Constipation: 6 Ways to Keep Things Moving
Constipation is a common digestive problem that causes over 2 million physician office visits per year. Chances are you’ve experienced it at some point in your life. In general, you may be experiencing constipation if you’ve had less than three bowel movements in a week or have stools that are hard and dry.
Constipation can cause uncomfortable bloating, gas, and even pain. You may be tempted to reach for a box of laxatives to relieve your symptoms, but before you do, here are some tips for treating occasional constipation at home:
Drink more water
Your colon absorbs water from the food that passes through it. If you don’t drink enough water, your body will pull water from the colon to stay hydrated. This can make the stool you pass dry and hard to pass.
Drinking more water keeps your entire body hydrated, including your bowels. Some people find that carbonated water helps ease constipation faster than regular water.
Eat more fiber
Stool that sits in the digestive tract loses water content and becomes dry and difficult to pass. Dietary fiber adds bulk to your stool, making it easier to pass, and helps it pass through the digestive tract faster.
Most Americans eat much less than the recommended 20-38 grams of fiber per day. Upping your fiber intake with healthy foods like apples, bananas, beans, vegetables, and whole grains may help ease your symptoms.
But sometimes fiber isn’t the answer
As important as fiber is for good digestion, it’s not always the cure. If adding fiber causes more symptoms than it treats, stop adding more and talk to your doctor.
Make time to move your bowels
It may sound odd, but making time to eat breakfast, drink a cup of coffee, and relax at home before starting your day may help with constipation. The food and caffeine may prompt the urge to go and being at home in your own bathroom can help relax you enough to go before you start your busy day.
As uncomfortable as it can be to use a strange bathroom, don’t delay a bowel movement when you’re away from home. Waiting means the stool is sitting in your colon getting dryer and harder, and ultimately harder to pass.
Move your body
Lack of activity can cause constipation. Get moving on a regular basis to keep your bowels moving as well. Regular exercise helps keep all your body systems moving. The same recommendations for a healthy heart, at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, can help maintain your digestive system.
For most people, constipation is an occasional issue easily treated at home with diet and lifestyle changes. For others, it can be a painful, embarrassing, long-term issue.
If you’re experiencing constipation three times a week or more, notice blood in your stool, or are experiencing unexplained weight loss or severe pain, call for an appointment or request an appointment. We can help.