The proverbial ‘constipated face’ is not funny anymore when you actually get to the business and aren’t able to pass stools no matter how hard you try. Although constipation is not a life-threatening problem as such, it still puts you through a lot of inconvenience.
However, thanks to our natural remedies for constipation, there are various methods with which you can rid yourself of severe constipation right in the comfort of your home. And if taken care in the right way on a long-term basis, you can put a full stop to even chronic constipation. For that relief from constipation that you are yearning for, I suggest you begin with investigating what is constipation in the first place and then moving over to what is causing this ordeal in your body.
Like all other bodily problems in human beings, the inconvenience that comes with constipation is purely subjective and each one has their own definition of it. Nevertheless, when it comes to an objective medical definition, constipation is difficultly in passing stools or infrequent (precisely, less than 3 times in 7 days) passage of stools. So, irrespective of your ‘usual’ bowel habits, if you tend to poop less than 3 times a week, then you, medically speaking, are constipated.
However, if you are seeking for a broader speculation (outside the limitation of medical jargon) over what constipation is; then noticeable infrequency in your normal bowel movement or change in usual consistency (towards the drier side) to the extent of creating pain and inconvenience while passing stools can be called constipation. In a way, to define what constipation means to you, it is important for you to know what ‘normal/usual’ is for you.
Now that you have a fair idea of the symptoms of constipation, try finding out what causes constipation in general. Here are the most common factors that could be contributing to your colorectal discomfort.
The food you consume quite literally travels a long way from your mouth and exits from the other end of the gastrointestinal tract –the anus. The time it spends during the due course of its journey along the tract is called the Transit Time. For various reasons, under unusual circumstances, the food sometimes spends a longer transit time.
While it is in the gastrointestinal tract, there is constant absorption of water from food that converts liquid food into more solid stools. So, the longerthe transit time, the harder it gets. Ultimately, your rectal muscles that help in pushing the poop out from the anus find it difficult if it is too hard in consistency.
IBS is one of the major reasons you could be experiencing constipation. This is a large intestine-related disorder that is caused due to multiple reasons including intestinal muscular contractions, nervous system abnormalities, and infection or inflammation in the digestive system. If you experience both constipation and diarrhoea one after the other and pass mucus along with stools, they could all be symptoms of IBS (constipation being one of the major issues).
In general, there is no specific food that can be causative of constipation as such. However, when you consume high-fat (harmful fat) or processed food, you usually tend to pick up foods that undeniably lack fibre. Fibre, interestingly, is of nutritional importance – it neither boosts you with energy like the carbs, fats, and proteins, neither does it promote chemical well-being in your body.
Then why is fibre such an important element of your diet? Why does the nutritional policy of United States Department of Agriculture ask women to consume 25g and men 38g of dietary fibre every day to make theirs a healthy diet? This is because one of the most important ingredients that helps in the metabolic process called elimination is fibre. A diet that lacks sufficient fibre can cause a host of other ailments, constipation being the inevitable one.
As it is made clear right at the start that it is the increased absorption of water from digested food that causes constipation, it goes without saying that dehydration could jolly well contribute to constipation. When there is enough water in the system, precisely the GI tract, there is less absorption of water from the food you consume. This way, your stools remain sufficiently moist and find no difficulty in passing out of the anus.
Physical activity not only physiologically takes care of your metabolism and digestive efficiency, it also helps in physical movement of food along the alimentary canal. The peristaltic movement of food is aided by the movement of abdominal and rectal muscles, and when these muscles aren’t moved/exercised appropriately, it could lead to a sluggish movement of food along the gut, thereby causing constipation.
Laxatives causing constipation – doesn’t that sound counter-intuitive? Yes, it does. Laxatives are commonly used to promote stool passage. However, an overdose of these laxatives, deliberately or unknowingly, can lead to impaired function of bowels and improper stool motility. What should have caused motility now inhibits the movements and can lead to severe colonic disorders if the abuse isn’t stopped immediately.
Pain relievers rid you of pain even sometimes just by looking at them. Exaggeration apart, they really are helpful in times of intolerable pain. However, the ugly side of them is the constipation they might lead to as an after-effect. Constipation caused by pain killers is termed Opioid-Induced Constipation and occurs because these opioids alter the peristaltic movement of food in the gut.
Also, they make the intestines go partially numb, which leads to seizure of intestinal activities, causing constipation. Other medications that lead to similar repercussions are calcium and iron supplements, certain anti-depressants, anti-hypertensive medicines, and medications prescribed for neurological and psychiatric problems. If you have started to feel constipated after your doctor has put you on some specific medicines, check with them if that could be causing the problem.
Depression and constipation being related to each other – sounds impossible,doesn’t it? Not really! Do you remember the urge to poop or that strange butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling when you are nervous just before giving a seminar or writing an exam? Yes, this is because the gut and your brain share what is called a gut-brain axis.
This makes it clear that what happens in the brain has the capacity to influence the gut and vice-versa. Low serotonin levels causing depression can also affect the gut and the muscular movements in the gut. Stress and chronic depression have been hence proved to cause constipation.
What is constipation? Check. What are the signs of constipation? Check. Causes of constipation – check. All that is now left is to find out the home remedies to treat this problem naturally. Here are some remedies that you will find are good for immediate constipation relief.
Fibre, fibre, fibre. This is the go-to home remedy for quick relief from constipation. If you suffer from constipation frequently, make sure you include lots of fibre-rich foods to enrich your gastric functioning. Fibre goes out of the system without being digested. This is why the bulk of your poop is formed significantly by fibre.
Yes, you heard it right.You quite literally have to move your butt if you are vexed with that persistent feeling of wanting to ‘go’. Apart from the fact that exercising for at least 45 minutes every day is unavoidably essential to prevent metabolic problems including constipation, there are some exercises that you can do for immediate solace from constipation.
If the body is sufficiently hydrated, the absorption rate of water from stools by the body reduces. This is exactly why you should stay hydrated. Apart from drinking plenty of purified water, make sure you drink other fluids like coconut water, fresh juices, and herbal teas. These will not only relieve you from constipation, but the anti-oxidant rich juices and teas also bestow a host of other benefits to your body, skin, and well-being.
Constipation in adults, in a way, is lot more tolerable because adults are self-sufficient and can take care of themselves in case of such discomforts. However, when your little toddler looks unsettled and restless, you can’t even identify what could be bothering them. Generally, one of the major reasons for your toddler’s restlessness can be attributed to gastric troubles.
Although they cannot articulate that it is constipation creating the discomfort, there is a simple way you mothers can make out if that is the root cause of your baby’s ill health. If you find your baby to be pooping hard, lumpy, and dark-coloured stools, it could mean they are constipated. You could try implementing these simple remedies at home to help your toddler defecate without pain or obstruction.
1. Castor Oil
Castor oil works equally well for children. However, see to it that you give them not more than 15 ml and that too only if their age is above six years. If your baby is very young, external application of castor oil should do the trick.Gently apply a spoonful of castor oil on your child’s anus. This is as effective as ingesting it and you would have the added benefit of not worrying about the side effects of consuming this natural laxative.
2. Prune Juice
If your toddler has started eating solid foods, you could give them some prune juice as a remedy for constipation. Prune juice consists of a naturally-occurring sugar called sorbitol. This remains undigested and is eliminated out of the body as it is. The sorbitol in prune juice will help your baby flush the faeces out of the body. You could give your baby prune juice along with the baby food mix that you feed them with. Start with low amounts and monitor accordingly. However, if your baby is still being breast fed, refrain from giving them prune juice because a sudden change in food habits might worsen the situation.
3. Fluids For Baby Constipation
Try giving them small amounts of water and see if it is making any difference in their bowel movements. Since you would be feeding your babies with milk anyway, make sure you continue doing that. Drastic alterations in baby’s diet might adversely affect the bowel movements further. Also, if you haven’t changed any feeding patterns and your baby still shows signs of constipation, check if you have been eating any different. Lactating mothers should be as careful with their diet as with their baby’s.
4. Physical Stimulation
Just like how adults are suggested to exercise to stimulate bowel movements, this technique works for babies too.
Constipation appears to be a petty gastric issue for an onlooker but can take a serious toll on the person suffering. This time you find it impossible to ‘go’, you know what is to be done, don’t you? And if it is your tot’s turn for the ordeal, make sure you follow these home remedies but also see to it that you implement them only after your paediatrician’s approval. Do not forget, however, that making the right lifestyle choice is by far the best home remedy for a bunch of health issues, including constipation.