Constipation is so common that it doesn’t even seem like a real disease to some people. Chronic constipation is comparatively less common and for most of them, minor constipation is an everyday thing.
There are small lifestyle changes that can cause constipation such as poor diet, stress, no physical activity and others. These lifestyle changes can impact your health positively by strengthening the digestive system. In case of chronic constipation, medicine is required; otherwise, casual constipation goes away on its own.
Read the following to find out what can you do to ease the symptoms of chronic constipation.
Make small changes in your routine
The small changes in your everyday life can improve the digestion of food. Usually, lack of physical activity and bad diet are responsible for constipation to hit a person. So it is better to start by making a workout routine for you, along with high fiber food intake.
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If you are planning to make a huge lifestyle change, make it gradual and not once. It is difficult to run such a plan in the longer run. Instead, starting from small steps, leading to a bigger destination sounds better to follow.
You can do the followings.
- Set your eating time and follow it every day.
- Make a habit of drinking water right after waking up.
- Eat bran bread or cereal for breakfast.
- Prefer physical activity i.e. taking stairs instead of lift or parking at the end of the lot to walk all the way till entrance.
- Walk for 15-20 minutes during your lunch break after eating.
- Add high fiber food items to your diet i.e. legumes.
- Eat fibrous fruits as snacks.
- Substitute white bread with bran bread and white rice with brown rice.
- Take at least 6 hours of sleep every night.
- When you feel a fuller bladder, rush to the bathroom and never hold it.
- Keep your water bottle with you to sip water every now and then.
- Work out, run, walk or do yoga regularly.
Try a fiber supplement
Fiber supplements as the name indicates are the pills that help to restore the body’s deficient fiber. They are also available as bulk-forming agents. Using such a supplement is easy. You can take them just like a multivitamin or nootropic supplement.
Not just constipation but fiber supplements have various other benefits too. For example, they help to maintain healthy cholesterol and the blood sugar remains intact. They also help the beneficial microflora of the gut to increase in number, ensuring a better digestion.
Some example of these supplements is as follows.
- Polycarbophil (FiberCon)
- Inulin (Fiber Choice)
- Wheat dextrin (Benefiber)
- Methylcellulose (Citrucel)
You have to take plenty of water with any of the fiber supplement that you are using. If you would not take enough water, it may make constipation worse.
Increase the dietary fiber
The easiest way to ease the chronic constipation is by eating more fiber. Using the supplements is one thing but it is better to switch the daily food products with healthier alternatives.
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Dietary fiber is a combination of complex carbohydrates. Some of the examples are nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. Remember meat is a source of protein but it doesn’t have any fiber it. Adding up the fiber means more fruits, vegetables, and seeds but not proteins.
Try the following foods for better digestion.
- Whole-wheat products
- Bran bread and bran flakes
- Shredded Wheat
- Vegetables i.e. broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, carrots etc.
- Fruits i.e. berries, pears, apples, figs, bananas, oranges, prunes etc.
Along with all this, remember to take enough water to keep your body hydrated. Drink at least 2-3 liters of water daily along with better diet choices.
What if you are suffering from chronic constipation?
In case you are already suffering from chronic constipation and don’t want to go to the doctor, there are a few things that may help you. Try the following.
Take a laxative
Laxatives are helpful if you are only planning to use it once. Most of the times laxatives help in chronic constipation but they might not always help. Certain types of laxatives show serious side effects such as dehydration, diarrhea or electrolyte imbalances.
If there is a one-time situation of getting severe constipation which is not going away, try taking one tablet of any laxative. Some of the laxatives are more potent than the rest. Try to use a mild to moderate formula. Here are more details on which laxative you can use for chronic constipation.
Stool softeners are a different type of laxative that adds the water to the stool. This added water makes the stool softer and it is easy to pass it out. Like stimulants, it may not start right away but takes a few days to start working.
Stool softeners are not really a true medicine. Their function is more of a preventive nature, which makes them gentle as compared to the other types of laxatives.
Osmotic agents are a particular type of laxatives that retain the fluid inside the stool. Some of the chemical salts of osmotic laxatives are as follows.
- Sodium phosphates (Fleet Phospho-Soda)
- Polyethylene glycol PEG (Miralax)
- Magnesium preparations (Milk of Magnesia)
In case you are planning to use any of the up listed medicines, read the label and check the directions. Don’t take them if you are allergic to the salt or any ingredient in them. Taking an excessive dose may bring side effects such as cramps, diarrhea, dehydration, and loss of appetite.
Stimulants are the laxatives, which function by contracting the intestines. It helps to smooth the bowel movement. Some of the examples are;
- Senna (Senokot)
- Bisacodyl (Ex-Lax, Dulcolax)
Stimulant laxatives are the most aggressive type of medicines, which take minimum time to start working. It is not a sound idea to use them frequently as they are capable of bringing harsh side effects to you.
For preventing the laxative dependency, try to limit the use of laxatives.
It doesn’t only include stimulants but all types of laxatives to be controlled for the use.
The final thoughts
Living with chronic constipation is difficult. But if you work on the basis of life, it is easier to manage it. A high fiber diet, sufficient water intake and regular workout routine are only a few things that can help your bowel movement to be normal.
You can also take help from medicines such as stool softeners and laxatives when constipation becomes problematic for you. A visible difference takes time but starting from small steps for bigger goal is the right way to accomplish it.
For extreme constipated condition, don’t hesitate to seek emergency help.