Constipation: Some Easy Remedies

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

Constipation.  Some Easy Remedies.

Everybody has difficulty moving their bowels at some time.  Whether this is due to true constipation or due to other factors, help is available.  Importantly, before embarking on taking medications, you should see your proctologist, also known as a colon and rectal surgeon or coloproctologist, to be sure that your difficulties are not due to other, more serious issues such as polyps, colorectal cancer or an impaction (a large amount of hard stool blocking the anal opening).

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Am I Constipated?  Will A Kind Word Help?

Most people have between one and twenty one b.m.’s per week.  This is the “normal”. So if you are looking for the once per day holy grail of bowel movements, forget it.  It will be like chasing your tail.  It rarely happens.  A wise proctologist who practiced in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, was overheard telling constipatees, “What goes in will come out. Relax.”  This advice often works, as patients are taught to stop focusing on stool frequency.  Just try to follow the advice of this fatherly figure.

However, if this sage advice fails to produce results, what else is available if you absolutely, positively must “do something”, or must “take something”?  First, see a proctologist.  The physicians of Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates will examine you to be sure that a little irregularity is the only troublesome finding.  And then, you will be counseled in trying one of the following:

The Tricks Of The Trade:

  • Bulking agents. Fiber.  Fiber.  Fiber.  Fiber binds water to our stool. In our busy daily lives in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, we often fail to consume the right amount of fiber; between 25 and 30 grams of fiber daily.  There are many types of fiber available to us.  They may be based on psyllium (Konsyl®,  Metamucil® and others), cellulose (Citrucel®)  or polycarbophil, a synthetic (Fibercon®).  Don’t forget the natural fibers in our fruits and vegetables.  These may do the job.
  • Lubricants.  Mineral oil, taken when needed, will help lubricate your stool.
  • Emollients. This class works by lowering the surface tension of stool.  Examples of this are docusate (Colace® and Surfak®).
  • Hyperosmolar laxatives. These should only be used with the guidance of your proctologist. PEG (polyethylene glycol,-Miralax®).  They are gentle and predictable.
  • Saline laxatives.  This class of drugs attracts water to the stool.  They should not be used unless a special situation exists and your physician prescribes them.
  • Stimulants.  Stimulants increase peristalsis (intestinal squeezing).  They contain chemicals which are stimulants and promote dependence on them.  Chronic use may lead to being unable to have a b.m. without a stimulant.  Best to avoid these.
  • Herbs.  More stimulants marketed as “natural” or “healthy”.  Avoid these.  They may be “natural”, but they are not healthy.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates

When all is said and done, your surgeon will be able to guide you skillfully and confidentially through the hassle of irregular or difficult bowels.  At Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates, physicians are available to answer your questions.  Literature is available on the office website.  Appointments can be made by calling (310)273-2310.

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