Living with IBS is a daily challenge. You have to put up with the embarrassing symptoms, the near-constant need to find the restroom, and of course, the uncomfortable physical aspects of the condition. Constipation can be one of the most frustrating, painful, and uncomfortable symptoms. The good news is that there are many ways you can find relief and get back to some sense of regularity.
Fiber is a non-digestible material found naturally in food that helps to move food through your colon. In this way, it can help get things moving and relieve your constipation. You can get more fiber in two ways: through your diet or with the help of a supplement. Start by increasing the fiber content of your diet. If changing your diet doesn’t provide relief, try a supplement. Be sure to always check with your doctor before starting any supplements.
Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Unfortunately, along with relieving constipation, fiber can also increase gas, cramping, and pain. The best way to avoid this is to introduce fiber into your diet slowly until you can get used to processing these foods. Make sure you drink plenty of water and check your food labels to aim for 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
Sometimes, over-the-counter laxatives can provide adequate temporary relief from constipation. Be sure to consult with your doctor before trying a new product and always start with the lowest recommended dosage. These medications are not meant to be used for long periods, but can be very helpful in the short-term. Ask your doctor which laxative is right for you and use only when truly necessary.
When other options have failed, talk to your doctor about prescriptions to treat your constipation. A few drugs on the market are designed to relieve constipation.
This is a stimulant laxative, which means it stimulates the activity of your intestines to produce a bowel movement. It should produce a bowel movement within six to 12 hours of taking it. If your doctor gives you this medication, take it only as directed and for no longer than is recommended. It is possible to become dependent on laxatives and lose normal bowel activity.
This drug is prescribed for constipation, and often specifically for the chronic constipation associated with IBS. It works by increasing the amount of fluids in your stool. This softens the stool, making it easier to pass. Make sure you follow dosages and your doctor’s instructions carefully.
The FDA just recently approved this drug. It is targeted at IBS sufferers with constipation. Because it is so new, your doctor may not know much about it yet.
Some aspects of alternative medicine may provide you some relief from constipation. Although not proven effective, acupuncture may reduce some of the pain associated with your condition. You might also try yoga, massage, and meditation. Again, these are not proven to help with research, but there is no harm in trying them. At the very least, they will reduce your stress.
You might also try eating probiotics. These are bacteria that naturally live in your intestines and help you to process food. It is possible that you are lacking the right combination of these useful critters. In this case, eating yogurt with active cultures may provide some relief.