How to get instant relief from constipation: 8 expert tips

Instant relief from constipation is possible by taking the right suppositories and laxatives. Here is all that you can try

Straining, passing hard stools and pooping less than three times a week are all symptoms of constipation. Constipation is a common problem that many people face, and it does not just affect physical health, but mental health too. So, people always find a need to look for ways to get instant relief from constipation.

The causes of constipation range from dehydration to lifestyle choices and other medical conditions. However, it is safe to say that constipation can have serious mental and physical effects on the body. Health Shots got in touch with Dr Abhijit B.R, Consultant – Medical Gastroenterology, who tells us ways to get instant relief from constipation.

What is constipation?

Constipation is a common issue characterised by difficulty in achieving smooth bowel movements, explains Dr Abhijit. Symptoms may include:

  • Excessive straining while passing stools
  • Presence of lumpy or hard stools
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation of stools
  • Having less than three spontaneous bowel movements per week
  • Need for manual maneuvers, such as digital evacuation or pelvic floor support to pass stools

What are the causes of constipation?

Constipation can be caused by various factors, and in many cases, it results from a combination of lifestyle, dietary, and medical issues. Dr Abhijit explains some common causes of constipation

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1. Dietary factors

Diets low in fibre can contribute to constipation, as fibre adds bulk to the stool and helps it move through the digestive tract. Inadequate fluid intake is another reason. Insufficient hydration can make stools harder and more difficult to pass.

2. Lifestyle factors

A lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyles can slow down bowel movements. This can also result in constipation.

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3. Medical conditions

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is another cause of constipation. Constipation can be a symptom of IBS, a gastrointestinal disorder. Besides this, hormonal imbalances, hypothyroidism, poorly managed diabetes, pituitary abnormalities, electrolyte abnormalities etc. Neurological disorders or conditions affecting the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Spinal cord injury etc, can result in constipation.

A woman drinking water
Hydration helps keep constipation at bay. Image courtesy: Freepik

4. Medications

Some medications, including certain pain medications, antacids containing calcium or aluminium, and certain antispasmodic drugs, can cause constipation as a side effect.

5. Colon or rectal Issues

Conditions such as colorectal cancer, bowel obstructions, or strictures can lead to constipation.

6. Aging

Reduced bowel function happens with age. Bowel habits can change with age, and constipation may become more common in older adults.

Ways to get instant relief from constipation

1. Hydration

Drink warm water or herbal tea to soften stools. The heat from these beverages helps to break down solids, and will help you pass stool.

2. Fibre boost

Consume fibre-rich foods like prunes, figs, or bran. These also include oats, whole grain bread or cereal, whole wheat pasta, apples, bananas, broccoli, brown rice, peas and lentils, according to National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

3. Exercise

Physical activity stimulates bowel movements. You can try to do some exercises, or even Yoga. This will increase blood flow in you abdomen, and it will be easier to pass stool.

4. Laxatives

Over-the-counter options for short-term relief can include a lubricant laxative, such as mineral oil. You can also opt for an osmotic laxative such as milk of magnesia or lactulose. Besides this, you can take a laxative stimulant which you will get at any pharmacy. These push the intestines to release the stool, and can take upto 12 hours to show results.

5. Stool softeners

You can also opt for stool softeners. These basically add moisture to your stools, making it easier for them to pass. Try some of these natural stool softeners to fight constipation.

6. Enema

You can go for an enema as well. Here, a liquid will be used to push the stool out of the rectum. These make the stool soft, and, hence, easier to pass. These include soapsuds and tap water enemas.

Also Read: Seeds to dates: Best home remedies for constipation in children

7. Suppository

Rectal suppositories are sure to give you instant relief. Glycerin or bisacodyl suppositories are injected through the rectum and these help make the stool soft. This is only done in consultation with a health expert.

8. Squat

This will help you to not strain, and can give instant relief from constipation. Get your feet on on a footstool – or a squat stool – when you sit to pass stool.

“It’s crucial to tailor these treatments based on individual needs and consult with a healthcare professional if constipation persists or worsens. The information provided here serves as a general guide, and personalized advice from a healthcare provider is essential for effective management,” warns Dr Abhijit.

A woman with abdominal pain.
Constipation, if not treated, can lead to anal fissures. Image courtesy: Freepik

How to prevent constipation?

1. Behavioural changes

Bowels are most active following meals, making it an opportune time for bowel movements. Ignoring the body’s signals weakens them over time, emphasizing the importance of paying attention to these signals. Drinking a caffeine-containing beverage in the morning may aid in bowel movement.

2. Increasing fibre intake

The recommended dietary fibre intake is 20 to 35 grams per day. Many fruits and vegetables are rich in fibres and are effective in preventing and treating constipation.

3. Medical assistance

If constipation persists even after home treatments, seeking medical advice is important. Healthcare providers can offer further guidance and recommend appropriate interventions.