Constipation is a medical condition of the digestive system which causes an individual to form solid stool that is very painful and hard to get rid of. In very severe cases, the feces elimination can lead to severe bowel obstruction which is followed by bloatedness or feeling of fullness.

Constipation affects people of all ages and people can suffer from it at any time of their lifetime and it is especially common with people suffering from certain diseases or those undergoing certain medical treatment. Constipation increases with age and can be either primary, secondary or chronic. Constipation becomes chronic if the condition persists beyond 3 months.

When an individual suffers from constipation, bowel movement, regular passage of stools and total elimination of fecal matters becomes so difficult thus causing the stools to be very solid, lumpy, large/small and hard. The intensity of constipation depends on individual and some individuals experience constipation within a short time duration unlike others who tends to suffer from chronic condition that inflicts serious discomfort and pain which adversely affects people’s quality of life.

Causes of Constipation
Studies agree that it can sometimes be problematic to determine the actual cause of constipation however, certain things can lead to the condition such as; low intake of fluids, unhealthy diet,  lack of the right amount of fiber especially cereals, fruit and vegetables in our diet. It can also be caused by anxiety, depression and side effects from certain medications such as anti-epileptics, iron pills, diuretics, aluminium antacids, pain killers and antidepressants.

Medical researches point out that about 2/5th of women do experience constipation during pregnancy especially during the early stages because the body produces more female hormone progesterone which  makes it hard to pass feces.

Studies report that most individuals sometimes avoid emptying their bowels and unnecessarily hold back their feces but it is noteworthy that this act of negligence can greatly cause constipation and ought to be avoided.

Another major concern with constipation is abnormal functioning of the intestines, excess fat in the diet,  problems with the colon and rectum.

It is also noteworthy that medications abuse such as laxative abuse and certain vitamins deficiencies such as folic acid and magnesium can also cause constipation.

Psychological conditions such as anxiety and high stress levels to a large extent can cause constipation.

Lack of regular body exercise can cause constipation.

Some people experience food intolerance and sensitivities which tend to affect the normal functioning of their digestive system thereby leading to constipation.

Certain medical conditions such as intestinal flora imbalance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), thyroid inactivity, stroke, liver problems, and nerve damages can cause constipation.

Chronic constipation can also be caused by drinking water being contaminated with a parasite called Giardia lambia hence the need for hygienic water supply.

Symptoms of Constipation
Difficulty emptying the bowel.

Reduction in the number of toilet visit and stool passage.

Strenuous passage of stools and inability to completely get rid of the entire fecal matters.

Abnormally dry, thick, lumpy, large, small and hard stools are signs of constipation.

Stomach cramps, bloatedness and aches.

Loss of appetite, excess gas, darkening of the tongue, nausea, rectal bleeding and feeling of sickness are all symptoms of constipation.

Home remedies for Constipation

1.Abdominal Massage
This is very helpful in relieving the symptoms of constipation by decreasing the colonic transit time, stimulating the peristalsis, decreasing the pains and discomfort associated with constipation as well as increasing the rate of bowel movements. Scientific studies prove that abdominal massage are capable of accomplishing these benefits due to its efficacy and the absence of side-effects. Additionally, abdominal massage is also very cost effective especially when administered by the sufferer.

2. Balanced Intake of Fluid
Researchers recommend a balanced daily intake of fluid (at least 8-10 glasses of water) to prevent constipation. Constipation is a clear indication of body dehydration. Apart from helping with food, oxygen and nutrient transportation in the body, water is very helpful in preventing constipation. It is noteworthy that drinking at least 4 glasses of water very early in the morning greatly helps with bowel movement and normal defecation.

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3.Warm Milk
Drinking warm milk before going to bed at night relaxes the digestive muscles from pains thereby preventing constipation.

4. Fibers
Eating foods which are very high in fiber such as cereals, fruit and vegetables are highly recommended for initial treatment of constipation. Apparently, there is need for individuals to consume at least up to 20–35g of fibre everyday to prevent constipation although the amount could be difficult for people to calculate but just ensure you include reasonable quantity of fibers in your daily menu.

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Eating at least up to 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day which is part of the much advocated World Health Organisation 5-A-DAY programme is very advisable for a healthy body. Eating vegetables such as tomato, peas, radish, turnip, lettuce, carrot, beetroot,coriander, cabbage  and sprouts are useful for relieving a sufferer  from constipation. Moreover, eating fruits like bale, avocado, guava, mango, orange, grapes, jamun, figs, guava and papaya are good roughages and great cleanser for the bowel thus relieves from constipation.

5. Yoga Treatment
Practicing yoga renders a fantastic ease from constipation as it helps with easy abdominal movement for quick relieve from constipation.

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6.Physical Exercises
Some studies support that exercise reduces the passage time from the gastrointestinal tract thereby facilitating the elimination of feces. On the other hand, some other studies claim that exercise has no impact on constipation but whatever claims that maybe therein, the point still remains that regular physical exercise helps with the proper functioning of the entire body system of which the digestive system is also inclusive. So however conflicting the medical research claims may be, exercise is very paramount in preventing and curing constipation.

7. Castor Oil
Some studies recommend the use of castor oil for treating constipation. Adding at least 2-3 tsp. of castor oil in milk can be of great help in treating chronic constipation.

8. Dietary Habits

Individuals should stick to diet plan that contains all the required nutrients and vitamins as this helps to maintain good health as well as prevents constipation. In order to prevent constipation, individuals ought to adopt a balanced diet that contains all six classes of food such as protein, carbohydrates, minerals, fat, water and vitamins.

9. Sleeping Habit
To prevent constipation, studies emphasize on the important of sleeping for at least 6-8 hours in a day for proper nourishing of the entire body system which is also inclusive of the digestive system.

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Including spices such as coriander, parsley, cumin, ginger and turmeric in our food has been proved very helpful in digesting our food thereby preventing constipation.

11. Natural Juice
Cabbage juice has been proved to be very helpful in treating constipation.

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12. Rightful Eating
Most people are so insatiable that they keep on eating even when they are already full. It is important to point out that excessive eating can cause constipation hence only eat when you truly feel hungry.

13. Grapes in Milk
Add some dry grapes in milk, slightly heat up, sieve and drink it for relieve from constipation.

14.Water and Salt
Add clean water with a pinch of epsom salt in a cup, stir very well and then drink for relief from constipation.

15. Spiegel seeds
Studies suggest that mixing spiegel seeds with sugar and warm milk is very helpful for treating constipation.

16.Elderly Adults Dietary Intake
Due to the alteration and weakening of the gastrointestinal system in elderly adults, their digestive functioning may be hindered or malfunction. As a result of this, careful attention ought to be paid in managing older adults especially with their individual energy intake, food tolerances and maintenance of a balanced food and fluid intake. Also with aging, gastric functioning tends to be slowed down with a reduction in the metabolic and micro-flora activities. There is need for the elderly adults to include nutrient-packed supplements as well as fiber and enough fluids in their diet which helps to prevent constipation.

This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your health care provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.

Albers B. et. al., (2006), Abdominal Massage as Intervention for Patients with Paraplegia Caused by Spinal Cord Injury- A Pilot Study, 59 (3), pp. 3-7.
American Dietetic Association (2000), Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition, Aging and Continuum of Care, Journal of the American Dietetic Association (100), pp.581-93.
Aravind G., Bhowmik D., Duraivel S. and Harish. G. (2013), Traditional and Medicinal Uses of Carica papaya, Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies, p.10.
Folden S. L., Backer J. H., Gilbride J. A., Maynard F., Pires M., Stevens K. and Jones K. (2002), Practice Guidelines for the Management of Constipation in Adults, Rehabilitation Nursing Foundation, pp. 6-10.
Lämås K., Lindholm L., Stenlund L., Engström B. and Jacobsson C. (2009) Effects of Abdominal Massage in Management of Constipation –A Randomized Controlled Trial, International Journal of Nursing Studies 46 (6),   pp.760–765.
Lee A. (2011), Constipation in Patients on Peritoneal Dialysis:A Literature Review, Renal Society of Australasia     Journal, vol.7, No. 3, p.124.
NHS UK (2015), Constipation 
Richmond J. P. and Wright M. E. (2006), Development of a Constipation Risk Assessment Scale,  Journal of         Orthopaedic Nursing, (10), p. 187.
Sinclair M. (2010, The Use of Abdominal Massage to Treat Chronic Constipation, Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, pp.7-8.
Sukumar B. S. and Shashirekha H. K.(2014), Constipation Cure and Treatment through Diet, Yoga, Home Remedies,  International Journal of Ayurveda and Pharma Research, 2(5), pp.6-10

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