have to engage in a professional doctor or massage therapist for help, simply check out any online video that guides you through the process of massaging your abdomen area from the comfort of your home!

When To See A Doctor

Even though most people experience occasional constipation, this condition is sometimes serious and may require medical attention.

It may be a symptom of an underlying health condition such as hypothyroidism, colorectal cancer, or bowel disease .

Constipation that passes quickly and isnt severe typically isnt a cause for concern.

However, if your constipation doesnt improve with dietary changes such as drinking more water and increasing your fiber intake, or if you have a family history of colon cancer, you should consult your doctor.

Additionally, if youre experiencing any of the following symptoms alongside constipation, you should see a doctor as soon as possible (

  • unexplained weight loss

You may feel uncomfortable talking about constipation with your doctor, but its important to keep them informed of any health changes, including changes in your bowel movements, so they can provide you appropriate care.

Theyve likely heard it all before and want you to feel comfortable discussing any symptom with them, no matter what it is.


While occasional constipation isnt usually a cause for concern, chronic constipation requires professional treatment. If you also have symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloody stool, or lower back pain, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

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How Long Does Constipation After Surgery Last

Most people with constipation following surgery will experience relief after a few days, especially if they receive treatment quickly.

Stool softeners and fiber laxatives tend to act within a few days, while stimulant laxatives and suppositories typically work within 24 hours.

The exact amount of time that it takes will depend on several factors, including:

  • a persons overall health
  • the duration of anesthesia
  • the type of medication

A person should speak to a doctor if their constipation persists for more than a few days.

Eat More Fiber To Relieve Constipation

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If youre dealing with occasional constipation, upping your fiber intake for a few days to get back onto a more normal-for-you bowel movement schedule can be sufficient.

For chronic constipation, Slattery suggests consulting with a dietitian who can help you create a more fiber-rich, long-term eating plan. She recommends working up to 2530 grams of fiber a day for women and 3038 grams for men.

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Foods To Avoid If You Have Constipation

In the same way that there are foods that help ease constipation, there are foods that can promote constipation and make things worse. These include foods with little or no fiber and those made with refined wheat, saturated fats, or trans fat.

Among the food to avoid if you have constipation are:

  • Baked goods, such as cupcakes and cookies
  • Fast foods, such as burgers, tacos, and pizzas
  • Fried foods, including french fries and fried chicken
  • Processed meat, like hotdogs, sausages, and salami

Set Yourself Up For Success

Set aside time each day so you can take your time in the bathroom. Allow yourself enough time to have a bowel movement without distractions or feeling rushed. Plus, establishing a routine may help.

“Our lives can get busy, especially if you feel like you’re in a rush to get to work in the morning, but it’s important to not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement,” says Dr. Johal.

Putting some focus on the position of your body during a bowel movement can make a difference, too.

“Some people find that placing a small stepstool under their feet while sitting on the toilet makes bowel movements easier this position can help you flex your hips and place your pelvis in a more natural squat position,” says Dr. Johal.

If none of these changes help unblock you, adding processed or synthetic fiber to your daily diet, or taking a stool softener, a rectal glycerin suppository or laxatives can help.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, call your doctor, says Dr. Johal. They can help you determine what treatments might work best for you.

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How Is Constipation Treated

Improving your diet, fiber and fluid intake may resolve mild forms of constipation. Medicines that treat constipation are called laxatives and there are many different types, such as:

  • Bulk-forming laxatives . These absorb water in the bowel and swell to bulk out the stool making it softer and easier to pass
  • Emollient stool softeners . These moisten and lubricate the stool making it easier to pass
  • Osmotic laxatives draw fluid into the bowel and soften stools
  • Stimulant laxatives which promote contraction of the intestines, promoting the movement of stools through the bowel.

People should eat more vegetables and fruit, exercise daily, reduce their consumption of constipation-causing foods , and exercise daily.

Foods To Avoid When Constipated

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High-fat foods those rich in oil, butter and grease can contribute to constipation.

If you are chronically constipated, overeating fried food, processed meats, commercially baked goods and other high-fat items may be responsible. Slattery cites cheese as a particular constipation culprit.

Really high-fat foods slow down digestion, she says. Fats are tricky to digest, and take a long time for the body to break down. Also, most high-fat foods are low in fiber and delay motility.

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Complications Of Chronic Constipation

Some of the complications of chronic constipation include:

  • Faecal impaction the lower bowel and rectum become so packed with faeces that the muscles of the bowels cant push any of it out.
  • Faecal incontinence an overfull bowel can result in involuntary dribbling of diarrhoea.
  • Haemorrhoids constant straining to open the bowel can damage the blood vessels of the rectum.
  • Urinary incontinence the constant straining weakens pelvic floor muscles. This makes the involuntary passing of urine more likely, especially when coughing, laughing or sneezing.

Natural Constipation Remedies To Empty Your Bowels

  • Lemon juicea cleansing way to encourage bowel movements is to try taking a glass of water mixed with the juice of half a lemon before bed and when you wake up. You may want to drink with a straw as you could find your teeth becoming sensitive after a regular course of lemon water.
  • Olive oilconsuming a teaspoon of olive oil in the morning on an empty stomach can encourage stool to flow through the gut. The oil acts as a lubricant in the digestive system, meaning its easier for solids to slide through. It also softens up the stool, making it easier to empty your bowels completely.
  • Prune juice/dried prunesone of the more traditional remedies for constipation. Prune juice lacks the fibre of the dried fruit, but both are high in sorbitol content. Sorbitol passes through the gut undigested and draws water into the gut, which bulks up the stool and stimulates a bowel movement.
  • Stewed apricotsa flavoursome favourite to help relieve constipation. De-stone and chop a punnet of apricots in half. Put in a saucepan with 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar, add two tablespoons of water and turn to a low-medium heat. Stew until they begin to soften then take off the heat and leave with a lid on to cool. These are delicious for breakfast and go fantastically with yoghurt and granola.
  • Clear soups Naturally healthy, clear soups add moisture to stools, which can help to make them softer and bowel movements easier. Warm foods, such as soups, are also generally easier for the body to process.
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    Fiber Combats Both Constipation And Diarrhea

    “Vegetables are great because they contain a lot of fiber, which helps regulate your digestion,” says Dr. Eichele. “The nice thing about fiber is it improves both diarrhea and constipation. It helps hold water in for constipation, and for folks with diarrhea it adds bulk to the stool to help form it.”

    • Insoluble fiber holds on to water, making stools softer and easier to pass. Sources of insoluble fiber include brown rice, whole grains, green beans, broccoli and cabbage
    • Soluble fiber adds bulk to poop, preventing diarrhea. Sources of soluble fiber include apples, berries, beans, nuts, seeds and oats

    If you’re not used to eating fiber, a gradual increase will help your body adjust. You might experience cramping, flatulence and bloating from eating too much fiber all at once. “Add fiber little by little to your diet over the course of several days. You’ll feel much better in the long run,” advises Dr. Eichele.

    Exercise Gets Things Moving

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    “Exercise will definitely help with constipation,” says Dr. Eichele. “In some cultures, people go for a walk after a meal. That activity stimulates the digestion process.”

    A 10- or 15-minute walk after a meal means your colon will get moving, too which is a healthy, normal response.

    If you’ve heard of “runner’s gut,” the same principle applies. “Long-distance runners can sometimes struggle with needing to go, due to an overactive colon,” says Dr. Eichele.

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    Best Beans And Legumes For Constipation

    Beans and legumes offer a great mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber. They are also an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, and many other important vitamins and minerals.

    Even so, beans and legumes have the potential to cause gas and bloating. This is caused in part by a complex sugar known as raffinose that produces hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane gas as it is broken down in the digestive tract.

    As nutritious and beneficial as beans and legumes are, start slowly and increase your intake gradually to avoid side effects.

    Among the beans and legumes that can help ease constipation are:

    Gentle Laxatives Can Also Help

    If exercise and hydration aren’t improving things, you can also look for a gentle laxative. “Trying an over-the-counter laxative is generally OK,” says Dr. Eichele. “An osmotic laxative like MiraLAX might be a good first step. Osmotic laxatives help your colon hang on to water.”

    “Some people prefer fiber supplementation, like Metamucil or psyllium,” says Dr. Eichele. “These are usually pretty mild, gentle laxatives. But if the laxatives aren’t helping, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.”

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    Castor Oil For Constipation

    Castor oil is a stimulant laxative that can help stimulate the large and small intestines and improve bowel movements. When taken on an empty stomach, castor oil will be beneficial in softening stools and relieving constipation within several hours.

    For this remedy, swallow 2 teaspoons of castor oil on an empty stomach. You can also take castor oil with your favorite fruit juice to improve the taste.

    However, this solution should not be repeated for a long time as it may cause side effects.

    Best Fruits For Constipation

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    Fruits are a great food for constipation. Most are an excellent source of dietary fiber and also provide a host of nutritional benefits.

    Both fresh and dried fruits are good options. Some, like prunes, contain cellulose that not only increases the amount of water in stools but also promotes fermentation that adds to the stool weight.

    Others, like apples and pears, contain pectin that also increases water volumes while speeding the movement of stools through the intestine.

    Here are some fresh fruits that can ease constipation:

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    Get Into A Squat Position

    You probably dont consider how you poop, but there can be some benefits to rethinking your position.

    Squatting or using a stool can help your stool pass more easily.

    Some people learn maneuvers and techniques over time of how to pass stool that arent working for them, so it can be beneficial to re-teach the mechanics of stooling, says Dr. Garg.

    Water Does A Body Good

    Drinking enough water helps your gastrointestinal tract create the right consistency of stool.

    “Water is necessary for all your organs,” says Dr. Eichele. “So your colon will pull out water from your food to deliver to your heart, brain and lungs.” If you aren’t drinking enough liquid water, your colon will hold on to the limited resource. And then constipation.

    For soft stools , drink up. “For best results, drink 48 to 64 ounces of water each day just not all at once,” says Dr. Eichele. Drink an eight-ounce glass of water multiple times throughout the day for best results.

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    Pharmacy First Scotland: Constipation Treatment From Your Pharmacy

    If you have constipation you can get advice and treatment directly from a pharmacy. Find your local pharmacy on Scotland’s Service Directory.

    Constipation isn’t usually serious and can be treated by a pharmacist. Your pharmacist may recommend that you contact your GP practice if required.

    Also speak to your pharmacist if you think your child might be constipated. Laxatives are often recommended for children alongside diet and lifestyle changes.

    You may be able to treat constipation yourself by making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle . If these changes don’t help and the problem continues, you should see your pharmacist.

    However, you should see your GP for advice if:

    • you notice any rectal bleeding
    • you notice any unexplained weight loss
    • you have persistent tiredness
    • your constipation lasts longer than 14 days without improvement

    When To See Your Doctor About Constipation

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    If youve tried these home remedies to make yourself poop and youre still struggling, or if you find that youre regularly constipated, Dr. Bedford says its time to check in with your primary care physician. They can do an evaluation to see what might be behind your inability to poopand give you guidance on how to solve the problem.

    The NIDDK says that youll want to seek help ASAP, though, if you have constipation, along with these issues:

    • Rectal bleeding

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    Other Supplements That May Help

    Research suggests that the following products may also relieve constipation:

  • Sujiaonori. This fiber-rich, edible green river algae is native to Japan. Some research suggests that treatment with sujiaonori powder may relieve symptoms of constipation and improve digestive function (
  • Although these treatments may be worthwhile if youre looking for natural constipation remedies, you should first discuss them with your doctor. Thats because herbal supplements may react with common medications and cause adverse effects if used incorrectly.


    Sujiaonori, lactitol, CCH1, and MZRW are treatments that may help relieve symptoms of constipation. To ensure your safety, consult your doctor before trying them or any other supplement to treat constipation.

    How Can Constipation In Adults Be Prevented

    • Develop regular bowel habits. Set aside time before or after breakfast to use the toilet.
    • Do not ignore the desire to defecate. Answer nature’s call to empty your bowels as soon as possible.
    • Eat a well-balanced diet that includes wheat grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Recent evidence suggests that increasing dietary fiber intake may help some people with hard stools, but is not necessarily of benefit to every person with constipation.
    • Drink plenty of water and fruit juice.
    • Exercise regularly. Walking is especially important.
    • Avoid intake of medications that may cause constipation. Discuss the medications and OTC products you currently take with your doctor or pharmacist.
    • The use of laxatives can make a constipation problem worse in the long term and should be avoided.

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    Medical Treatment For Constipation


    If over-the-counter treatments donât do the job, your doctor may prescribe a different kind of medication.

    • Prescription laxatives such as linaclotide, lubiprostone, and plecanatide work by increasing the amount of water in your intestines and speeding up the movement of stool. Note that Amitiza is approved for use only in women.

    • Serotonin 5-hydroxytryptamine 4 receptors. Prucalopride is a powerful stimulant thatâs used for chronic constipation without a known cause.

    • PAMORAs. This is a shorter way of saying âperipherally acting mu-opioid receptor antagonists.â These work on constipation thatâs caused by opioid pain medicines. These drugs include methylnaltrexone and naloxegol

    Surgery for constipation treatment

    Sometimes constipation is caused by a structural problem in your colon or rectum. Your colon may be blocked or unusually narrow, or you may have a partial collapse or a bulge in the wall of your rectum. In that case, surgery can correct the problem.

    Surgery may also be a last resort if your colon just works too slowly and treatments havenât helped. You may need to have a section of your colon removed.

    When To See A Doctor For Constipation

    Exercises for Relieving Constipation, IBS Bloating and Abdominal Pain

    Most individuals have experienced some form of constipation in their lifetime. While constipation can go away on its own, it is helpful to know what can ease the discomfort of this common ailment. If home remedies for constipation or OTC products do not produce a bowel movement, an individual may need to seek medical attention. Untreated constipation can lead to an impacted bowel.

    Constipation may be a symptom of a greater health concern, consult your doctor or healthcare professional if you have not had a bowel movement within a two- to three-week period of time. Furthermore, medical assistance may be needed if you are experiencing severe abdominal pain or concerning blood in the constipated stool. Ask your doctor about recommended home remedies for constipation and prevention of constipation in the future.

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