The most common causes of constipation are dietry factors. This includes a lack of fibre and liquid intake.
An very popular remedy is psyllium husk capsules. When taken with water, psyllium expand into a gentle jelly-like bulk laxative that helps to encourage the peristaltic like motions of the bowel wall. Psyllium seed also helps to clean the bowel walls and may be a preventative in diverticular disease. In addition it is recommended to increase fluid intake to a least a litre of water a day.
In the elderly, constipation often results from a decrease in the tone and mobility of the intestine and their muscle. Irritable bowel syndrome may also cause recurrent bouts of constipation, usually alternated with bouts of diarrhoea. For irritalbe bowel, we have found a mixture of psyllium husk capsule and non dialry acidophilus capsules to be extremely beneficial.
Hormonal conditions such as an under active thyroid gland may cause constipation. Smokers may experience symptoms of constipation after quitting smoking as nicotine has a laxative effect (see Cigarette habit). Straining to pass a stool can cause pain and even tearing of the anus as the hard/large stool is forced out.
Long term use of laxatives is not advisable as your intestines may become dependant on the laxatives and you may worsen your constipation as a result. Eating regular, small meals daily places less pressure on the intestines as there will be smaller amounts of faecal matter to move at a time. Exercise also increases circulation and helps improve muscular tone.