Check-up: Woman wants help with constipation

April 16, 2018

D is 76 years old and has been suffering with constipation for a long time now. The medications don't seem to help. She has been drinking more water and eating ripe bananas and more fruits, but this doesn't help much. D asks how to get rid of the problem.

Just how much water is enough? In these hot times, many people are slightly dehydrated, even when they think they are getting enough fluids. And when you are dehydrated, your stools becomes very dry and even cakey, sometimes resembling small pellets of goat faeces. If you feel thirsty, drink. And if you're constipated, try drinking six to eight ounces of water every two hours. Other suggested natural treatment for constipation include the following: prunes and prune juice will supply fibre and sorbitol which collects water and softens stool; a cup or two of coffee will make the bowels go for many people, but be careful to prevent dehydration with coffee; regular magnesium supplements help move the bowels regularly; drink a tablespoonful of olive oil or mineral oil once or twice a day. This helps stool to slip along the bowel and outside; probiotics such as yogurt, eaten regularly, tend to ease stool evacuation and increase frequency of stooling; beans are rich in fibre and will help bulk up stools and assist with the passage of stools; one teaspoonful of baking soda mixed with warm water and drunk rapidly; add lemon juice and honey to warm water and drink a glass full. Lemon is a bowel stimulant; include fruits, fresh vegetables, bran and other fibre in your diet daily; regular exercise; schedule your bowel movement for the same time each day and don't rush it; senna and aloe are useful but should only be used short term; and check what medications and vitamins you are taking. Some painkillers, and of course, iron supplements, are well known to cause constipation.

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