Treating constipation: general advice

Medical advice is very important in order to eliminate any worrying or treatable conditions that could be causing your constipation.

If your GP does not feel that any investigations are necessary or if they are all normal, there are some simple measures that may improve your symptoms . These are outlined below:

Toilet hygiene

Opening your bowels as soon as you feel the need to do so is a normal reflex that allows smooth evacuation of faeces.

If you hold your stools, evacuation can become more and more difficult and increasingly painful.

You must try to take your time to open your bowels so that you can achieve complete evacuation.


Some medication can induce constipation as listed below.
  • Painkillers especially those which contain codeine
  • Antacids or heartburn medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-convulsants (anti-epileptic drugs)
  • Antispasmodics
  • Additional iron and calcium supplements

This is not an exhaustive list but if you are concerned regarding any of your prescribed or over-the-counter medication, please consult your GP.


Stress can also be a risk factor for constipation.

Learning how to relax in general and also when opening your bowels is very important.

Sport and physical exercise

Physical activity helps to stimulate your intestines and hence enables the prevention of constipation.

It is generally medically advised to undertake 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, enough to leave you breathless, for at least 5 days in the week . This time can be broken up into chunks.

Options to build into your daily routine could include:
  • Using the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Avoid using your car or public transport if you can manage to walk
  • Get off the bus, tube or train one station early and walk the rest of your journey
  • Take up a hobby which includes physical exercise such as gardening or DIY

Your GP may also advise you to strengthen your abdominal muscles to stimulate your bowels. This may include sit - ups, abdominal crunches and/or massage.
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