Constipation remedies such as taking a fiber supplement or eating high fiber foods and performing a colonic massage may help move things along. Other remedies can include taking a laxative or using a suppository or enema.
Constipation occurs when you pass fewer than
The causes of constipation vary, and it’s typically considered a symptom of an underlying issue, rather than a condition. Some possible causes of constipation may include dehydration or eating foods with too little fiber. In other, more serious cases, constipation can result from stress, hormonal changes, spinal injuries, muscle problems, cancers, and structural problems affecting the digestive tract.
According to a 2014 study, the average whole gut transit range is about
Read on to learn more about how you can alleviate both short-term and long-term constipation and when you should get advice from a doctor.
If you’re experiencing constipation, the following quick treatments can help induce a bowel movement in as little as a few hours.
1. Take a fiber supplement
Fiber supplements are readily available and
You can buy fiber supplements in stores or online. Here are a few common ones:
- calcium polycarbophil (FiberCon)
- psyllium (Metamucil, Konsyl)
- methylcellulose (Citrucel)
2. Eat foods for constipation relief
Eating foods that are high in fiber can help you find relief from constipation, according to the
Foods that are high in fiber can include:
- whole grain bread or cereal
- whole wheat pasta
- fibrous fruits, such as apples and bananas
- fibrous vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, and leafy greens
- brown rice
- beans and lentils
- split peas
- nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, and almonds
Be sure to drink lots of water with these foods, as it will further help push your stool through your system.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that could potentially
- chips and other low fiber snacks
- prepared foods, such as boxed and frozen meals
- fast food items
- processed foods, such as certain frozen meals, deli meats, and hot dogs
3. Drink a glass of water
Proper hydration is necessary for regular bowel movements. Researchers recommend about
4. 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 (OTC) at your local pharmacy. Some popular options include:
- bisacodyl (Dulcolax, Ducodyl, Correctol)
- senna sennosides (Senokot)
According to the
5. Take an osmotic laxative
The way osmotic laxatives work is slightly differently from how stimulant laxatives work. They’re designed to help move fluids through the colon. Some examples include:
- magnesium hydroxide (Phillips Milk of Magnesia)
- polyethylene glycol (PEG) (MiraLAX)
- magnesium citrate
- lactulose (Kristalose)
It’s important to keep in mind that osmotic laxatives tend to work a bit more slowly than stimulant laxatives. You can expect them to work within 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
One common cause of constipation is dehydration, which can cause hard stool. Using 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
There are several types of enemas that you can try. Enemas work by softening stool enough to produce a bowel movement. Enemas use liquid to push stools out of the rectum. They can be purchased at a pharmacy or online.
Some common types of enemas include:
- sodium phosphate (Fleet)
- tap water enemas
9. Try a suppository
Some treatments for constipation are available as rectal suppositories. These suppositories are inserted into the rectum to help encourage bowel movements by softening stool.
Common types include glycerin or bisacodyl suppositories, which you can find at your local pharmacy.
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 in a seated position — can help you pass stool without straining.
11. Get some exercise
Light exercise, such as walking, yoga, or jogging, can encourage bowel movements by increasing blood flow throughout your abdomen.
12. Try colonic massage
Manually massaging the colon can 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
Some natural remedies, such as consuming probiotics, may be helpful in treating and preventing constipation, with
You should also talk with a doctor before taking any herbs or teas for constipation relief. While
In children, constipation is defined as having
Small children who are toilet trained may also benefit from regular sessions on the toilet at the same time every day, for about
If your child’s condition still doesn’t improve after 1 week, you should see a pediatrician. Additional symptoms that require
- abdominal distension
- poor appetite
- weight loss
- constipation that occurs before your 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 of fiber per day. As you increase your fiber intake, it’s important to drink more water, too.
Stool softeners may be safe for use during pregnancy when used on a short-term basis. If you don’t find relief after making dietary changes, talk with a doctor about which options may be safest.
Occasional constipation may be relieved with the help of
Constipation may be caused by another condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If that’s the case, treating the cause may help your symptoms. Constipation can also be idiopathic, which means it has an unknown cause or begins spontaneously.
Options for treatment
- 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 (Resolor), which can promote bowel regularity in long-term idiopathic constipation
The long-term safety of prescription medications for constipation is
Severe constipation that doesn’t respond to dietary changes or traditional laxatives
Biofeedback therapy may provide another option. This therapy may help you
Sometimes, severe constipation may be linked to an underlying medical condition that requires surgery, although this is typically
The above advice can help encourage a quick bowel movement to relieve short-term discomfort. However, some of the following 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 by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, beans, and whole grains. You should consume at least
22 to 34 gramsof fiber per day, depending on your age. 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. This can include a daily walk, jog, bike ride, or swim or another form of exercise. Light exercise helps 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.
Chronic constipation can make it challenging for a person to focus on their daily tasks and activities. If your constipation lasts more than a week and doesn’t respond to treatment, it’s time to talk with a doctor to rule out serious causes. Talk with a doctor right away if your constipation is accompanied by dizziness, fatigue, cramping, or spasms.
Constipation happens when you pass fewer than
Home remedies for constipation can 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.
If you experience constipation regularly or constipation that lasts longer than a week, discuss your symptoms with a doctor. They can check for other conditions that may play a role in your constipation and prescribe a medication to help.
If your symptoms also include dizziness, fatigue, cramps, or spasms, see a doctor immediately.