Constipation can usually be treated by making some adjustments to your diet or lifestyle such as making sure that you eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fibre and regularly exercising to aid good digestion.
Occasionally constipation can become a chronic problem and can be linked to other bowel disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. If you suffer from constipation for more than three weeks, have blood in your stool, are suffering from pain or can feel a lump in your belly it is important to visit your GP as soon as possible.
By following the below methods, most people find that their constipation resolves without the need for any further treatment.
Lifestyle and Diet Changes
Most cases of constipation are caused by a lack of fibre and/or fluid in their diet, this can easily be rectified by eating a healthy balanced diet with the required amount of fibre from fruit, vegetables, wholemeal foods and cereals. It is also important to make sure you are well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, ideally water. Your should be aiming to drink 1.5 – 2 litres a day (or 6-8 glasses). Exercise is essential for a healthy bowel, exercise will stimulate the gut and ensure regular digestion. Click here to find out more about lifestyle, fluids and diet.
Keep to a Routine
It is helpful to set yourself a regular routine for visiting the toilet, at a time and a place where you are comfortable and don’t feel rushed. Feeling anxious and rushed can cause some people to hold on for longer than they should, which can cause impaction over a period of time. Eating at regular times will help to regulate your bowel patterns too.
Check Your Toilet Positioning
Make sure that you are sitting comfortable in an optimal position to allow gravity to help with the process. It can be useful to use a foot stool to keep your legs raised in the correct position. Take a look at the toilet positions guide for further help.
To relieve short term constipation quickly, there are some over-the-counter laxatives that you can purchase. There are a variety of laxatives available that act in different ways. You can get bulking laxatives such as Fybogel, which work in the same way as increasing fibre in the diet; osmotic laxatives, which work by softening the stool making it easier to pass, and stimulant laxatives such as senna, which encourages peristalsis and stimulates the gut to pass the stool. Make sure that you speak to your local pharmacist or GP about which type of laxative is best for you.