Constipation happens when you find it harder than usual to pass a bowel movement. It is usually not harmful and happens to everyone at some point in their life. If you don’t feel like using store-bought medication to relieve constipation, there are quite a few home remedies you can try.
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How to Relieve Constipation
Many people think they are constipated if they are not having a certain amount of bowel movements per day. In fact, the number of bowel movements you have varies from person to person. There is no need to worry if you are having three bowel movements a week or three a day, as long as you don’t feel uncomfortable.
RELATED: How Often Should I Have A Bowel Movement?
While you can purchase are over-the-counter medications for constipation relief, natural remedies can be just as effective. Simple changes — like eating more fiber and drinking plenty of water — can help treat occasional constipation. However, there are many other remedies that you can find around your home.
Home Remedies for Constipation
To treat tough bowel movements, many turn to homemade remedies for constipation instead of laxatives. Relief may be just around the corner in your home, so make sure to take a look before heading to the store.
For starters, be sure to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Constipation may be a sign that you need to eat more of these foods, which are high in fiber. Fiber helps to push stool through your digestive tract.
Always try to eat whole fruits and vegetables, which have more fiber than juices. For example, prunes are a great source of fiber, so be sure to keep a few handy around the kitchen. Adding beans to your diet is another great way to fight constipation, as they are packed with fiber.
Soybean oil, safflower oil, and vegetable oils also may help to lubricate your intestines, and they have other health benefits. Take two to three tablespoons of either oil per day until your constipation goes away. Be sure to cut back on butter or margarine on the days you take the oil to reduce excess fat in your diet.
If taking oil straight from the bottle is not for you, try mixing it with herbs and lemon juice to make a tasty salad dressing for the same effect. The lemon juice is not only for taste but also helps stimulate your digestive tract with citric acid. For best results, be sure to take the oil on an empty or near-empty stomach.
Simple changes like exercising more have been shown to reduce constipation. When you get up to move, so do your bowels. You don’t have to run a marathon; a simple walking exercise can improve your symptoms.
To start, make an effort to take a short walk each day. As you continue to exercise, deliberately increase the amount of time you spend walking until you are able to maintain a steady pace for 30 minutes.
It is also important to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day. Water is your best choice as it aids in digestion, helps maintain a healthy intestine, and is calorie-free. Stay away from beverages high in caffeine and alcohol content, which can cause dehydration, and avoid soft drinks and juices that are loaded with sugar.
When Constipation Is Serious
If your constipation does not go away, do not ignore it. Severe constipation symptoms, such as stomach pain, bloody stools, or unexplained weight loss may suggest other, more serious complications. Call your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
UPMC’s Digestive Disorders Center treats many diseases in the digestive tract with some of the nation’s leaders in the field. In addition, our physicians conduct numerous clinical trials to improve patient outcomes and care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit our website.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
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About Digestive Disorders
The UPMC Digestive Disorders Center cares for a wide range of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions and diseases, from diagnosis to treatment. Whether your digestive condition is common or complicated, our experts can help. Upon referral from your physician, we coordinate your testing and treatment. If you have a complicated condition, we can refer you to one of UPMC’s digestive health centers of excellence. Find a GI doctor near you.