Constipation is a chronic complaint that can be very troubling. In this condition, people move their bowels three or fewer times a week. Often, they must strain to eliminate hard or lumpy stools. Certain medicines, especially opioids, may clog up the works. How can you fight constipation?
A New Morning Regimen to Fight Constipation:
Q. I used to have constipation from tramadol, which I took for sciatica pain. I changed my morning regimen to include three cups of strong coffee and ten ounces of bran flakes. It works!
I did experience the phenomenon of “walking and tooting.” If you try the coffee and bran flakes, you should avoid crowded theaters, elevators and symphony halls. The conductor of the orchestra may not want to hear you doing a duet with the tuba player.
Insoluble Fiber to Fight Constipation:
A. Thanks for the advice. The type of fiber found in bran flakes is often successful in combating constipation. Ten ounces is an enormous dose, though. Other good sources of fiber are nuts, vegetables and some fruits-think of prunes, for example (Hsieh, American Family Physician, Dec. 1, 2005).
Don’t Forget the Fluids:
Of course, people consuming extra fiber also need more fluids to wash it all down. We suspect your three cups of coffee qualify. Again, the dose would be too high for many individuals.
Other Ways to Fight Constipation:
There are a number of other home remedies that can be effective against constipation, from blackstrap molasses to magnesium supplementation to power pudding and sugar-free candy. You will find them along with ways to control gas in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.
Anyone who is troubled with chronic constipation despite attention to fiber and fluids should discuss the problem with their clinician. If it is a side effect of a drug, the prescription might be changed. On the other hand, constipation may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that needs treatment.