How do I Choose the Best Constipation Treatment?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Anyone suffering from severe constipation should see a doctor for best treatment. Constipation can be caused by a variety of things including certain medications or medical conditions, and it’s a good idea to have a medical examination to rule these things out. It’s certainly true the condition may result from benign causes, and when this is the case, there are some general recommendations for constipation treatment that are effective.

Prunes are excellent natural laxatives.
Prunes are excellent natural laxatives.

Some of the main causes of constipation in healthy people who are not taking medications that cause constipation include low levels of fiber in the diet and insufficient water intake. Addressing these problems may include some lifestyle changes, and they don’t necessarily work immediately. To address the discomfort of this condition, some people want a constipation treatment that will help fix the problem right away, and while there are such treatments, people need to be cautioned that overuse of them may be medically problematic or result in dependency.

Dietary fiber, like that found in beans, can help with constipation.
Dietary fiber, like that found in beans, can help with constipation.

The first acute constipation treatment that might be considered is an enema. This won’t work for everyone, especially if stool is not present in the lower part of the bowel; sometimes it is in the upper part and water or oil enemas will not reach it or stimulate the bowel. While enemas used to be commonly administered, doctors usually prefer patients to check with them if they plan to use one.

Two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey mixed into a glass of water can help to relieve constipation.
Two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey mixed into a glass of water can help to relieve constipation.

The enema is a fairly drastic constipation treatment and others turn to stool softeners or laxatives to induce bowel movements. There is risk, if people do this often, of having the bowels begin to depend on these, and this means constipation could worsen over time, and laxatives would always be required. For the very occasional use, this constipation treatment might make sense, but if people find they need this treatment all of the time, they are usually better helped by other methods.

Laxatives can help relieve constipation.
Laxatives can help relieve constipation.

These other methods generally go back to this issue of changing lifestyle in order to promote more regular bowel movements, and there are three basic changes that make up constipation treatment. The first of these is that people must drink eight to ten six-eight ounce (.177-.237 liter) glasses of water a day. This extra liquid is useful in softening bowel movements and helping to promote greater regularity. Many people get nowhere near this amount of liquids on a daily basis.

Constipation can be prevented by increasing fluid intake.
Constipation can be prevented by increasing fluid intake.

The second part of constipation treatment is to eat a high fiber diet. Diets should be rich in fruit, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Should people be unable to consume enough fiber through diet, they may want to consider supplementation with fiber powder or capsules. Fiber helps the stool absorb water, making it much easier to pass.

Many doctors now recommend that regular exercise is equally important in constipation treatment. Even a 20-30 minute walk a day can help bowel movements move a little more quickly. This demand on the body keeps the bowel active and may greatly minimize bouts of constipation.

A lack of fiber in one's diet may lead to constipation.
A lack of fiber in one's diet may lead to constipation.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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