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
The causes can vary, and it’s typically a symptom of an underlying issue rather than a condition. Causes can include:
- eating foods with too little fiber
- other health issues
According to a 2014 study, the average whole gut transit range is about
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
- calcium polycarbophil (FiberCon)
- psyllium (Metamucil, Konsyl)
- methylcellulose (Citrucel)
2. Eat foods for constipation relief
Eating foods high in fiber can help you relieve constipation, according to the
High-fiber foods can include:
- 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
- low fiber snacks like chips
- 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
- whether or not you’re pregnant or breastfeeding
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)
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
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)
- 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 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.
Before taking any herbs or teas for constipation relief, you should also talk with a doctor. While
Children may have constipation if they have
Small children who are toilet trained may also benefit from regular sessions on the toilet at the same time every day, for about
If their condition still doesn’t improve or they have other symptoms, they may need medical attention. Additional symptoms that require
- abdominal distension
- poor appetite
- weight loss
- constipation that occurs before a baby is a month old
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 short term. If you don’t find relief after making dietary changes, consider talking with a doctor about the safest options for you.
You can treat occasional constipation with OTC laxatives or stool softeners. But 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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 gramsof fiber per day. If you need to take a fiber supplement for chronic constipation, start with a low dose and then increase it slowly. For some people, consuming a large amount 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 can 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:
Constipation happens when you pass fewer than
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 that may play a role in your constipation and prescribe medication to help.