Constipation is common. For some people, it’s a chronic condition. For others, it’s a brief occurrence caused by stress, medications, a poor diet, lifestyle choices or a medical condition or surgery, says colorectal surgeon Massarat Zutshi, MD.
But no matter the cause, you can find relief — it’s just a matter of how.
Most cases of acute constipation happen because you are not eating enough of the right foods (or in the right quantities), drinking enough water or getting enough exercise. So the fixes are simple: Move more, drink more water and add fiber to your diet (or take it as a supplement) to add bulk to your stool.
Some people have success taking probiotics, too, which can change the composition of the bacteria in the gut.
Try waking up earlier to eat breakfast and then move your bowels. Food can stimulate the need to go, and you probably feel most relaxed in your home bathroom.
But don’t get too relaxed in there — the more time you spend on the toilet, the more likely you are to strain for bowel movements. “Do not take your cell phone into the bathroom with you, or work on your computer or read a book,” Dr. Zutshi advises.
And if you feel the urge to go when you’re out an about, don’t avoid using a public restroom. Delaying a bowel movement can actually make constipation worse.
For example, in “slow transit constipation,” a condition where the bowel does not move things quickly through, fiber sits in your gut and can make you feel worse.
Long story short: If fiber makes you worse, don’t just add more. See your doctor.