IBS has several uncomfortable physical symptoms, one of which is constipation. 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—in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans—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 into your diet by eating foods containing fiber or with the help of a supplement. The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) recommends eating fiber that contains psyllium over bran.
While it can relieve constipation, fiber in sudden, large amounts 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 it. Make sure you drink plenty of water and check your food labels. The daily recommended fiber intake is as follows: 38 grams for men 50 years or younger, 30 grams for men 51 years or older, 25 grams for women 50 years or younger, and 21 grams for women 51 years or older.
If changing your diet doesn’t provide relief, try taking a fiber supplement. Make sure to always check with your doctor before starting any supplements.
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 of time, but can be very helpful in the short term. Ask your doctor which laxative is right for you, and only use them when truly necessary.
When other options have failed, talk to your doctor about prescription medications to treat your constipation. A few drugs on the market are designed to relieve constipation.
Dulcolax is a stimulant laxative. 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’s possible to become dependent on stimulant laxatives and to lose normal bowel activity.
Amitiza is approved for treating constipation of IBS only in women. This drug is recommended for people who suffer from chronic constipation associated with IBS. It works by increasing the amount of fluid secreted into your intestine. This softens the stool, making it easier to pass. Make sure you follow dosages and your doctor’s instructions carefully.
This relatively new drug is also recommended for people who suffer from chronic constipation associated with IBS. This medication works by increasing the fluid secretion in the intestine so stools can pass more easily. It is not recommended for children under age 17.
Alternative medicine may provide you with some relief from constipation. Although it has not been definitely proven to be effective, acupuncture may reduce some of the pain associated with your condition. You might also try yoga, massage, and meditation. Again, these have not been proven to help, but there is no harm in trying them. At the very least, they may reduce your stress.
You might also try eating probiotics. These are bacteria and yeasts that naturally live in your intestines and help you to process food. It’s possible that you are lacking the right combination of these organisms. In this case, eating yogurt with active cultures may provide some relief from gas and bloating.