Constipation is an incredibly common problem.
Constipation affects around 20% of people in the United States, resulting in 8 million doctor visits per year. A lot of Americans, more than 4 million by some estimates, deal with constipation on a regular basis.
Women have constipation more often than men. This may have to do with the slower movement of food through a woman’s intestines, as well as with the effects of female hormones on the GI tract.
People may experience constipation due to the foods they eat or avoid, their lifestyle choices, the medications they take, or the medical conditions they have. For many, the cause of their chronic constipation is unknown. This is known as chronic idiopathic constipation.
Regardless of what constipation treatment you use, give yourself enough time to sit on the toilet when you need to go. Holding in the urge can make your constipation worse. Set aside a regular time of the day when you know you’ll be left undisturbed for several minutes.
Also, don’t ignore the problem. Untreated constipation can lead to real problems, such as hemorrhoids and tears in the skin around the anus (called fissures) that make you bleed. If you strain too hard, you might even cause part of your intestines to push out through the anus, a condition called rectal prolapse that can sometimes require surgery.
Constipation is characterized by the following symptoms :
- Fewer than three bowel movements per week
- Hard, dry, or lumpy stools
- Difficulty or pain when passing stools
- A feeling that not all stool has passed
Constipation can have a serious negative effect on quality of life, as well as on physical and mental health.
How can I fix constipation quickly?
The following quick treatments can help induce a bowel movement in a few hours.
- Take a fiber supplement.
- Eat a serving of high-fiber food.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Take a laxative stimulant.
- Take an osmotic.
- Try a lubricant laxative.
- Use a stool softener.
- Try an enema.
How do you push poop out when constipated?
Find the best way to sit on the toilet for you, with these simple pointers.
- Lean forward when you are sitting on the toilet with your hands resting on your thighs
- Make sure that your knees are bent and are higher than your hips (it may help to use a footstool if your toilet is high or you are not very tall)
- Make sure your feet are resting on the ground -(or on a footstool)
- Try to fill your lungs, breathing through your mouth to prevent straining and contracting your pelvic floor (diaphragmatic breathing)
- Bulge your tummy muscles forward as you take a deep breath in. ‘Brace’ your tummy to prevent it from bulging further forwards. Do not tighten your tummy.
- Relax your anal sphincter to open your bottom and let the stool out
- Use your deep breath to increase the pressure in your abdomen and push down towards your anus.
Only try this a maximum of 3 times. If it does not work, get up from the toilet and walk around. It may help to try having a warm/hot drink.
Other things you can do to relieve constipation include:
- Exercise regularly. Moving your body will keep your bowels moving, too.
- Adjust your toilet posture. It may be easier to poop if you squat, raise your legs, or lean back.
- Check your meds. Many prescription drugs can cause constipation. Ask your doctor if this might be the problem and if there’s an alternative.
- Biofeedback. Some people get constipated because they unconsciously clench their muscles when they try to poop. A therapist can help you train your pelvic floor muscles to relax.
- Massage. Massaging your own abdomen in a certain pattern can help encourage bowel movements.
- Enemas. You can irrigate your colon with either tap water or an over-the-counter preparation to soften and flush out the contents.
- Suppositories. Some over-the-counter constipation medications are meant to be inserted directly into the rectum. They typically work faster than laxatives you take by mouth.
- Prebiotics and probiotics. You may have digestive issues, including constipation, because of an imbalance in the bacteria that live naturally in your intestines. Supplements or foods containing prebiotics, like bananas and oatmeal, and probiotics, like yogurt and fermented foods, may help.
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In addition to the above guidance, also consider the following each day:
- Don’t put off going to the toilet when you feel the urge as delaying a bowel movement can contribute to constipation.
- Allow yourself plenty of time to sit on the toilet; a good time for this maybe after breakfast or lunch, when your bowels are most active.
- Make sure you sit on the toilet properly (see diagram).
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep your body well hydrated – aim for 1.5 to 2 litres of fluid a day, or more in hot weather or if you are exercising.
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