What is constipation?
Constipation is defined as:
What are the symptoms of constipation?
In addition to the three or fewer bowel movements per week, here are some other common symptoms of constipation:
What causes constipation?
If you are constipated, there are some common causes:
When to see a doctor
You should see your doctor for an evaluation if your constipation:
Your first step in treatment
If you are hypothyroid, your first step in dealing with constipation is to ensure that your treatment is optimized, with appropriate thyroid blood-test levels and the right thyroid hormone replacement medication. Learn more about optimal treatment and levels in the article: Is Your Thyroid in the Normal Range, But Not Optimal?
Increase your fiber intake from food
Experts recommend that you get from 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day to resolve constipation. Swap out low-fiber, binding foods (like processed grains, cheese, and meats) for whole grains, and choose high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, greens, and beans. And don’t forget the high-fiber prune — a popular and effective constipation remedy. Also, include healthy fats and oils such as olive oil and coconut oil. Remember to increase your fiber intake slowly to minimize gas and bloating.
Use fiber supplements
You may want to add a supplement to reach your daily fiber goal. Some recommended supplements include:
Remember that if you dramatically increase your fiber intake, you should have your thyroid levels rechecked. Fiber can slow absorption of your medication and affect your dosage requirements.
Try other supplements
Other supplements can help with chronic constipation, including:
Probiotics are good bacteria that you need for digestion. You can add probiotic-rich foods — yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha — to your diet. It’s also helpful to add a probiotic supplement that includes acidophilus.
Low magnesium levels are common in people with hypothyroidism. Low magnesium makes elimination more difficult, so supplementation can help with regularity and minimizing constipation. It’s best to take magnesium supplements at bedtime — they can also help with sleep.
Get enough liquid
Sufficient intake of liquids — especially water — is essential for constipation. Aim for at least 64 ounces of water or beverages without caffeine each day.
Get daily exercise and movement
Regular daily exercise and movement can help with regularity and reduce constipation. Even a daily walk or a few minutes of weight-bearing exercise can help. Yoga and stretching can also be helpful in managing constipation.
Try osteopathic manipulation
Osteopathic physicians — known as DOs — can produce hands-on musculoskeletal adjustment and treatment that may relieve constipation for some people. Here is a resource to find a DO near you.
Try a laxative
Physicians consider laxatives a last-resort treatment because you can become dependent on them. But there are some cases when they are an important part of constipation treatment. Laxatives include: