Constipation: Causes, Symptoms, and Home Remedies

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Constipation is a common condition which is faced by people of all ages from little kids to adults. The inability to completely empty the bowels or when it becomes difficult to pass the stool is known as constipation. It is known as Vibandha in Ayurveda. The frequency of bowl movement decreases to less than 3 per week during constipation. The stool is often dry and hard. This problem is due to an improper lifestyle and poor eating habits. Constipation can lead to further problems such as fissures, hemorrhoid, fecal impaction, lack of appetite and indigestion if not treated.

Causes

The main cause of constipation is incorrect diet, inactive lifestyle and poor bowel evacuation routine. Not eating a healthy diet with enough fiber and fluids can result in indigestion of food, which eventually leads to constipation. Foods that are oily, spicy and junk foods can easily cause acidity and bloating, and can result in constipation. Irregular eating habits can also cause constipation. A regular eating schedule should be followed for a regular bowel movement. Skipping of breakfast or any meal is not advisable. Some medicines have constipation as side effect. Some of the medications like antidepressant, diuretics, antihistamines, and opioids can cause this condition. Even calcium and iron supplements can have constipation as one of the side effects. Some of the medical conditions like hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, hypercalcemia, kidney disease, diabetes mellitus and cystic fibrosis can lead to this uncomfortable condition.

Symptoms

  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Hard stools
  • Straining with bowel movements
  • Pain during bowel movements

Home Remedies

There are some easy and effective home remedies that can help relieve and prevent constipation. With some minor changes to your lifestyle and diet habits, you can overcome this problem.

  • Drink more Water: Drink at least 7-8 glasses of water every day, preferably warm water early morning and during winters. Try avoiding caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which may dehydrate your body by frequent urination. Instead try drinking lemon tea and green tea.
  • Increase fiber intake: One of the best ways to add fiber to your diet is through fruits and vegetables. Remember to take five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. On an average a woman needs around 25 grams of fiber a day, and a man needs around 30-35 grams of fiber. Lentils, oats, flax seeds, chia seeds are high in fiber. Try including vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, carrots, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and green beans. You can also include dark green leafy vegetables such as mustard, kale, beet greens, and collard. Increase fluid by adding soup to your daily diet. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts and pecans have more fiber than other nuts. Choose whole grains such as wheat, brown rice, barley, rye, quinoa, corn. Avoid refined foods like white flour, bread, pasta, pizza, white rice, etc.
  • Papaya: Papaya contains an enzyme called papain that helps in digestion. It is also high in fiber and water content, which helps to prevent constipation. Papaya juice or ripened papaya can be taken for improved bowel movement. Papaya is believed to be harmful during pregnancy.
  • Prunes: Prunes has high amount of fiber. They contain a natural laxative sorbitol, which naturally loosens stool and helps relieve constipation. Recommended dosage is about 50 grams of prunes twice a day. Prunes start working within hours of consumption, so do not consume more than advised, else you may suffer diarrhea.
  • Figs: Fig is also one of the fruit that is loaded with fiber and has a natural laxative. Fig can be consumed fresh or dried to help relieve constipation and it stimulates good digestion. You can consume 2-3 fresh figs daily. Alternatively, try soaking 3-4 dried figs in water overnight. Eat them first in the morning and drink the water too. This will not only help to treat constipation but also increase your hemoglobin levels.
  • Castor Oil: Castor oil can help stimulate your intestines when you are constipated. It will also grease your bowels for easy bowel movement. Castor oil works quickly so it is best to take it during the day. It is considered safe to consume but only in recommended dosage, though it is not advisable for pregnant women and kids under the age of 12. Do not take more than a tablespoon to treat constipation. Castor oil has a strong smell and taste, and to hide it, put the castor oil in fridge for at least an hour to cool it. And mix it into a full glass of water or juice.
  • Exercise: Sedentary lifestyle can definitely effect your digestion and can cause constipation. So, try to stay active by at least exercising for about 20-25 minutes daily. Exercise may include, walking, jogging, yoga, swimming, biking. Get adequate exercise at least 3-4 times a week.

Constipation is very uncomfortable and needs to be treated. Try these remedies and if the problem still persists, try talking to your doctor to identify the main cause of the problem.