How can I get constipation relief?
There are some self-help measures that can help with constipation. This includes increasing the amount of fibre you eat and drinking enough fluids. This can help to relieve constipation and is good for your general health. Doing regular exercise can also be helpful. It doesn’t need to be too strenuous or vigorous – modest exercise can help ease constipation.
What medicines treat constipation?
A type of medicine called a laxative can help to relieve constipation if self-help steps haven’t worked. There are several types of laxatives that work in different ways.
A pharmacist or GP will usually recommend you start treatment with a bulk-forming laxative. These work by bulking up your poo and drawing in water. This stimulates your bowel muscles to move and push poo out. If you continue to have problems, you might need to try an osmotic laxative. This sort of laxative draws water into the bowel to soften your poo. If you find your poo is soft but you still find it difficult to have a bowel movement, you can try a stimulant laxative. These stimulate the muscles in your bowel to contract more often and with more force.
If laxatives are not reliving your constipation, talk to your GP to see if they can offer any other treatments.
What should I eat to prevent constipation?
Fibre is important for your digestive health. It helps to bulk up the poo in your large bowel and move it along your digestive tract more quickly, helping to prevent constipation. Fibre also makes your poo softer, which helps with this process. It's recommended that adults should have 30g of fibre a day.
Fibre is found in all types of fruit and vegetables, so aim to eat at least five portions a day.
Other good sources of fibre include:
- wholegrain cereals
- wholemeal bread
- wholegrain rice
- rolled oats or oat bran
- seeds, such as flax seeds
- pulses, such as peas and beans (though for some people, these can cause bloating)
It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids.
What else prevents constipation?
A sedentary lifestyle or not moving around enough can be linked to constipation, so it’s important that you try to exercise regularly. Make sure you are going to the toilet regularly when you need to go.
Constipation can be very uncomfortable and painful. But, it can be easily managed with a healthy diet and there are treatments available for severe constipation.