Hard Stool in the Morning
Disclaimer: If you are concerned about a health condition, you should seek the opinion of a qualified medical professional. This article provides some general information and advice regarding common causes of hard stool; if you do not feel better after a few days, or notice any serious symptoms (for example, blood in your stool, severe swelling, fever, etc.), consult a physician.
What Is Constipation?
Constipation occurs when your stool passes too slowly through your bowels. It can result in hard, painful stools, and uncomfortable bloating.
Some Common Causes of Hard Stool in the Morning
- Insufficient dietary fiber - dietary fiber is only found in certain plant matter-- bad news for carnivores! You need dietary fiber to add bulk to your stool, to help it capture moisture, and to aid in good bowel health.
- "Holding it" for too long - It's true-- by ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement, you can actually train your body so that eventually, you'll lose the urge to have one! If you're apprehensive about using public toilets, try bringing along seat protectors and wet wipes (or anything else that will put your mind at ease). Your body sends you signals for a reason-- don't ignore them!
- Dehydration and poor diet - as noted below, insufficient water intake and a diet full of junk food tends to promote constipation and poor bowel health.
- Lack Of Physical Activity - the reason for the link between physical activity and good bowel health is not clearly defined, but a relationship between low physical activity and increased rates of constipation has been observed.
Home Remedies for Hard Stool
- Don't drink alcohol- alcohol can have a diuretic effect on your body; in other words, it can cause you to expel increased volumes of urine, leaving you dehydrated.
- Try a strong cup of coffee - coffee can be part of your morning routine for a whole new reason! A strong cup of coffee can help trigger a bowel movement and get things going in the morning. It's not just for waking up! (Just don't overdo it, because as with alcohol, caffeine can have a diuretic effect).
- Get active - a sedentary lifestyle can lead to constipation (among other health problems). If you are having trouble with hard stool in the morning, try to get more active. Go for a walk, take up running-- anything at all that gets your body moving.
- Drink Lots of Water - one of the colon's main functions is the absorption of water from the digested food that passes into it from your stomach via the small intestine. Chronic dehydration can exacerbate your constipation. Drink 8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated (here's a trick: sometimes ice water can help to trigger a bowel movement)!
- Put your bowel on a schedule - as mentioned above, holding it for too long can lead to constipation. You can help reverse this problem by setting a regular bowel movement schedule. For example, decide that you will sit on the toilet at three fixed times each day-- and wait a few minutes. Eventually, you will be able to restore yourself to regularity.
- Cut Out Junk Food - this is part and parcel with increasing your consumption of dietary fiber and cutting out alcohol. Not only can junk foods promote constipation, they will leave you feeling lethargic and tired, making it less likely that you'll stick to an exercise routine (which helps constipation-- see below). With some people, cheese can also cause constipation.
- Increase fiber intake - eat whole wheat bread and pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables, or try a supplement that you can mix in your water. Avoid ultra-refined sugars and flours, fatty meats, and junk food in general.
As mentioned above, if you feel that something is seriously wrong, you notice a worsening (or a lack of improvement) of your symptoms, or you see anything alarming (such as blood in your stool), seek the advice of a medical professional.