If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SPY.com may receive an affiliate commission.
When it comes to the worst digestive issues, most people automatically think about the inability to keep food in the stomach. Problems of, let’s say, evacuation. However, constipation is a serious digestive problem that troubles countless people. The inability to pass stool isn’t accompanied by unexpected, time-dependent mad dashes to the toilet, but that doesn’t make constipation any more enjoyable. That’s why it’s important to know how to get rid of constipation. Everybody poops, and at some point in your life, you’ll need a little help evacuating your bowels.
The severity of constipation varies from person to person, as does the exact definition. Some people have a bowel movement every day like clockwork, while others have a more irregular bathroom schedule. When you find yourself unable to go, you may be in the early stages of constipation.
Defining symptoms of constipation include:
- Passing fewer than three stools in a single week
- Having particularly hard or lumpy stools that require uncomfortable straining to pass
- The general feeling of a blockage inside your digestive tract
- A feeling of not being able to fully empty your rectum
The most common cause of constipation is slow-moving stool that cannot be effectively eliminated from the digestive tract. This can be the result of a number of issues, including blockages in the colon or rectum, problems with the muscles and nerves that surround your digestive tract and whole-body medical conditions with an impact on hormone levels (some of which are important in the digestive process). Many people become more prone to constipation as they age, and there are a number of prescription medications that can cause severe constipation. For others, a poor diet may be to blame.
The good news is that there are plenty of effective methods for dealing with constipation. From prevention to constipation solutions, there’s no need to suffer through this truly uncomfortable condition. If you want to learn how to get rid of constipation for good, you’ll find 10 ways below. Keep reading to get rid of constipation and enjoy healthier, more regular bowel movements again.
1. Eat More Fiber
The amount of fiber in your diet may hold the key to healthy and regular bowel movements. Whether you’re already suffering from constipation or just looking to make sure you never do, getting more fiber in your diet is an important first step. Generally speaking, dietary fiber falls into two categories: soluble and insoluble.
Insoluble fiber, which is found in things like bran, vegetables and whole grains, adds bulk to stools, making them more easily passed through the digestive system. On the other hand, soluble fibers, which can be found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils, help with water absorption and lead to softer stools with improved consistency.
For dealing with constipation, start by eating more fruits or vegetables with fiber. Dates, figs, apples, spinach and sweet potatoes are all great options. Many professionals also recommend a non-fermentable, soluble fiber supplement. These supplements promote regularity by softening stools without uncomfortable gas production.
2. Drink More Coffee
For people who don’t drink coffee and those who only drink a moderate amount, increasing coffee intake may provide relief from constipation. Coffee works to stimulate digestive system muscles, resulting in the urge to use the bathroom. The popular beverage is also known to contain small amounts of soluble fiber, which may further aid in healthy stool production. However, for any coffee addicts out there, this tip won’t help. If you’re already drinking more than one cup a day, it’s unlikely that adding more coffee is going to help.
3. Stay Active
Even though exercise may have little to no effect on the frequency of your bathroom visits, regular exercise may actually help relieve some of the unpleasant symptoms of constipation, although this hasn’t been conclusively proven. That being said, more exercise is almost always good for your body, especially if you have been leading a very sedentary lifestyle. The best part is that the exercise doesn’t need to be high intensity. A pleasant walk, five minutes of skipping rope or a run around the park every day may be enough to help keep things regular.
4. Try an Herbal Laxative
Herbal laxatives, like Senna , are designed to provide gentle and predictable relief from constipation. These are available over the counter and work by speeding up bowel movements. They are usually administered orally and are a great short-term answer to dealing with constipation that’s already set in.
5. Stay Hydrated
Water plays an important role in keeping your digestive system moving in the right direction. If you aren’t drinking two liters of water a day, it’s certainly worth upping your intake, especially if you experience bouts of constipation. Dehydration leads to harder stools which are harder to pass, resulting in that all-too-familiar discomfort. If you’re suffering from constipation on the regular, you might also try drinking some sparkling water , as some professionals believe it may be more effective than still water in relieving the symptoms of constipation.
6. Take Your Grandmother’s Advice and Enjoy a Prune
Even if you have no idea how to get rid of constipation, you’ve probably heard that prunes can help keep you regular. If you’re after a natural and delicious way to fight constipation, look no further than nature’s natural constipation medicine — prunes. These tasty treats are full of a natural laxative, called sorbitol, along with a large amount of fiber, too. So, if you regularly suffer from constipation, it may pay to keep a pack of prunes or a bottle of prune juice on hand. However, eating prunes is not advised for sufferers of IBS as the sugars in the prunes may be more disruptive than beneficial.
7. Stick to Probiotic Foods and Supplements
When looking for supplements or foods that will help you get rid of constipation, be sure to consider a probiotic. Many sufferers of chronic constipation have an imbalance of bacteria inside their gut, so it only makes sense that addressing that bacterial imbalance can have a beneficial outcome. Increasing the intake of high probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut and pickles or adding a probiotic supplement to your diet can help the digestive system in a number of ways. For example, the production of lactic acid and short-chain fatty acids may help gut movement to make passing stool easier.
8. Get an OTC Laxative
If all else fails, it may be time to ask your doctor or pharmacist about a more effective laxative option. There are both over-the-counter and prescription laxatives available, and your health professional should be able to advise you on what is the best course of action to address your symptoms. Options include bulking agents and osmotic laxatives that increase your stool water content, stool softeners which soften stools and stimulants which act on the nerves to promote stool movement through the gut. Most OTC laxatives start to work quickly, so read the instructions carefully and make sure you don’t have any other important plans for the day.
9. Add Magnesium Citrate to Your Medicine Cabinet
If you can’t stand the taste of most laxatives, then try a liquid saline laxative. Magnesium citrate is another over-the-counter option for dealing with constipation. This solution works as an osmotic laxative by increasing the amount of water flowing into your intestines. This, in turn, helps to create softer stools that are easier to pass. It’s a great solution for occasional bouts of constipation and is much gentler than most traditional laxatives. These drinks are usually fruit-flavored and some products are carbonated. With a taste closer to sparkling water than laxatives, this is a great alternative to most OTC laxatives. You can find this product at your local drug store, or you can order a pack of two on Amazon.
10. Take Extreme Measures
If you’ve tried eating more fiber, probiotic supplements and OTC laxatives, then there is one more solution that’s extremely effective. First, we should note that if you are suffering from persistent constipation, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor. Your healthcare provider will be able to recommend the most effective remedy to your problem. They may also help you identify the source of your blockage, whether it’s a medication side effect or a more serious digestive problem. However, if you want to learn how to get rid of constipation fast, then you have to consider an enema.
An enema will help flush out blocked stool and stimulate bowel movements. These can be performed at home with warm water, but there are also enemas that contain a saline laxative formula that is all but guaranteed to move the mail, so to speak. Fleet is one of the most well-known enema brands, with an easy to insert tip and fast-acting saline solution. There’s no reason to be embarrassed buying an enema at your drug store, but you can also order them on Amazon for just a few dollars. For those who regularly suffer from constipation, it’s a good idea to keep a few of these products discreetly tucked away in your bathroom cabinet.