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Overview of Constipation With Symptoms & Techniques to Treat Constipation at Home

Last Updated: Mar 14, 2022

What is Constipation?

If a person gets three bowel movements in a week time period, it is considered as a condition of constipation. This condition is characterised by an infrequent bowel movement. An individual faces hard stool and difficulty in expelling feces from rectum. It is caused when a person’s colon is absorbing too much water from the food.

This happens because of slower movements of the food in the digestive tract. As a result, the removal process of stool becomes a difficult and painful situation. It occurs due to change in lifestyle of a person and can be cured if the lifestyle is restored.

Chronic constipation is a condition in which a person even face difficulties in performing their daily tasks. The reason behind occurrence of it is difficult to find and might vary from one person to another.

Why does Constipation happen?

The basic reason why an individual experiences Constipation is a slow digestive tract. Yes, if your food moves slowly in your large intestine or colon it gets too dry and hard. This is because your large intestine absorbs moisture from the stool until it gets out.

So if the digestive tract is not able to push out the stool on time, it will become hard, which results in Constipation.

Summary: Key ground on which Constipation happens is less locomotion in the digestive tract. It slows the progress of the stool making it dry and hard for the colon to pass.

What are the Symptoms of Constipation?

It is a condition where a person is facing difficulties in removal of feces from the body and the signs and symptoms of constipation are as mentioned below:

  • Bowel movement which is less than 3 times in a week or fewer bowel movements as compared regular weeks time period movements.
  • During the process of passing stool straining like conditions
  • Loss of appetite and cramps in lower abdomen area
  • Facing lumpy, hard and small stool
  • Swollen belly or stomach aches
  • Nauseous and belly bloating feeling
  • Feeling in form of everything didn't come out and there is a blockage in rectum
  • A condition arises when to remove stool from rectum, it is mandatory to press abdomen area or use fingers.

What are the first signs of Constipation?

Initial signs that may help you identify the issues include:

  • Less than three bowel movements a week.
  • Difficult or painful to pass stool.
  • Dry, hard, and/or lumpy stool.
  • Bloating and nausea.
  • Stomach ache or cramps.
  • Feeling of unfinished bowels after a movement.
Summary: First signs of Constipation may include bloating, longer duration between bowel movements, hard stool, and pain during defecation.

What are the Causes of Constipation?

There are many possible causes behind occurrence of constipation in any person.Few of them are:

  • Blockage in the colon or rectum due to anal fissures
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Colon or rectal cancer
  • Narrowing of the colon
  • Rectum bulge like conditions
  • Certain neurological conditions that creates problems in nerve around the colon and rectum
  • In activeness
  • Not taking proper amount of fibres in diet
  • Stress
  • Extensive of laxatives
  • Administration of antacids containing calcium and aluminium
  • Issues in muscles involved in elimination like weakened pelvic muscles
  • Disease conditions like diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Hyperparathyroidism affecting hormone of the body

Other systemic diseases affecting organs and tissues or whole body are the causes that can be considered as behind the development of chronic constipation.

  • Being older with respect to age
  • Dehydration
  • Female gender
  • Not drinking enough water daily
  • Ignoring going to toilet
  • Increased intake of milk or other dairy products are also some factors that increase the chances of it.

Can Constipation go away on its own?

Constipation usually refers to irregular bowel movements. In most cases, it gets resolved spontaneously without any need for treatment or medical consultation. Such are the mild cases of irregular bowel movements, which may improve by the use of laxatives or over-the-counter medicines. Home remedies are also effective in such conditions.

Which foods cause Constipation?

Food plays a major role in the digestive process, they are the main components our body digests! While some are easy to digest, the remaining can be difficult to do so. Here is the list of food items that contribute to worsening or developing Constipation:

  • Alcohol
  • Gluten enriched products like wheat, barley, rye, spelt, Kamut, and triticale
  • Processed grains like white bread, white rice, and white pasta
  • Dairy products like milk, and cheese
  • Red meat
  • Deep-fried or fast foods
  • Caffeine
  • Undercooked, frozen, and processed foods
  • Chocolates

Effects of the food on each individual depending on their tolerance to the item, age, and status of the digestive tract.

Summary: Food products that are undercooked, hard to process for our body, or imbalance the water level often causes digestive issues like Constipation.

What causes female Constipation?

Apart from general reasons, here are some specific reason which makes Constipation more frequent in women than men:

  • Weak or uncoordinated pelvic muscles
  • High progesterone levels
  • Postmenopausal or pregnancy

These are common reasons behind high Constipation levels in women. Others may include hormonal imbalance during menstruation, lactation, etc. these are not common but can be experienced by women at one point in their life.

Summary: Common reason behind feminine Constipation includes hormonal imbalance and weakness in pelvic muscles, pregnancy, etc.

What causes sudden Constipation?

Sudden Constipation is generally associated with your daily life intake. If any of the following happened within the last 24hrs, then it can make you feel constipated and bloated:

  • Prolong dehydration
  • Consumption of low fibre foods
  • Used too many laxatives and enemas
  • Lack of exercise
  • Hold your bowls for a longer time
  • Experience stroke or a diabetic flare-up
  • Taken medication with compounds like aluminium, calcium, or iron
Summary: Sudden Constipation can happen due to many reasons. Some of them include sudden changes in water or food intake, medicines, or any serious medical condition.

What are the Prevention For Constipation?

A person diagnosed with constipation should follow these steps:

  • Beans, vegetables, fruits, whole grains like high-fiber foods should be included in daily diet plans.
  • Start your day with warm liquids such as warm water.
  • Increased intake of water and other forms of fluids.
  • Limit intake of foods which have low amounts of fiber such as meat, milk etc.
  • Improve physical activity and get regular exercise as this can increase muscles strength of intestine.
  • Reduce factor leading to stress
  • Stop ignoring urge of stool or poop.
  • After every meal, create a schedule for bowel movement
  • For ease of constipation, laxatives can be taken for a day or two."

What can I take every day to prevent Constipation?

If Constipation is frequent in your case, then you can add the foods mentioned below to your diet.

  • More intake of water
  • Yoghurt and kefir
  • Pulses
  • Clear soups
  • Wheat bran
  • Prunes
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Broccoli
  • Grapes
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberry
  • Kiwi
  • Whole wheat products like bread, pasta, etc.
  • Olive oil
  • Flaxseed oil
Summary: Food is the greatest source to eliminate Constipation. Foods that increase fibre, water, and natural oil in your diet are beneficial if you want to get rid of Constipation.

How to Diagnose Constipation?

Diagnosis of disease can be done by primarily conducting a physical examination, and understanding the medical history making clinician identify the type and cause of constipation. Healthcare professional will look after and inform patient about maintaining daily diet diary through which they can advise about intake of high –fiber foods.

By means of conducting blood tests of thyroid hormone and calcium, abdomen X-rays, liquid barium study to understand the anatomy of bowel and rectum, colonic motility and anorectal studies, defecography and magnetic resonance imaging defecography, medical professional can diagnose the severity of constipation for people who are not responding to treatment.

What is the Treatment of Constipation?

Treatment of any disease depends on its underlying cause and in case of it, it is important to identify whether it is acute or chronic constipation. Other factors needs to be considered before suggesting any treatment for constipation patients are recording their bowel movements, stool characteristics etc. For recurring constipation, doctors advice treatments like change in lifestyle by performing more exercise, drinking more water and eating more fiber.

Many treatment plans includes implementation of dietary fiber sources like fruits and vegetables, wheat or oat bran, polycarbophil, psyllium seed, synthetic methyl cellulose, lubricant laxatives such as mineral oils, emollient laxatives (stool softeners) like docusate, hyperosmolar laxatives such as lactulose, sorbitol, polyethylene glycol, over-the-counter like saline laxatives, stimulant laxatives, enemas, suppositories, combination products.

Should I go to urgent care for Constipation?

Constipation is a usual gastrointestinal abnormality that is accompanied by irregular bowel movements. It is not a serious concern for most cases as it gets better spontaneously with the use of some home remedies or over-the-counter medicines.

However certain conditions may require the need of urgent medical care and treatment of constipation is accompanied by serious symptoms including vomiting, bloating, bloody stool, and abdominal cramps or pain with severe intensity.

When should you be worried about Constipation?

It is advised to take immediate actions on Constipation when you experience initial signs only. Mention below a list of warming symptoms that includes the need for medical attention:

  • Blood in stool
  • Hard to pass the stool
  • More than three days of gap between bowel movements
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Unbearable abdominal pain
  • Stool vomit
Summary: Constipation is itself a sign to be worried about. It indicates that your bowel movements are not proper. So symptoms associated with the same also need immediate attention.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

The eligibility criteria in case of constipation are mainly associated with the cause and severity of the condition. If the problem arises due to any abnormality in the diet and lifestyle, such as intake of less fibrous as well as processed food items and leading a static life with fewer body movements and lack of physical activities or exercises, the treatment usually involves some dietary changes as well as lifestyle modifications.

Hence such cases do not need a consultation with a doctor and can be self-treated by the application of laxatives and over-the-counter medicines. However, the cases which are accompanied by severe symptoms such as vomiting, bloating, bloody stool, and abdominal cramps as well as chronic or prolonged persistence of the symptoms, need to get urgent medical consultation and prescribed treatment.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Constipation usually does not require prescribed medications and treatment in cases that are normal and with mild symptoms. In other ways, we can say that if the problem arises due to any abnormality in the diet and lifestyle, such as intake of less fibrous as well as processed food items and leading a static life with fewer body movements and lack of physical activities or exercises, the treatment usually involves some dietary changes as well as lifestyle modifications.

Hence such cases do not need a consultation with a doctor and can be self-treated by the application of laxatives and over-the-counter medicines.

How To Get Rid Of Constipation?

  • Drink warm beverages, more so in the morning
  • Add vegetables and fruits in your diet
  • Drink up to four more glasses full of water in a day, unless your doctor has limited fluid intake for some other reason
  • Have fibrous cereals
  • If you feel the need, take a mild stool softener or laxatives such as magnesium hydroxide. Don’t prolong laxative use for over two weeks without consulting your doctor. If the laxatives are overdone, then the symptoms may worsen.
  • Have a wholesome diet rich in fiber. Good fiber sources are vegetables, legumes, fruits and multi grain bread like bran.
  • Eat a well- balanced diet with plenty of fiber. Good sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain bread and cereal (especially bran).
  • Drink 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of water and other fluids a day (unless your doctor has you on a fluid-restricted diet). Fiber and water work together to keep you regular.
  • Avoid caffeine. It can be dehydrating.
  • Cut back on milk. Some people may need to avoid it because dairy products may be constipating for them.
  • Exercise regularly. Do something active for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.
  • Go to the bathroom when you feel the urge.

How long does it take to recover from Constipation?

The time duration for the recovery in most cases of constipation varies around a few days when the condition is not chronic or showing prolonged symptoms and gets away easily by the application of home remedies such as laxatives or over-the-counter medicines. However, it may take a time period of up to three weeks or more if certain severe symptoms are being shown and not getting controlled or managed easily.

How long can Constipation last in adults?

Constipation can last up to 3 days in adults. With each day the stool will get more rigid and difficult to pass. If it goes for more than 3 days, your body starts to act out. One may feel sick, feverish, etc. it is important to resolve the issue before this point as it can cause serious damage to the colon, anus, and whole digestive tract.

Summary: Constipation can last up to 3 days in an individual without causing any medical complications.

How can I permanently relieve Constipation?

For both chronic and acute Constipation, one needs to have a wholesome diet with high fibre, nourishment, and hydration. Apart from that, here are some other things that one can do to have a healthy bowel movement:

  • Indulge in light to moderate exercise every day
  • Biofeedback for pelvic muscles
  • Add stool softeners and laxatives ( consult your doctor first)
  • Add more natural probiotics
Summary: To keep away Constipation on permanent levels, one needs to follow an active fitness regime, alongside adequate hydration and a healthy diet.

What helps Constipation instantly?

Constipation can be instantly taken care of with the help of the following home remedies:

  • Consumption of ginger in the form of hot water or candy
  • Triphala tea or juice
  • Ghee and milk
  • Senna tea
  • Lemon water

Apart from that, you can follow the preventive methods as well as OTC (over-the-counter) medication that can be taken to relieve Constipation instantly.

Summary: Since Constipation is quite common, there are plenty of home remedies that can help you get rid of hard stool.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The post-treatment guidelines in case of constipation usually depend upon the methods of the treatment. If the treatment methods involve lifestyle changes and dietary modifications, the post-treatment guidelines to be followed include the implementation of physical activities and exercises such as yoga as a part of the daily routine, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, incorporation of fiber-rich foods in the diet, avoiding processed and junk foods and intake of plenty of fluid.

On the other hand, surgical treatment of constipation needs to follow precautionary measures such as proper rest and care, intake of prescribed medicines, and regular follow-up with the doctor.

What is the price of Constipation treatments in India?

The treatment cost for constipation in India includes the consultation fee of the physician or specialist, the cost for tests advised by the doctor, and the price of medications and laxatives prescribed. Combining all these expenses, it turns out to be an overall expense of Rs. 2000 approximately and even more.

What are the Home Remedies For Constipation?

For treating constipation, there are some other ways through which a person can deal without using medications as mentioned below:

  • Increasing fiber intake - A person experiencing constipation can handle it by adding 18g to 30g of fresh fruits, fortified cereals and vegetables in every day food intake.
  • Keep hydrated – drinking high amount of water can also give rid of it.

  • Addition of bulking agents like wheat bran can help in softening stools and making it easier to pass.
  • Performing regular exercise can help in regulating body processes including passing of stools.

  • Avoid ignoring stools – It is prevented or treated if a person allows the body's natural urge to pass the stool.
  • Use of homeopathic remedies like calcarea carbonica, nux vomica, silica bryonia and lycopodium are offered by many doctors for treating it.

Physical Exercises for the people suffering from Constipation:

Constipation is the condition of irregular bowel movements, mainly related to abnormal food habits as well as any abnormality in lifestyle. Hence in most cases, it may get better with an improvement or modifications in the food habits and lifestyle as well. It includes the implementation of physical activities and exercises as a part of the daily routine.

The main exercises to be preferred include walking on a regular basis for at least 10 to 15 minutes, many times a day. Brisk walking is also beneficial as body movement is a much-needed requirement in such conditions. Besides this, aerobic exercises including jogging, swimming, running, or swing dancing, are also preferred for people who are able to do them properly. Light exercises such as stretching and yoga also work well to ease the symptoms.

What is the Best Medication for Constipation?

It occurs when stool does not pass through easily and for resolving such issues medication like over-the-counter medication and other medication purchased on doctor’s prescription. Without consulting a doctor, it is not recommended to use any medication for constipation.

Fiber supplements like calcium polycarbophil, methylcellulose, fiber, psyllium, wheat dextrin can be prescribed for bulking stool and increase bowel movement. Magnesium citrate and hydroxide, and polyethylene glycol are examples of osmotic drugs that help in holding more fluid for stool. Stimulants like bisacodyl are used for squeezing the intestine and suppositories inserted into rectum provide ease in passing the stool.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of treatment in the condition of constipation basically depend upon the cause as well as the severity of the disease. In mild cases such as when the symptoms are mild and short-term, the treatment methods involve the application of home remedies as well as some lifestyle changes, or it may be managed or controlled by laxatives or over-the-counter medicines. These methods generally result in a relief of the symptoms as long as proper lifestyle measures and dietary changes are continuing to be followed.

However in some cases, if the reason involves a blockage in the gut as a result of an underlying systemic abnormality, it may not be treated permanently with these methods and symptoms will tend to reappear. Surgical methods are the only option in these cases for a complete cure.

What are the side effects of Constipation?

Constipation seems like a small issue at first but it can be very harmful to your body if not taken care of on time. So side effects of frequent or prolonged Constipation include:

  • Haemorrhoids
  • Anal fissure
  • Faecal impaction
  • Rectal prolapse
Summary: Common complications associated with Constipation include wear and tear in the intestine muscles, accumulation of hard stool, and abnormal rectum stretch.

What to eat in Constipation?

Food has an important link to irregular bowel movements as it is responsible for the digestion process being normal or abnormal. Several food items might play a role in the relief from such symptoms based on the concepts of stool softening, decrease of the gut transit time and increase in stool frequency. High fiber-rich foods are significant in such conditions.

Some of them include fresh fruits such as prunes, apple, pineapple, kiwi, citrus fruits, and pear, dry fruits such as figs, green and leafy vegetables like spinach, artichoke, and chicory, rhubarb, sweet potatoes, beans, peas, and lentils, seeds including chia seeds, flax seeds, cereals like whole grain, oat bran and kefir.

What not to eat in Constipation?

Constipation is a condition that commonly occurs due lack of physical activity and a static lifestyle. Food, as being linked to the digestion process, also affects the condition and may be responsible for its betterment or even worsening of the condition. Such food items are basically low in fiber content or high in salt content or may contain things like tannin, which aids in such discomforting conditions. Those include the following:

  • Alcohol.
  • Gluten-containing foods which include wheat, rye, barley, spelled, Kamut and triticale.
  • Processed foods including processed grains and products such as white bread, white rice, and white pasta.
  • Milk and dairy products including milk.
  • Red meat.
  • Fried as well as fast foods.
Summary: Constipation is a usual gastrointestinal abnormality that is accompanied by irregular bowel movements. Urgent medical care and treatment are necessary if it is accompanied by serious symptoms including vomiting, bloating, bloody stool, and abdominal cramps or pain with severe intensity. In normal conditions, it can be managed and controlled by physical activities and exercises such as yoga, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, incorporation of fiber-rich foods in the diet, avoiding processed and junk foods, and intake of plenty of fluid.

Should I keep eating if I'm constipated?

As surprising as it sounds, cutting down on food will not help you process your food any faster. In short, you should continue your daily food intake as per your time. However, some alterations need to be made in the next meal you take. Keep it enriched with fibre, easy to digest, consumables, it will help your colon to clean easily and fast.

Summary: Constipation refers to the hardening of stool in the colon area due to lack of moisture and less physical activity. Reasons behind Constipation are the less physical activity of the overall body. It makes the locomotion of the stool difficult which increases its duration in the large intestine. This results in a rigid stool which is hard for the colon to pass. The reasons can be different in males, females, and toddlers. Cause and treatment also vary on the basis of age, severity, and infestation of other medical conditions and treatments.


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Written ByDr. Akhilesh Singh Post Graduate Course In Diabetology,CCEBDM(DIABETOLOGY) & CCMH ( CARDIOLOGY)General Physician
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