Constipation remedies such as taking fiber supplements, eating high-fiber foods, and colon massages can get things moving. Other treatments may include sedatives, suppositories, and enemas.
What is constipation?
Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week or having hard or difficult bowel movements. This leads to excessive stress and time spent on the toilet.
The causes of constipation vary, and it is often seen as a symptom of an underlying problem rather than a condition. Some causes of constipation can be dehydration or eating foods that are very low in fiber. In other, more serious cases, constipation can be caused by stress, hormonal changes, spinal cord injury, muscle problems, cancer, or structural problems affecting the digestive system.
According to a 2014 study, the average total intestinal transit time is 10-73 hours. But exercise, eating habits, age, gender, and health can affect the number of bowel movements you have on any given day. There is no exact number of bowel movements you should have, but fewer than three bowel movements per week can be dangerous.
Read more about how to relieve short- and long-term constipation and when to see a doctor.
Tips for instant relief from constipation
If you are constipated, the following quick remedies can help stimulate a bowel movement within hours.
Take a fiber supplement
If the cause of constipation is a low-fiber diet, fiber supplements that stimulate bowel movements are readily available and effective. These work by increasing stool volume. The intestines help remove stool from the body.
You can buy fiber supplements in stores or online. Here are some common things:
Calcium Polycarbophil (Fibercon)
Psyllium (Metamucil, Conseal)
Eat foods that relieve constipation
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), a sourceTrusted Source, eating foods high in fiber can help relieve constipation.
High-fiber foods can include:
Whole grain bread or cereal
fibrous fruits such as apples and bananas
Fibrous vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and leafy greens
Beans and lentils
Nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, and almonds
Make sure to drink plenty of water with these meals, as this will help move the stool through your system.
In addition, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that can make constipation worse, such as:
Potato chips and other low-fiber snacks
Ready meals such as canned and frozen meals
Fast food products
and processed foods, such as some frozen meals, deli meats, and sausages
Drink a glass of water
Proper hydration is essential for normal bowel movements. Researchers recommend drinking about 1.8 liters, or 7 to 8 ounces, of clear fluids per day. The exact amount you need depends on your size, gender, and whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are constipated and do not drink enough water, drinking a glass of water or other clear liquid can stimulate a bowel movement.