How to relieve constipation
Constipation can be a very uncomfortable condition to endure whether you are an adult or a child and if not addressed promptly, can lead to hemorrhoids or anal fissures.
Discussing this problem is not the most exciting of posts for me to write, and especially for you to read, but nevertheless the problem of constipation can be an important part of our daily lives.
Stress can be a big part of this condition
Unfortunately, emotional stress can make constipation worse so it could be that the more you are concerned about constipation, the less likely you are to resolve the problem. This is because when you are stressed and worried, the body takes away blood from the digestive tract in order to send it to the muscles.
At the same time, stress causes the parasympathetic nervous system (which is the part that controls intestinal peristalis) to be less effective. Peristalsis is the movement that propels food particles through the digestive tract. Rhythmic waves of smooth muscle contractions perform this action.
One of the best ways to relieve both the stress and the constipation is regular exercise
In normal circumstances when we have a bowel movement without thinking too much about it, our internal anal sphincter works perfectly. It is that ring of smooth muscle that helps keep our anal sphincter closed most of the time but which helps to push out stools during defecation.
Our internal anal sphincter muscle is entirely involuntary. But when we fear constipation and consciously strain to eliminate stools, we can actually disrupt the natural activity of our internal anal sphincter muscle.
This is when constipation can become a real and ongoing problem
When our stools are healthy, we don't need to generate momentum for a bowel movement but when our stools are harder than they should be, it can be helpful to consciously contract our external anal sphincter muscle to get things moving, remembering to stop and relax once the process begins so that our internal anal sphincter muscle can contribute to the expulsion of stools.
Children and constipation
If you ever have a situation where a child becomes very constipated and is so upset that he or she is unable to have a bowel movement and is actually half way through the process, here is what you can do to help as a parent.
Put on a disposable glove, lubricate the area of the anal sphincter with a natural lubricant like coconut oil or something similar and if necessary, use a gloved finger to manually remove bits of stool. By using plenty of lubrication before you do this, you can greatly reduce any risk of creating an anal fissure.
Just like you do, so does the bowel sleep at night
After the bowel has had a good night's sleep, you need to get it stimulated again in the morning with eating, drinking and moving around. All being well, there should be a bowel movement roughly 30 minutes later.
In the old days, people would squat to have a bowel movement and this is the natural way though not very practical. If you can semi-squat while keeping your feet and knees some 12 inches apart, leaning forward and resting your elbows on your thighs, you may find it easier.
Don't hold your breath but relax your shoulders and breath normally. Use your stomach muscles to push backwards and forwards as a pump into your bottom. Some people find it helpful to put their arms up in the air above their heads. Finally, relax the back passage.
Try to prevent constipation with these tips
- Avoid all highly processed and refined foods because these are the main cause of chronic constipation.
- Change to a high fiber diet with plenty of fruit (including fresh or dried prunes and apricots) and especially lots of vegetables and bran as well as whole grain cereals, brown bread and rice.
- Check whether a medication that you are taking could be the culprit.
- While the new diet is taking effect, use a mild laxative or stool softener to ensure that any stools will be eliminated easily.
- Half a lime, squeezed into a glass of hot water with half a teaspoon of natural sea salt is an effective natural remedy or medicine for constipation.
- Linseed oil can also be useful where you take a teaspoon of linseed oil swallowed with water before each meal to give you both roughage and lubrication.
- At the same time you should be drinking at least 8 glasses of water each day.
- And of course keep up with the regular exercise.
Once you have resolved the problem of constipation, try to have a bowel movement every day so it becomes a habit - and never put off the urge to go to the bathroom.
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Constipation during pregnancy. (n.d.).
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Eating, diet, & nutrition for constipation. (2018).
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation/eating-diet-nutrition.(Accessed 4 July, 2021).
Trottier, M., et al. (2012). Treating constipation during pregnancy.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3418980/. (Accessed 4 July, 2021).