Constipation is one of the most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Reportedly, 80% of the people who suffer from ulcerative colitis also suffer from constipation.
Constipation can be characterised by less than 3 bowel movements in a week. Another sign of ulcerative colitis constipation is passing hard and dry stool.
Does Colitis cause Constipation?
Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation of the rectum. This is also known as proctitis. Proctitis inferes with bowel movement and causes the most severe constipation.
Distal Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation on the left side of the colon. However, this causes constipation on the right side of the colon. It is an equally painful occurrence and causes painful gas and bloating as well.
Doctors usually prescribe corticosteroids and immunosuppressants for these conditions. However, ulcerative colitis constipation can be treated naturally. Here is what you can do to feel better :
Since constipation is a symptom of Ulcerative Colitis, tracking your bowel movement is a great way to understand the effects of the disease on your body. Keeping a track of the frequency of bowel movements, will help you identify signs of inflammation and help you keep track of your healing as well.
2. A High Fibre Diet
Fibre is a crucial part of the human diet. It is fodder for the healthy gut bacteria that help us digest food. This means that a high fibre diet can benefit the gut microbiome and helps improve digestion.
This makes it easier to absorb nutrients from the food and generate waste as well. While this may not have a direct impact on ulcerative colitis constipation, it has a very good impact on the overall health of the digestive system.
Fibre also makes the stool bulkier and softer, making it easier to pass poop.
The best source of dietary fiber is plant-based food. This includes a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Here are some of the richest sources of dietary fibre that can help relieve ulcerative colitis constipation-
- i. Bananas
- ii. Beans
- iii. Broccoli
- iv. Avocado
- v. Berries
- vi. Whole grains
3. Drink More Water
When there is sufficient water in the body, the bowels secrete some water and this softens the stool and helps pass the stool in the colon.
When the body is dehydrated or does not have enough water, the body absorbs water from the colon. This interferes with the bowel movement and results in constipation.
For a person suffering from dehydration can lead to painful constipation as the hardened stool makes the ulcerations worsen.
It is important to drink sufficient water everyday in order to relieve constipation.
4. Engage in Regular Physical Activity
Unless you are suffering from severe ulcerative colitis symptoms (in which case you should give your body rest) regular physical exercise is very beneficial to your digestive health.
A lack of physical exercise normally leads to intestinal contractions. Digestive contractions make it very difficult to pass stool and hence, physical activity can help relieve constipation caused by ulcerative colitis.
If you live a sedentary lifestyle, a good practice is to take things slow. Start with low or moderate levels of exercise. This can be Yoga, swimming, or cycling.
You can slowly increase the intensity of your workouts as you go. This will keep your ulcerative colitis and constipation in check in the long run as well.
Biofeedback is a type of behavioural therapy which helps patients control their involuntary body movements. For patients of ulcerative colitis and constipation, biotherapy usually helps them gain control over their bowel movements as it leads to relaxation of the pelvic muscle.
There are certain medicines that tend to control spasms in the digestive tract and aid bowel movement to relieve constipation. Here are some medicines that can help with ulcerative colitis constipation-
i. Bulk Forming Laxatives
As the name suggests these medicines bulk up your stool and make it easer for the bowel to pass it. Here are some commonly prescribed bulk forming laxatives-
- – Methylcellulose
- – Psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid
- – Polycarbophil
These laxatives may cause the following side effects-
- – Nausea
- – Vomiting
- – Stomach aches
ii. Osmotic Laxatives
These laxatives increase the amount of water in the intestines so it can release water to support bowel movement. It makes the stool softer and helps passing it. Here are some commonly prescribed osmotic laxatives-
- – Lactulose
- – Polyethylene glycol
- – Magnesium citrate
These laxatives may have the following side effects-
- – Abdominal gas
- – Cramping
- – Bloating
High Carb Health recommends consulting with your medical professional and aiming to avoid medications unless absolutely necessary.
7. Essential Oils
Essential oils are extracted from plants and have been used as alternative medicine in order to tackle various health issues ranging from skin diseases to digestive issues.
Essential oils can also be used to heal ulcerative colitis with constipation as well. Here are the ways in which you can use essential oils for the same-
i. Inhaling essential oils
You can inhale essential oils to benefit from their therapeutic properties. It is possible to inhale them directly or through steam. You can also use sprays and diffusers which are compact and more convenient.
Make sure you inhale essential oils in a well-ventilated room for the best effect.
ii. Applying it on your Skin
Essential oils can also be used topically to heal the body. Since essential oils are concentrated you should make sure your skin doesn't react to it before applying it to your body.
Dilute the essential oils required and apply it on your skin.
iii. Ingest It
Some suggest ingesting essential oils, but they can be toxic and you shouldn’t do this without professional supervision.
Ulcerative colitis with constipation is debilitating but it is a common occurrence. There are several ways to deal with the symptoms including medication, and biofeedback. However the most effective way to deal with ulcerative colitis is by natural means- a good diet and lifestyle. These show sustained results and do not cause any side effects.
If you are an ulcerative colitis patient who suffers from constipation, there’s no reason to keep suffering in silence. You can fill out our health survey for a free consultation!