Constipation - am I ok?
May 21, 2004 6:03 AM   Subscribe

Health question involving constipation. More inside to prevent offending delicate sensibilities.

I haven't pooped for three days. I'm generally at least a once-a-day guy. I took my favorite fiber-based laxative last night and this morning, but I'm still waiting. How long do I have before I have to worry?

I don't want to take a chemical laxative because they usually work better than I want them to, but I don't want to wait so long that the solution is worse than the runs for a couple days. I feel pretty much fine right now but this is, as far as I can recall, the longest I've ever gone without a BM. Can I wait safely?
posted by Mayor Curley to Health & Fitness (33 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
luckily, I don't have first *ahem* hand experience, but if you want to avoid chemical stuff you may want to check out enemas, which seem to be a pretty popular (if unpleasant, one assumes) solution to your problem
posted by matteo at 6:26 AM on May 21, 2004

maybe they're too mild, but have you tried eating kiwi (the fruit)? and drinking strong coffee?

if you're wondering how long before you explode, i would guess it's quite some time - lungs are surprisingly tiny and the rest of your body is pretty much full of intestine.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:28 AM on May 21, 2004

A lot will depend on how much and what you have been eating in those three days and whether you had normal movements up to the last time. If you had a good clear out last time then it may take your bowel time to reload, and if you've been eating sparingly that will reduce your need further. I do sympathise though, I hate going a day without myself.
posted by biffa at 6:40 AM on May 21, 2004

It's must be something in the Boston water, because I've been, uh, "feeling your pain" of late. I've been approaching the problem on several fronts:

1) Reduce alcoholic intake.
2) Increase fiber in the form of Kashi cereal (aka "Colon Blow") and fiber capsules.
3) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water or Gatorade.
4) Natural stool softener.

Now this has all helped my innards, uh, "step up to the plate," but in order to actually "go up to bat," you need but one thing:

5) A super chilli verde burrito from Anna's Taqueria.

The first four steps help to ready you for the eventual geyser of relief.

What likely happened is that you became dehydrated, which caused Klingons to cloak in around the black hole just past Uranus. They dried and narrowed the wormhole some, which caused your problem. The steps above help to reverse your polarity and unleash some quantum torpedoes.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:42 AM on May 21, 2004

maybe sitting in a warm bath would help, then?
posted by andrew cooke at 7:06 AM on May 21, 2004

Coffee, cigarettes, lines of coke.
posted by corpse at 7:10 AM on May 21, 2004

Coffee and a cigarette, Mother Nature's own laxatives.
posted by Danelope at 7:14 AM on May 21, 2004

Magnesium supplements (that's the special ingredient in Milk of Magnesia). The warm bath, suggested by andrew cooke, with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts (again magnesium).
posted by Feisty at 7:30 AM on May 21, 2004

Eat ground flax seed. Sprinkle it on eggs in the morning and salads, if you eat them.
posted by rocketman at 7:33 AM on May 21, 2004

Should I add that its likely none of us are doctors and that if your bowel explodes its not our fault. If its starts to hurt see a doctor, it if starts to hurt then stops for no good reason - see a doctor really, really quickly.
posted by biffa at 7:36 AM on May 21, 2004

A couple of bran muffins? When you press on your lower abdomen, are there masses in it?
posted by gramcracker at 7:37 AM on May 21, 2004

I find, just like my mother always told me, that eating bananas fix the problem from either direction (that is, whether you're too loose or blocked up). Also lots of water and some juice.
posted by Melinika at 7:37 AM on May 21, 2004

The Rufus Wainwright remedy: cigarettes, chocolate milk, and heroin.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:51 AM on May 21, 2004

I think 5 days is the most you should ever go without going, but i also recommend lots of coffee, water, juice, and my personal fav: waffles or french toast with lots and lots of maple syrup (maple syrup always always works for me--i guess it lubricates the system or something)

Coffee, cigarettes, lines of coke.

coke is usually cut with baby laxative, or so they say.
posted by amberglow at 7:52 AM on May 21, 2004

Lots of water is very important. I have found great success with a little supplement called Multifiber.

Popcorn is supposed to help keep you regular, too. Extra fruit is also good.
posted by jennyb at 7:56 AM on May 21, 2004

I thought heroin bunged you up? Hence the toilet scene in Trainspotting when he comes off it.

I realise this is not an especially scientific source.
posted by biffa at 7:57 AM on May 21, 2004

Same comment re bananas. Avoid bananas, except those appearing in Woody Allen films!
posted by onlyconnect at 8:01 AM on May 21, 2004

I thought heroin bunged you up?

Opiates are a natural constipator. In the Civil War they asked whether you were "open" (the runs) or "closed" (constipation). If you had the runs they'd give you morphine and if you were closed they'd give you mercury.

Opiates cause you to go on the nod, slowing down your systems. They literally slow down your bowel movements. I don't know the chemical reaction that causes this to take place though.

Oh and to the original question... 3 days, no shit? 5 days is when you start worrying. It seems like you have some kind of Freudian obsession with your rectum.
posted by geoff. at 8:04 AM on May 21, 2004

You are going to let us know when you have been, right? The suspense is killing me.

Also, Pom, pomegranate juice has a very strong laxative effect.
posted by milovoo at 8:11 AM on May 21, 2004

Exercise, and diet in general. (for example, see this thread - grudge match, especially starting around the halkway mark when I pissed off bingo with my remark on PAH's).

In general, eat a diet based mostly on organic beans of various sorts, brown and wild rice, cold pressed olive oil, garlic, onions, sparing amounts of lean fish, and/or meat, fresh nuts, occasional cheese, occasional fruit, lots of pure water (no chorine, activated charcoal filtered at least), tons of fresh or flash-frozen vegetables (organic if at all possible) and all of this on top of a huge bed of salad greens.

Follow such meals with a wafer thin chocolate covered mint.

I only get constipated when I eat like a normal American. When I eat in the above fashion, it's never a problem.

But - if you don't shit soon, consult a doctor. You could have a bowel obstruction.

Also - the popcorn method works for me. But, avoid nasty hydrogenated fake-butter popcorn flavorings. Trans-Fats are nasty
posted by troutfishing at 8:11 AM on May 21, 2004 [2 favorites]

Never mind. But thanks for the tips! And if you're in Boston Proper, no, no one is spreading fertilizer.

It seems like you have some kind of Freudian obsession with your rectum.

Yeah. So what? So did Martin Luther and he turned out all right.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:14 AM on May 21, 2004

Never mind.

So you went?
posted by amberglow at 8:27 AM on May 21, 2004

*flushes toilet, opens thread's windows, hopes Mayor Curley doesn't have WiFi*
posted by matteo at 8:42 AM on May 21, 2004

I guess the Monkeyfilter voodoo doll wasn't as powerful as they thought.
posted by COBRA! at 8:42 AM on May 21, 2004

Unfortunately, the opposite problem is far more common to my physiology. I have, however, had the big "C" for days on end. The solution: A sleeve of Fig Newtons - there are two in a package - taken orally (in case you were confused).
posted by aladfar at 9:00 AM on May 21, 2004

I guess the Monkeyfilter voodoo doll wasn't as powerful as they thought.

Hah! That's funny! Was that a slow day, or are they really so dull that a comment that I barely remember posting is generally worth a thread?
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:15 AM on May 21, 2004

For future reference, the BRAT diet is what is fed to a kid with the runs. Bananas, Rice (white), Applesauce, and Toast. PPP is for the constipated: Peaches, Pears, Plums.
posted by Feisty at 9:34 AM on May 21, 2004

Why so keen on making fun of the monkeys, MC? They are fun people, actually, when you're not putting them down, which seems poor form.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:53 AM on May 21, 2004

well, my dad is a dr. and has always expounded (is that the proper usage?) the virtues of Metamucil.

and it that isn't clearing you out, isn't prunce juice supposed to clear ya out?

and yeah,the star trek reference by robocop is bleeding ? pure gold :)
posted by eurasian at 11:11 AM on May 21, 2004

there is always the old-fashioned epson salt bath . . . i've found that even when i don't have BM problems it creates movement in relatively short order.
posted by nyoki at 12:13 PM on May 21, 2004

For the record, a bowel obstruction is really, really, really painful. If that were the problem, you'd fucking well know it.
posted by ook at 12:40 PM on May 21, 2004

Prunes/prune juice.

There are opiod (opiate) receptors on the bowels that cause the constipation associated with opiates (heroin, morphine, etc.)
posted by gramcracker at 2:18 PM on May 21, 2004

Did you go yet?
posted by corpse at 8:26 AM on May 24, 2004

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