Normal bowel movements can range from three times a day to three times a week. If it occurs less than that, you may be constipated. Fortunately, there are a number of home remedies for constipation that may work for you.
First, the basics: Constipation means you have trouble passing a bowel or that you strain when doing so. Other symptoms: feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and sluggish.
Constipation is a common problem that usually lasts a short time and is not serious. But if it lingers for some time, try the following home remedies for constipation.
In most cases, home remedies for constipation include lifestyle modifications. For example:
- Increase your daily fluid intake by drinking between eight and 10 glasses of water or non-caffeinated beverages.
- Add more fiber to your diet, such as beans, fruits, vegetables, or grains.
- Also, adopt a regular exercise practice—at least, for example, a 10- to 20-minute brisk walk. These posts may help you get started: “Benefits of Exercise: Good Medicine for the Body and Mind” and “How to Get Motivated to Exercise.”
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If lifestyle changes do not help, your doctor may recommend using laxatives or enemas for a short period of time. Most treatments for occasional constipation fall into one of four groups:
- Bulk or fiber agents (Metamucil, Citrucel, Konsyl, Serutan, Fibercon, and Benefiber) serve to hold water in the intestines and make stools softer, thereby making them easier to pass. These have been effective at relieving constipation. Patients looking for home remedies for constipation often turn to bulk laxatives, which requires that you drink at least eight glasses of fluid (water, juice, milk, coffee or tea) per day to avoid side effects.
- Osmotic laxatives (Milk of Magnesia, lactulose, MiraLax, and sorbitol) work by causing the intestines to secrete water into the colon, which can help keep the stool soft and moving through the intestine. These laxatives also require that the patient drink eight glasses of fluid a day.
- Stool softeners (Colace and Surfak) provide moisture to the stool and prevent dehydration.
- Stimulants (Correctol, Dulcolax, Purge, and Senokot) cause muscle contractions in the intestines to help move the stool through more quickly. Long-term use of these stimulants is not recommended.
Originally published in May 2016 and updated.