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How to Prevent and Treat Constipation

Constipation happens to many people and most of the time, it can be prevented. Learn how to avoid constipation, how to manage it, and when you need to see a doctor. It's time to get regular!

Prunes, apricots and cherries on a table.

Constipation is when bowel movements are hard, dry, and difficult or painful to pass. It can be caused by many factors relating to diet, fluids and physical activity. Other situations can contribute to constipation, like certain medications, hormonal changes during pregnancy and some health conditions.

The most common symptoms are abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating and gas. Other more severe symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Not fun, but let's take a look further at constipation with some things we can do about it. 

How can I prevent and treat constipation?

Preventing Constipation

There are a few things we can do to prevent constipation from occurring. First and foremost, try to stay hydrated as best you can throughout the day and enjoy some fibre-rich foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains. It's also great for your bowels if you can move your body throughout the day. This could be anything from a gentle walk to some dancing. The movement helps to keep your bowels' peristalsis action moving along. 

Importantly, try not to hold on if you need to poo because holding on can interfere with the natural reflexes of the bowels. 

Treating Constipation

If you're struggling with constipation, the first thing to do is gradually increase fibre and fluid. 

Increase fibre  

Two types of fibre help with constipation— insoluble fibre, and soluble fibre. 

The digestive system does not break down insoluble fibre, passing through to the colon unchanged. It then helps bulk up the stool and makes it easier for the bowel muscles to push it out. Insoluble fibre is found in whole grains, vegetables and fruit.

Soluble fibre is a type of dietary fibre that dissolves in water. It is found in many foods, such as oats, apples, oranges and beans. Soluble fibre can be helpful for people with constipation because it absorbs water and creates a soft stool that moves easily through the intestines.

Increase fluids

Fluid is important thing for someone who has constipation. It helps to reduce the dryness in the stool, allowing it to move more quickly through the intestines. You don't need to only drink water. Tea and other beverages; even some juice like prune juice can be helpful. 


try to move your body, e.g. going for a walk if you can, as this can help with the peristalsis movement in your bowel, as we mentioned earlier. 

Other Tips

Alternating your sitting position on the toilet can also help. The sitting position allows the bowel to empty more easily, which helps move stool through the colon.

Trying some abdominal massage or heat pack might also help with discomfort in addition to the other strategies suggested. 

When it's time to chat with your Doctor

Once constipated, it can be a bit of a balancing act to get things moving again, but things should pass, and you can get back to general bowel care with those prevention tips.

But there are times when you should consider getting help and advice from a health professional like your Doctor or a dietitian. If the constipation is not getting better, you've been experiencing other symptoms, or if you think medications contribute to the problem, see your health professional. They might be able to review medications or recommend certain laxatives to assist. There are many different kinds of laxatives like bulking agents or faecal softeners, so they'll be able to help you get the best one for your situation.  


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