Today’s post is about acute constipation and what you can do at home! This might be an awkward and embarrassing topic, but your bowel health is very important. You are not alone! Anyone who hasn’t done the deed in a couple days feels the pain, literally.
The definition of acute constipation is a change in your bowel habits. This means that normally, you can have regular bowel movements, but all of sudden, that changes. You should ask: Do you get constipated when you go from a day schedule to a night schedule or a change in your daily schedule? How about when you travel? Nothing ruins a trip more than constipation.
First things first, do NOT be shy to have a bowel movement. “Holding it in” in new situations, can lead to worsening constipation, so It’s like Ke$ha said, “wake up in the morning feeling like poop daddy.”
Now, let’s address ways to induce bowel movements and the data behind them.
Exercise: Although we don’t have definitive proof that exercise promotes good bowel habits, we certainly believe that it can help. We know for sure that bed bound individuals have a higher likelihood of constipation. Exercise!
Water intake: As it turns out, unless you are clinically dehydrated, large volumes of water do not improve having bowel movements. Adding water is fine, but drinking the classic 8 glasses a day has not been shown to be helpful. In fact, studies show that constipated people often drink similar amounts as people with regular bowel movements.
Fiber: IBS-C and chronic constipation, more than 70% of patients were symptom free after fiber supplementation. However, fiber intake in other types of constipation can be less helpful.
Gastrocolic reflex: When you eat, you trigger contractions and you poop. So, match your bowel evacuation with your intake.
Other triggers: Hot foods, caffeinated substances, and just opening your eyes can stimulate your colon to evacuate.
Squatty potty: The squatting position has shown less straining compared to sitting. There aren’t a lot of great studies that prove this; but honestly there is no harm in using a stool!
OMM: OMM stands for Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine and is a form of medicine that uses the hands and the body mechanics to heal. OMM offers maneuvers that can easily be performed on yourself or someone else! My favorite technique for constipation that I perform on my friends is the colonic stimulation. It’s not as gross as it sounds!
Many subpar studies exist on this technique showing improvements in straining, number of bowel movements and overall improvement in discomfort. Here’s a link to a video on how to perform the maneuver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I12ZHLaMJbM. Below is a picture of the maneuver. Essentially, you are milking out the stool.
This technique is very safe! The only time you can’t use it, is for small bowel obstruction, which causes abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and no bowel movements or gas. You should seek medical attention for this disorder.
If all these things fail you, you can try over-the-counter medications! I’ll be coming out with a review of agents and when to use them in another post!