How Do I Choose the Best Way to Relieve Constipation?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Prunes are an effective natural laxative.
Prunes are an effective natural laxative.

Relieving constipation quickly and safely is important to maintaining good digestive health and easing patient discomfort. The best way to relieve constipation will depend on the underlying cause of the condition, since it may be the result of many different factors. Consider visiting a doctor if constipation is severe, lasts several days, or is accompanied by abdominal pain or bleeding. A doctor may recommend the best method for relieving constipation after a diagnosis is complete.

Psyllium husk can be used to relieve constipation.
Psyllium husk can be used to relieve constipation.

Over-the-counter laxatives are sometimes useful for acute constipation. These products generally work by stimulating the colon and softening stool to make bowel movements easier. Doctors frequently warn that overuse of laxatives can actually lead to desensitization, which may result in increased episodes of constipation. For constipation that occurs very rarely, however, natural or over-the-counter laxatives can provide fast relief.

Dietary fiber, like that found in beans, can help with constipation.
Dietary fiber, like that found in beans, can help with constipation.

If constipation is caused by dietary issues, some simple changes can lead to relief. Consider boosting fiber in the diet by eating high-fiber bread or cereal and beans. Fiber can also be added through supplements, such as psyllium husk. Certain fruits, such as bananas, prunes, and dates, can also help add bulk to stools and relieve constipation. In some cases, inadequate hydration may be a culprit, so be sure to drink lots of water every day.

Two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey mixed into a glass of water can help to relieve constipation.
Two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey mixed into a glass of water can help to relieve constipation.

In some cases, constipation may be caused by daily medications. Narcotic pain medications, some antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and calcium blockers can all be responsible for serious bouts of constipation. While these side effects may be treatable by adding more fiber and better hydration to a daily diet, in some cases the symptoms simply become too severe for natural management. Doctors may be able to reduce dosage or switch medication regimes if constipation cannot be relieved by easier methods.

Laxatives can help relieve constipation.
Laxatives can help relieve constipation.

Constipation can sometimes be caused by inadequate muscle tone in the pelvis and abdomen. In order to relieve constipation from this source, patients may need to find an exercise regime that stresses toning in the core of the body. Pilates, yoga, ballet, and weight training can all be excellent choices for core exercise. Even a simple 30-minute walk once a day can sometimes help relieve constipation due to muscular loss.

Eating fresh vegetables and fruit helps relieve constipation.
Eating fresh vegetables and fruit helps relieve constipation.

Some patients with chronic constipation accompanied by abdominal pain or bleeding may be suffering from an inflammatory bowel condition, such as colitis or irritable bowel syndrome. In these cases, dietary measures and exercise may simply not be enough to relieve constipation, though they may help reduce the frequency and intensity of flares. Doctors often prescribe antispasmodic drugs to help relieve the abdominal cramping that can occur with these conditions, as well as recommending a specific diet to help relieve constipation. If the condition is caused by a structural disorder in the bowels, surgery may sometimes be required to rectify constipation and prevent intestinal blocks.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a writer.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a writer.

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    • Prunes are an effective natural laxative.
      Prunes are an effective natural laxative.
    • Psyllium husk can be used to relieve constipation.
      Psyllium husk can be used to relieve constipation.
    • Dietary fiber, like that found in beans, can help with constipation.
      Dietary fiber, like that found in beans, can help with constipation.
    • Two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey mixed into a glass of water can help to relieve constipation.
      Two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey mixed into a glass of water can help to relieve constipation.
    • Laxatives can help relieve constipation.
      Laxatives can help relieve constipation.
    • Eating fresh vegetables and fruit helps relieve constipation.
      Eating fresh vegetables and fruit helps relieve constipation.
    • It is important to stay hydrated while dealing with constipation.
      It is important to stay hydrated while dealing with constipation.
    • Lifestyle changes may help relieve or prevent constipation.
      Lifestyle changes may help relieve or prevent constipation.
    • Occasional constipation is generally no cause for concern.
      Occasional constipation is generally no cause for concern.