Trained in dentistry, Sree is currently pursuing lab sciences. She loves researching and sharing information on various health topics.
The Extra Push: The Quest for the Best Impacted Stool Home Remedy
You feel gassy and bloated, and your body is screaming for you to let it out—but whatever you do, nothing happens. Or maybe, when you finally let go, there's a whole lot of straining involved and the pain is unbearable. So, what can you do?
Constipation occurs commonly to more people than you think. It may be brought about by several causes—from stress to diet to dehydration. In this day and age, however, constipation has become more prevalent, thanks to people's sedentary lifestyles. Though hardened stools may not have bothered you in the past, as you age, you may find yourself suddenly on the lookout for every impacted stool home remedy available. That's because as people grow older, they're less likely to remain active, and this inactivity increases the risk for experiencing constipation.
Though not an illness in itself, constipation may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as hypothyroidism, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), or cancer. Another typical cause of constipation and fecal impaction in older adults is that they may be suffering from illnesses related to old age. These include diabetes and a number of neurological diseases. In addition, constipation is common side effect of many medications, so the medications we take as we age to treat other health problems may be in fact be causing constipation, as well.
What's Your Pattern?
There's no such thing as a standard frequency for bowel movement. What may be a normal BM pattern for you may not be normal to others. The regularity may range from an average of thrice a day to an average of thrice a week. You'll know you're constipated if you're passing stools less frequently than usual and if you spend a significantly longer amount of time when defecating. In other words, if your thrice-daily trips to the toilet suddenly dwindles to thrice weekly, then you'll know that something's up. The fecal material is normally hardened because the more time it takes to be expelled from your body, the drier and firmer it becomes.
Aren't Constipation and Fecal Impaction the Same?
Not quite. Fecal impaction occurs when there's a development of an immovable bulk of waste material in the rectum. Another term for this is fecal loading. Imagine yourself being constipated for long periods and then passing very small amounts of hardened stools each time. The rest of the fecal matter get stuck in the rectum and end up accumulating during each unsuccessful attempt to evacuate the bowels. Paradoxical diarrhea happens when stool leaks around the obstruction.
For those who are still confused about the difference between the two, check the table below to compare the symptoms of each condition.
Differences Between Constipation and Fecal Impaction
Less than three BM each week
Passing of liquid stools or narrow, ribbon-like stools
Feces are hard, small, and dry.
Pain in the abdomen after eating
Stools are difficult to eliminate and elimination may cause pain.
A nagging need to move the bowels
BM is accompanied by excessive straining.
Some may experience nausea and vomiting.
After elimination, there's a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bowels.
Dependency on laxatives, suppositories, or enemas
Loss of weight, malaise, body aches
In severe cases, there may be dehydration, an abnormally rapid pulse, an abnormally high respiratory rate, and a high temperature.
Urinary incontinence may occur.
As the condition worsens, the individual may suffer from confusion and anxiety.
Why Laxatives Aren't Always the Answer
When you're suffering from constipation and impacted stool, it's easy enough to swoop down the local pharmacy and pop some tablets into your mouth. However, there's a downside to being overly dependent on laxatives. Apart from the fact that it can easily become habit-forming, it may also injure your colon and inflame your intestines. Furthermore, laxatives can lessen the effectiveness of any medication that you're taking for an existing illness. Some physicians would encourage the use of psyllium-based laxatives, since they are known to be gentler on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Even so, why risk the side effects of pharmaceuticals when constipation and fecal impaction can often be relieved by a few items in your cupboard?
Find Fast Relief In Fish Oil
It's no secret that omega-3 fatty acids aid in digestion. In fact, it's usually recommended for managing constipation related to ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. You can get fish oil by adding fatty fish like tuna, halibut, and mackerel into your diet. Alternatively, you can take fish oil supplements. One thing you should know when using fish oil as an impacted stool home remedy is that it has a blood-thinning effect. So if you have a tendency to bleed easily or if you're using other blood-thinners like warfarin, it's best to stick with fish oil from food sources. NSAIDs, steroids, and cholesterol meds also tend to interact with the components in fish oil.
Consider Taking Castor Oil
Castor oil produces an effect that's similar to laxatives. One advantage when using this substance as a home remedy is that it works very quickly. It's also for this reason why you have to be very cautious when taking it. For best effects, take a tablespoonful of castor oil early in the morning and stay at home. In a few hours, you'll experience stomach cramping and have your BM. Never take castor oil before bedtime or you'll end up losing sleep. A lot of people dislike the taste of castor oil. You can add it to fruit juices or cold treats like ice cream to mask the distinctive taste. As with most substances, castor oil is unsafe when taken in large doses. Moreover, it is contraindicated for pregnant women as the cramping may mimic signs of labor and may even induce premature childbirth.
Problem with Pooping? Try Probiotics
Probiotics such as Bifidobaterium and Lactobacilli are pro-digestion intestinal bacteria. You can use probiotics as an home remedy by taking supplements or by eating yogurt once a day.
Give These Helpful Herbs a Go
There are two types of herbs that are useful for treating constipation and fecal impaction. There are bulk-forming herbs like barley, flaxseed, and fenugreek, and there are stimulant laxative herbs such as aloe, senna, and cascara sagrada. Some individuals experience relief after taking cascara capsule supplements regularly at least twice a day. When taking stimulant laxatives, expect unpleasant side effects like abdominal cramping. Senna is most likely to cause dependency. Also, note that flaxseeds are different from flaxseed oil. The latter will do nothing to help relieve constipation and fecal impaction. Furthermore, when taking herbal supplements, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider regarding possible interactions with any medications that you're taking.
Dandelion root is another herb that can aid in the smoother passage of stool through the colon. It works by stimulating bile production and bile, in turn, softens the stool. To use this impacted stool home remedy, you simply need to boil a couple of tbsp. of dandelion root in 8 oz. of water. Then, take it as a regular tea. Another option is to drink at least 250mg of dandelion root extract along with your meals.
Stuck Fecal Matter Sucks. So Stock Up on Fruits.
Fecal impaction occurs with chronic constipation. To get rid of fecal impaction, you'll have to treat the problem at its root. Certain fruits like bael, which is native to India and Bangladesh, can provide a powerful home remedy since they possess laxative properties. Long-term constipation can be treated successfully by eating bael fruit regularly for a couple of months. Having about 50 grams of the fruit before dinner should do the trick. Aside from being fiber-rich, it also helps in toning the intestinal muscles.
Pears are also known to aid in treating chronic constipation. Eat one medium-sized pear during breakfast or throw it into the juicer and drink it up. You'll notice an effect in just a few days. Similarly, guava helps in the successful emptying of the bowels. Eat a couple of guavas daily.
The cellulose and the organic acid in grapes make this fruit a good laxative. Consuming 350g of grapes every day will help get rid of prolonged constipation. If they're not in season, you can always soak raisins in water for about a couple of days. Then, consume the raisins and the water that was used for soaking to help give that unwanted solidified waste matter an extra push.
Other fruits that stimulate peristaltic activity are oranges, figs, and papaya. You can eat one orange or ½ papaya with your breakfast to stop the buildup of food residue in your colon. To benefit from its quick laxative action, you can soak five pieces of dried figs in water for 8 hours and eat them with your breakfast.
Another fruit that effectively works as a home remedy is lime. All you have to do is to squeeze half a lime into 8 oz. of hot water. Then, throw in ½ tsp. of salt. Drink up.
Other natural laxatives include prunes, dates, berries, and rhubarb, which can be cooked and sweetened with raw, wild honey. The pureed rhubarb may also be taken with some apple juice. Meanwhile, dates can be eaten with a glass of milk.
Because it is rich in pectin, an apple a day really does keep the doctor away. Pectin is a water-soluble fiber that neutralizes acid levels and boosts fiber absorption. To prevent fecal impaction, eat an apple one hour after having your main meal for the day. Alternatively, you can treat fecal obstruction by drinking a tablespoonful of full-strength organic apple cider vinegar thrice a day.
Check out the following apple cider vinegar (ACV) remedy recipes.
- Add two tbsp. of raw apple cider vinegar to 8 oz. warm water.
- Add one tsp. of raw wild or manuka honey.
- Drink in the morning before breakfast and again in the evening half an hour before bedtime.
ACV and Flaxseeds Duo
- Prepare 16 oz. of distilled water and bring to a boil.
- Throw in 2 tbsp. of flaxseeds.
- Leave to boil for approximately 10 minutes.
- Afterwards, strain the flaxseeds.
- Pour one tablespoonful of organic ACV into the hot water.
- Drink the preparation once daily.
ACV with Psyllium Husk
- To make an effective impacted stool home remedy out of apple cider vinegar, just add 1 tsp. of powdered psyllium husk to 8 oz. of raw AVC.
- Leave for a couple of minutes.
- Drink up to help clean the walls of your colon and to get rid of that nasty unwanted stuff overstaying in your rectum.
Experience Sweet Relief with Honey and Blackstrap Molasses
Since molasses are rich in calories, it is generally not recommended for preventive purposes. That said, it works well as a treatment for chronic constipation and fecal impaction. All you need to do is to take a couple of tablespoons before bedtime. If the taste is a bit too strong for you, consider taking it with milk or some fiber-rich fruit juices like prune juice to create a potent laxative cocktail.
In mild cases, taking a tablespoonful of honey thrice daily may do the trick. It works because the sugar contained in honey triggers intestinal bacteria. This action causes intestines to draw water and hence, soften the stools. If you prefer not to take honey full strength, you can always dilute it in warm water or warm milk. Or you can incorporate it into your salads or green juices. To make a more powerful laxative mixture, combine 1 tbsp. of blackstrap molasses with 1/2 tbsp. of honey and drink it.
Dig it Out Through Digital Removal
Ooh that sounded so techy, didn't it? But really, the simplest thing you can do to get rid of impacted stool at home is to remove it manually using your digits, aka your fingers. Use sterile gloves that are well-lubricated with KY jelly and gradually insert your index finger through your anus. Do not scrape off the fecal mass with your bare fingertips! Apply firm pressure on the fecal mass to cause the pieces to break off. Then, gently guide them down and out of your rectum. However, this is recommended only if the impacted stool is not buried too deep inside you. When done improperly, this can place you at risk for acquiring bowel injury. Furthermore, the anal stimulation may also end up triggering a vasovagal response which includes a sudden drop in your cardiac rate and blood pressure. Again, you should only consider doing this if the fecal matter is low enough in the rectum.
Soften Up the Plug with These Enema Preparations
An enema can be considered as a firmer impacted stool home remedy for long term constipation and fecal impaction. It works by forcing stool evacuation with the use of water and an added stool softening substance. The volume of the liquid will provide pressure on the walls of your colon in order to trigger peristaltic movement and the body's natural impulse to defecate. After instilling the solution, you need to stay still for a few minutes while holding it in. This way, the solution can effectively combine with the stools to carry out the softening effect. While waiting, you can perform some gentle clockwise and counter-clockwise massage on the lower abdominal region to increase the effectiveness of the mixing process.
- Araghizadeh, Farshid, "Fecal Impaction," Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery. May 2005; 18(2): 116–119. Retrieved Jan. 3, 2017.
- "Constipation and Impaction," Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved Jan. 3, 2017.
- "Constipation," National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Retrieved Jan. 3, 2017.
- Kenny, Tim, "Constipation in Children," Jan. 2016. Patient.info. Retrieved Jan. 3, 2017.
- "Constipation," Oct. 19, 2016. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved Jan. 3, 2017.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Ryan Krygier on February 17, 2020:
There are several things I see here that I believe do work for this problem. I have Spina Bifida that adds to this problem also. I try to (do eat) apples, oranges, banana's and drink regular coffee every day and this seems to work. I also have a Spina Bifida FB Page: Everyone Being Aware of Spina Bifida. Anyone is allowed on the page, can ask to be added to it. I am also posting this above information (artilce) there.
Dominique on November 05, 2017:
I have extreme constipation caused by methadone treatment!! I’ve experienced fecal impaction for 6 months now and it’s at the point where I’m afraid to eat cuz of the pain of using the bathroom!! What should I do?? I take 195mg of methadone a day btw
Ryan on May 13, 2017:
Just a tip for those experiencing this (which would likely be why you're reading, right now). I thought for sure, in my head, that there was no way I was going to be able to pass the impaction I had in my rectum. I slept for the last 48 hours trying my best just to take my mind off the fact that it was there... because the mere attempt of pushing it out was too much to handle.
This had happened to be once before, where I went to the hospital. The doctor stuck his fingers up there and said "Yup, you got a turd brick in there dude," and minutes later, a nurse came in with an enema bag and got to work. Few minutes after that, after some painful straining, I was relieved.
However, I thought for sure that THIS time was different. I could feel a circle around my anus probably about the size of a newborn baby's head, and thought for sure that there was no way I was manually getting that out. So, after a total of about 48 hours of contemplation, I did the following and it led to sweet, sweet release:
1. As soon as I realized I was impacted, I took an over the counter Docusate Sodium stool softener. I did this knowing there was no way I was going to even bother trying to push that thing out, at the hospital or no, until it was softer. Note: This might not have even helped, and it definitely wont help if you're planning to "rid" yourself the same day, but I think waiting a couple days allowed it to get in there and soften it up.
2. I took a hot shower. While I was in the shower, I'd take a wash cloth and hold it under the hot water for about 10-15 seconds, strain, then immediately apply pressure to my anus. I did this about 15 times.
3. The grand finale. I was lucky enough to have someone help me by giving me a saline enema. Now, I know saline enema's are generally unhealthy, but this being my first one, I figured it couldn't hurt much. It had also been well over 24 hours since I took the Docusate Sodium - please do not take the Docusate unless you're going to be waiting on the saline enema or using a different type of enema that doesn't have sodium.
The enema hurts, for me, and I'm not really able to hold it in for longer than 3 minutes. Needless to say, after 2 and a half minutes, I was losing control of my bladder but knew it was time to go. Sat down on the toilet, let my body take it away, and it came out.
The point of my post: take a hot shower and do an enema. The faster the better, probably, as it's not really natural to hold that up in there. Your body is capable of some amazing things, and while there may be some rare instances where it's JUST TOO BIG- I thought the same exact thing, but the second I did the enema, that turd was coming out and it's more relieving than it is painful. (about 5 seconds of pain, followed by 5 seconds of heavy breathing and pure relief).
You'll see all different posts- do this, do that, use a suppository, manually remove with your fingers, etc. etc. Note: I tried to manually remove during the "first" attempt at pooing and I just couldn't grip anything. You'll see posts telling you to get in a tub of hot water, lube up your butt, remove some with your fingers, use a suppository, etc.
SAVE YOURSELF THE CONFLICT AND STRUGGLING - Take a hot shower, apply pressure to your anus with a hot washcloth 15 times, and then USE AN ENEMA. Make sure the person giving the enema(or you, if you're doing it manually) shoots the water in with a sufficient amount of pressure, and make sure they use a sufficient amount (about 3/4 cup), then HOLD IT IN AS LONG AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. Then get up and head to the toilet. Try not to panic.
You will be thanking me if you fol
Elle on February 04, 2017:
This helped me so much. I'm out of town working. The long drive and strange bathrooms. I was miserable! Now I can enjoy my trip! I'm saving your article.
Sree Vani (author) on January 30, 2017:
thanks a lot for your feedback Graham :)
Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on January 30, 2017:
Thank you. An absolutely first class post. All anyone needs to know. Well done indeed!