Constipation remedies such as increasing fiber intake and performing a colonic massage may help move things along. Sometimes, you may need a laxative, suppository, or enema.

Constipation occurs when you pass fewer than three bowel movements per week or have bowel movements that are hard and difficult to pass. This can lead to excessive straining and time spent on the toilet.

The causes can vary, and it’s typically a symptom of an underlying issue rather than a condition. Causes can include:

  • dehydration
  • eating foods with too little fiber
  • stress
  • other health issues

According to a 2014 study, the average whole gut transit range is about 10 to 73 hours. But your exercise and eating habits, age, sex, and health status all affect your number of bowel movements. While there’s no set number you should have, it can be dangerous to go three or fewer times per week.

Read on to learn more about how to relieve both short-term and long-term constipation and when to get advice from a doctor.

If you’re experiencing constipation, the following quick treatments can help induce a bowel movement in a few hours.

1. Take a fiber supplement

Fiber supplements can effectively induce bowel movements if a low fiber diet is the cause of your constipation. They add volume to your stool to help push it through your intestines and out of your body.

Options include:

  • calcium polycarbophil (FiberCon)
  • psyllium (Metamucil, Konsyl)
  • methylcellulose (Citrucel)

2. Eat foods for constipation relief

Eating foods high in fiber can help you relieve constipation.

High-fiber foods can include:

  • oats
  • whole grain bread or cereal
  • whole wheat pasta
  • fibrous fruits like apples and bananas
  • fibrous vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and leafy greens
  • brown rice
  • beans and lentils
  • split peas
  • nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, and almonds

Additionally, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that could potentially worsen constipation, such as:

  • low fiber snacks like chips
  • meat
  • prepared foods, such as boxed and frozen meals
  • fast food
  • processed foods, such as certain frozen meals, deli meats, and hot dogs

3. Drink a glass of water

You need proper hydration for regular bowel movements — at least 1.8 liters or about seven to eight 8-ounce glasses of clear liquid daily. The exact amount can depend on:

  • size
  • sex
  • whether or not you’re pregnant or nursing

If you’re constipated and haven’t been drinking enough water, consuming a large glass of it may trigger a bowel movement.

4. Take a laxative stimulant

Laxative stimulants squeeze the intestines to force a bowel movement and may take up to 6 to 12 hours to take effect. You can get stimulants over the counter (OTC) at your local pharmacy. Some options include:

  • bisacodyl (Dulcolax, Ducodyl, Correctol)
  • senna sennosides (Senokot)

The NIDDK recommends laxative stimulants primarily for severe constipation that don’t respond to other treatment methods. They recommend avoiding laxatives until underlying causes have been ruled out.

5. Take an osmotic laxative

Osmotic laxatives work slightly differently than stimulant laxatives. They help move fluids through the colon. Some examples include:

  • magnesium hydroxide (Phillips Milk of Magnesia)
  • polyethylene glycol (PEG) (MiraLAX)
  • magnesium citrate
  • lactulose (Kristalose)

Osmotic laxatives tend to work a bit more slowly than stimulant laxatives. It may take 2 to 3 days.

With a doctor’s prescription, you can obtain higher strength PEG (GoLYTELY, NuLYTELY).

6. Try a lubricant laxative

Lubricant laxatives such as mineral oil add a slick coat to your intestines’ walls and the stool mass. This allows stool to retain water and move more efficiently through your colon and out of your body.

7. Use a stool softener

Dehydration can cause hard stool. A stool softener, such as docusate sodium (Colace) or docusate calcium (Surfak), can moisten the stool by pulling water from your intestines. This allows the stool to exit your body more easily.

8. Try an enema

Enemas work by softening stool enough to produce a bowel movement. Enemas use liquid to push stools out of the rectum.

Common types include:

  • sodium phosphate (Fleet)
  • soapsuds
  • tap water enemas

9. Try a suppository

Rectal suppositories inserted into the rectum can soften stool and help encourage bowel movements.

Common types include glycerin or bisacodyl suppositories.

10. Get in a squat position to poop

Bring a small footstool into your bathroom the next time you need to poop. Placing your feet on a stool in front of the toilet while you poop — so your body is essentially in a squatting position instead of a seated one — can help you pass stool without straining.

11. Get some exercise

Light exercises like walking or yoga can encourage bowel movements by increasing blood flow throughout your abdomen.

12. Try colonic massage

Manually massaging the colon may help stimulate the bowels for people whose constipation is caused by the slow movement of stool through the colon.

A 2021 study suggested that an automatic abdominal massage device helped reduce stool transit time in people with chronic constipation.

13. Try natural remedies

Natural remedies like probiotics may help treat and prevent constipation. Some studies note increased stool frequency after use. While considered safe, doctors may recommend avoiding them if you are immunocompromised.

Before taking any herbs or teas for constipation relief, you should also talk with a doctor. While 2019 research suggests that some herbal combinations, such as clover, fennel, and senna, may help constipation, they may interact with other medications.

Children may have constipation if they have fewer than twoweekly bowel movements. It can lead to hard stools that are difficult to pass.

About 3% of children worldwide may have “functional constipation,” which is constipation with no underlying cause. If your child is experiencing constipation, you can help by increasing fluid intake and encouraging regular exercise.

Small children who are toilet trained may also benefit from regular sessions on the toilet at the same time every day, for about 5 to 10 minutes at a time, preferably after a meal.

If their condition still doesn’t improve or they have other symptoms, they may need medical attention. Additional symptoms that require immediate treatment in children with constipation can include the following:

  • diarrhea
  • abdominal distension
  • fever
  • poor appetite
  • weight loss
  • constipation that occurs before a baby is a month old

Constipation is also common during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. It can also occur shortly after you give birth.

In such cases, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends increasing your fiber intake through food to achieve a minimum of 25 grams per day and drinking more water.

Stool softeners may be safe during pregnancy when used in the short term. If you don’t find relief after making dietary changes, consider talking with a doctor about the safest options.

You can treat occasional constipation with OTC laxatives or stool softeners. However, chronic or ongoing constipation may require prescription medication.

You can have constipation due to another condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If that’s the case, treating the cause may help your symptoms. Constipation can have an unknown cause or begin spontaneously.

Treatment may include:

  • linaclotide (Linzess) or plecanatide (Trulance), which can help promote bowel regularity for people with idiopathic constipation or IBS
  • lubiprostone (Amitiza), which can help soften stools and increase bowel frequency by increasing fluid in the digestive tract
  • prucalopride (Motegrity), which can promote bowel regularity in long-term idiopathic constipation

The long-term safety of prescription medications for constipation is under debate. Talking with a doctor may help you make the best choice for your situation.

If you have severe constipation that doesn’t respond to dietary changes or traditional laxatives, you may benefit from other options.

These can include:

  • a laxative stimulant
  • biofeedback therapy to retrain the colon muscles
  • surgery to clear a rectal prolapse or blockage

If you can’t pass a bowel movement without taking laxatives, you may have an underlying cause requiring prompt medical attention.

Some lifestyle changes can also keep your constipation at bay more permanently. For regularity, try to make these tips part of your daily habit:

  • If possible, add more fiber to your diet. Add fiber-rich foods to your diet. Depending on your age, you should consume at least 22 to 34 grams of fiber daily. If you need a fiber supplement for chronic constipation, start with a low dose and then increase it slowly. For some people, consuming a lot of fiber can lead to bloating.
  • Consider exercising most days of the week if you can. Light exercises like a daily walk, jog, bike ride, or swim may help maintain proper circulation and keep the bowels healthy.
  • Consume plenty of liquids (mostly water and other clear liquids) every day. Aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses of clear liquids per day.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Avoid “holding in” your stool. Also, try to have bowel movements around the same time each day.

If your constipation lasts more than a week and doesn’t respond to treatment, a doctor may be able to rule out serious causes and find an effective treatment. You may also need medical care if your constipation is accompanied by:

  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • cramping
  • spasms

How do you relieve constipation in 30 minutes?

Try drinking warm liquids like herbal tea or water, which can stimulate bowel movements. Gentle abdominal massage or light exercise like walking may also help.

How do relieve constipation naturally?

Eating fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. Hydration is also crucial. Drink plenty of water to soften the stool and aid in its passage.

What’s the fastest way to relieve constipation?

Consider over-the-counter options like fiber supplements or stool softeners for fast relief from constipation. These can help ease bowel movements by adding bulk or moisture to stool, making it easier to pass.

Is there a simple way to empty your bowels?

Deep breaths can stimulate the vagus nerve, which plays a role in regulating digestion and bowel movements. Additionally, adopting a squatting position on the toilet can align the rectum for easier elimination.

Constipation happens when you pass fewer than three bowel movements per week or have bowel movements that are hard to pass without straining.

Home remedies include increasing your fiber intake or taking a laxative, using a suppository, or taking a stool softener. Trying out a squat position, doing light exercise, or performing a colonic massage may also help.

A doctor can check for other conditions affecting constipation and prescribe medication to help.