What Does Constipation Feel Like
Constipation can happen due to one or more breakdowns of the expected pathway where stool is excreted.
These can include slow-moving stool, hard stools, or experiencing a problem with the muscles and nerves needed to pass a bowel movement.
As a result, constipation can feel like many symptoms. Examples include:
- fullness in the stomach or pelvic region
- cramping of the bowels
- aching feeling in the back
Sometimes its difficult to distinguish between discomfort in your stomach and intestines. You might feel cramping or bloating in your intestines that pushes upward on your stomach.
As a result, you could feel stomach discomfort while the area of constipation is really in your intestines.
Sometimes constipation can be a medical emergency.
It May Help Treat Diarrhea
Research shows that psyllium can relieve diarrhea . It does this by acting as a water absorbing agent. It can increase stool thickness and slow down its passage through the colon.
One older study showed psyllium husk significantly decreased diarrhea in 30 people who were undergoing radiation therapy for cancer .
In another older study, researchers treated eight people who had lactulose-induced diarrhea with 3.5 g of psyllium three times daily. Doing so increased their stomach emptying time from 69 to 87 minutes, with accompanied slowing in the colon, which meant fewer bowel movements (
In fact, psyllium works better for this mechanism than other fibers, such as bran. This is because the gel forming fibers in psyllium can slow down the digestion of food, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
In one study, researchers gave 51 people with type 2 diabetes and constipation 10 g of psyllium twice per day. This resulted in reduced constipation, body weight, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol .
Because psyllium slows down the digestion of food, people should take it with food, rather than on its own, so it has a greater effect on blood sugar levels .
It seems that a daily dose of at least 10.2 g can promote lower blood sugar levels ( .
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.
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Check If It’s Constipation
It’s likely to be constipation if:
- you have not had a poo at least 3 times during the last week
- the poo is often large and dry, hard or lumpy
- you are straining or in pain when you have a poo
You may also have a stomach ache and feel bloated or sick.
If you’re caring for someone with dementia, constipation may be easily missed. Look out for any behaviour changes, as it might mean they are in pain or discomfort.
Take A Laxative Stimulant
Laxative stimulants are designed to force a bowel movement by squeezing the intestines and may take up to 6 to 12 hours to take effect. You can get stimulants over the counter at your local pharmacy. Some popular options include:
, laxative stimulants are primarily recommended for severe constipation that doesnt respond to other treatment methods. You also shouldnt use laxatives until possible secondary causes of constipation have been ruled out.
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Laxatives: Otc Products For Constipation
Last Updated August 2022 | This article was created by familydoctor.org editorial staff and reviewed by Deepak S. Patel, MD, FAAFP, FACSM
Constipation is a common condition that makes it difficult to have a bowel movement. It can be caused by:
- Too little physical activity
- Intestinal problems
Constipation can usually be treated with medicines called laxatives. Many laxatives are available over-the-counter . This means you can buy them at the store without a prescription from your doctor. Some may be called stool softeners or fiber supplements.
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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Why Do People Get Constipated
Theres actually a laundry list of potential reasons why you might get constipated, and its possible to have trouble pooping for more than a few reasons. Bowel movements are a dynamic process, Dr. Farhadi says. They depend on a lot of factors, including your level of activity, diet, stress, emotional factors, use of medicationyou name it. Everything that can affect the body can affect your bowel movements.
The NIDDK lists the following as possible constipation causes:
- Pelvic floor disorders
- Anatomic problems with your digestive tract
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Constipation Relief Through Prevention
As a rule, eating more high-fibre foods can prevent constipation. Be aware though, that if constipation is a result of Colitis or Crohns disease, increasing fibre intake could have a detrimental effect if in doubt, speak to your GP before making any changes to your diet.
There are two different types of fibre soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre dissolves in the intestines to form a gel-like substance which helps food move along the digestive tract. Insoluble fibre is not dissolvable and moves through the intestines without being absorbed, and adds bulk to bowel movements and helps to relieve constipation.
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Use Caution With Natural Laxatives
Commercially available constipation supplements with psyllium husks or guar gum, when used occasionally and as directed, are safe for most people. But she recommends using caution when considering other herbal supplements, pills, powders or laxative teas, especially for long-term use.
Some of the so-called natural or herbal constipation remedies are poorly researched and regulated, she notes. Some can cause diarrhea, cramping, bloating and even more serious digestive problems.
When Should I Go To The Hospital For High Blood Sugar
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What Are The Treatments For Ibs
Treatments for IBS-C and CIC are similar because the symptoms are similar. The primary focus is on relieving symptoms. However, treatment for IBS-C is a bit more comprehensive.
Because IBS-C is chronic, treatment plans should be designed to ease symptoms and prevent future issues. You may have to adjust treatment, especially during times of stress and change, but the treatment goal should be the same.
The goal of treatment for CIC is to ease constipation and improve your bodys ability to properly move waste through your intestines. The treatments are usually only needed temporarily, but certain lifestyle changes may help prevent future issues with constipation.
Warning Signs Of Severe Constipation
It’s when constipation lasts longer than just a few days that things start to get worrisome. Dr. Sonpal said that constipation becomes severe and warrants a healthcare provider’s help when a person isn’t able to poop for over a week, even while taking laxatives. If you’ve had constipation for quite a while and you also have a family history of colon or rectal cancer, you should also check in with your doctor.
If you’re struggling with constipation, the NIDDK also lists the following as signs you should see a doctor right away:
- Bleeding from your rectum
- Losing weight without trying
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When You Need To Poop But Cannot
Constipation is the medical term for not pooping regularly or finding it hard to poop. Other symptoms include feeling bloated, sick, or having a belly ache.
Constipation does not always have a clear cause. It often happens because a person is not eating enough fiber, drinking enough fluids, or exercising enough. Stress or a change in routine can also cause constipation, and it can be a side effect of some medications.
Traveling can mean that a person does not use the restroom at their usual times, hydrate regularly, or eat their typical diet. Planning bathroom breaks to try and maintain a routine may help.
Stress or anxiety about using a restroom outside of the home can prevent people from emptying their bowels. A person should try to relax, feel comfortable, and not rush.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Constipation
Different people have different bathroom habits. So someone who doesn’t have a bowel movement every day isn’t necessarily constipated. One person might go three times a day, while another might go once every 23 days.
But if you’re going less than you normally do, or if it’s often hard or painful to go, you might be constipated. A person with constipation might:
- feel full or bloated
- feel pain when having a bowel movement
- have to strain a lot to have a bowel movement
- notice a little blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet
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How To Take Laxatives
How you take laxative medication depends on the form it comes in, they are commonly available as:
- tablets or capsules you swallow
- sachets of powder you mix with water and then drink
- suppositories a capsule you place inside your back passage , where it will dissolve
- liquids or gels that you place directly into your back passage
Some laxatives are also designed to be taken at certain times of the day, such as first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
Read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication so you know how to take it properly. Ask your pharmacist for further advice if you’re still not sure how to take your medication.
While taking bulk-forming or osmotic laxatives it’s particularly important to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. This is because these laxatives can cause dehydration.
Never take more than the recommended dose of laxatives because this can be harmful and cause troublesome side effects .
Take A Fiber Supplements
Adding a psyllium-based fiber supplement like Metamucil to your diet can also help boost your fiber intake and keeps you regular by trapping and removing the waste that weighs you down*, You can take Metamucil Sugar-Free Orange Smooth Powder every day as an easy way to help relieve occasional constipation*. For a delicious way to take your Metamucil, try the plant-based psyllium fiber powder in a delicious chocolate orange shake.
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Drugs For Constipation From Opioids
Opioid pain relievers such as Vicodin, Percocet, and Oxycontin are known not only for their risk of addiction but also for constipation. Forty to 80 percent of people taking opioids for long-term pain experience constipation, according to the American Gastroenterological Association.
The FDA has approved three drugs specifically for constipation caused by taking prescription opioids for pain: methylnaltrexone , naldemedine , and naloxegol .
These medications, called peripherally acting mu-opioid receptor antagonists or Pamoras, relieve constipation by preventing opioids from attaching to receptors in the intestines. The drugs contain a compound that keeps them from reaching the brain, so they dont interfere with an opioids pain-relieving effects.
But patients with opioid-induced constipation should still try OTC laxatives before considering a prescription drug, according to AGA guidelines published in 2019. You want to give routine laxatives a chance because many times you can treat the constipation without going to an opioid antagonist, Wald says.
As with other prescription constipation drugs, one big drawback of Pamoras is price. The average cash price for a months supply of Movantik is $442 Symproic, $474 Relistor tablets, $2,362 and injectable Relistor, a whopping $4,840, according to GoodRx.