Avoiding Bowel Blockages in Hot Weather
– Written by Aoife P. R.
Here Comes The Sun
Although I love to see the sun shining and the rain hold off so we can get outdoors to jazz up the garden, hit the beach, go for a picnic, or head for a hike with the dogs, I’ve learned the hard way on how to do so safely!
Two summers ago I ended up in hospital with a bowel blockage! What the heck is that?, you might be thinking. It’s basically a severe build-up of constipation in the bowel, so much so that my x-ray showed the stool putting pressure on my diaphragm! The poop was everywhere! -Except for my toilet!!
Although I have Cystic Fibrosis, I don’t usually suffer too badly from digestive issues because I’m pancreatic sufficient. I don’t even take daily laxatives anymore, so this bowel blockage came as a shock to me!
It had happened pretty quickly to be honest, partially due to the lack of movement as I was still cocooning as a vulnerable person during the height of the pandemic, and also due to the intense heatwave that lasted almost 2 weeks at the time.
My CF team informed me that heaps of patients were going through the very same issues too, some even had to take a medicine called ‘Prep’ which is used pre bowel surgeries! Others had even had to have their bowel blockages surgically removed… God help them!
To say the least, this information scared the cr*p out of me!- but not literally, unfortunately!
So why am I oversharing all of this information? Well because I do not want any of you to end up in a similar situation. I also learned lots of different DIY ways you can get that poop out of you without resorting to extreme solutions. These suggestions are based on what worked for me when I was extremely blocked up alongside laxatives that were prescribed by my doctor and dietician. You can also use these tips as daily preventative methods as I now do, -you learn the hard way!
It’s really important that you contact your doctor or a dietician if you are extremely constipated. I am going to discuss ways to prevent constipation in this blog post.
If you have Cystic Fibrosis, you too will lose too much salt in your sweat. Salt is full of electrolytes and minerals that our body needs to function optimally. When there is an extended period of intense heat, we all lose even more salt than usual. So it’s super important to stock up, especially after physical activity. You can add salt to your smoothies or water or even just down a sachet before or after a workout.
Epsom salt or Himalayan salts tend to work best to relieve constipation before it gets worse. Consuming the salt increases the amount of water in your intestines which will soften your stool and make it easier to pass.
Adults and children over 12 should dissolve 2-4 level teaspoons of salt in 8 ounces of water to drink immediately.
Children 6-12 should dissolve 1-2 level teaspoons of salt into 8 ounces of water and drink immediately.
2. ‘I Love U’ Massage
Desperate times call for desperate measures! After a lot of DM-ing on Instagram from my followers, I learned about this digestive massage and turned to YouTube for a demo.
Abdominal massage can help teach the bowel muscles what they need to do and can ease your constipation symptoms. Some of my followers on Instagram are Bowel Cancer Survivors so when they mentioned this as a tip, I was all over it! The massage triggers muscle contraction and sort of wakes things up in there from the outside.
The I Love U massage is done by tracing an upside-down letter ‘I’ on the left side of the stomach, followed by an upside-down ‘L’ on the left side of the stomach moving across, and then finally an upside-down ‘U’ that crosses over the tummy.
You should trace each letter shape at least 10 times. If you are still a bit confused as to how it works, then watch this short video on YouTube for a demo.
Another factor that grew my interest in Reflexology was this bout of severe constipation. (In case you weren’t aware, I am now a qualified Reflexologist).
Again, my severe discomfort had me desperate for relief, so I also watched some demos on YouTube to give myself Reflexology for constipation.
Out of all the things I tried, this was the most helpful so I highly recommend trying it!
I often share content on how Reflexology can help with different ailments so keep an eye out on my Instagram account for these! -@aoife.p.r
Another form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that can be used for constipation is acupressure.
I have just recently been discharged from a 2-week stay in hospital. Often in hospital or sick at home, our bowels can become sluggish. I told my physiotherapist this one morning and after our respiratory physio session, she performed some quiet acupressure on me to help move my bowels. I felt the effects within a couple of hours as I became a little more gassy and things began to shift -(thank God we have our own isolated rooms in the CF ward!)
This is one of my all-time favourite TCM therapies. I attend acupuncture as often as I can for various wellness reasons, including sluggish bowels.
Similar to Reflexology and Acupressure, Acupuncture stimulates peristalsis, helping to move the rigid stool along the intestines to be excreted.
Since attending for regular acupuncture the past year, I no longer require any more of my daily laxatives which I used to take 3-5 times a day!
6. Yoga with Adrienne
Another one of my absolute YouTube love is ‘Yoga With Adrienne’. She literally has yoga workouts for all kinds of everything!-Including digestion. This workout really helps me when I feel things slowing down, you can check it out on the link below.
7. Consumption of Fibrous Food
It might seem like an obvious one, but keeping a food diary for a couple of days might help you establish whether or not you’re eating enough fibre. Women should eat 21-25 grams of fiber per day and men should consume 30-38 grams a day.
I love to add things like flax seeds and pumpkin seeds to my porridge, smoothies, stir-fries, and salads to help boost up my fiber intake.
However, if you are severely constipated, then it’s actually better to chill out with the fibrous whole foods and eat light plain foods. This avoids the food blocking up your bowel further because if you’re very constipated, you don’t want to just be adding a load more fiber and heavy foods on top of what’s already stuck in your gut.
It’s really important to talk to your dietician or doctor if you are severely constipated.
In my opinion, it’s important to think of medications as a last option, not a first. Being brought through the medical system from childhood can often lead us to forget about alternative options, as I did for 20+ years. Medications should not be viewed as a ‘quick fix’, because although they may help faster, they are filled with foreign chemicals and can come with their side effects too.
Before I explored alternative therapies, I took daily doses of both Duphalac/Lactulose and also Movicol sachets. These are beneficial to help kick start the bowel if things have really gone downhill, but they only work if you drink at least 3 Litres of fluids a day as they encourage the stool to absorb the water from the bowel, softening the stool, making it easier to pass.
Coconut water is a great addition to your daily fluids as it’s high in electrolytes and fibre.
Also Note: It can help to reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake when taking laxatives as they both dehydrate the body and you will need as much hydration as possible to help the laxatives work. Ensure to sip water throughout the day so that it reaches the bowel and isn’t quickly excreted by the kidneys.
I hope you find these tips helpful! 🙂
Aoife P R x