You’ve been sitting on the toilet for what seems like hours, trying to expel the slab of concrete that is your poop. In addition to the bloating and straining, you feel like you’re burning up. Maybe you even notice a bead of sweat rolling down your forehead.
This makes you wonder, can constipation cause a fever?
The short answer is: almost definitely not. Constipation and fever can happen at the same time, but that doesn’t mean there’s a direct correlation.
Before we unpack this mystery, we need to get some official medical definitions sorted out:
- Constipation is when you poop fewer than three times per week. This is usually accompanied by abdominal pain, hard stools, and straining like a madman on the toilet.
- A fever is a body temperature that’s 100 F or higher. Depending on how high your fever is, you might experience sweating, chills, headache, and muscle aches.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s explore whether constipation is the culprit for your soaring body temps—and what to do about it.
Can Constipation Cause a Fever?
There’s basically a zero percent chance of constipation causing a fever. If you’re sick, it’s normal to run a fever and also have trouble pooping. However, there isn’t a cause-and-effect relationship between your bowel habits and your body temperature (or vice versa).
A fever is a sign your body is fighting an infection. This is your immune system’s method to kill the bacteria or virus to stop it from spreading. Constipation may be a pain in the ass (literally) but it’s not an illness that would trigger your body to crank up the heat and cause a fever.
If you have a fever and constipation at the same time, there’s an underlying cause—and it’s almost certainly an infection.
Why Would a Fever Accompany Constipation?
There are a few culprits that might cause you to get a double whammy of fever and constipation. Let’s take a look at some medical conditions where these symptoms occur simultaneously.
The Flu or Common Cold
Seasonal bugs like a cold or flu can quickly cause dehydration, which also happens to be a notorious cause of constipation. Your digestive system needs plenty of fluids to keep turds moving smoothly, so if you’re not drinking enough water when you’re sick, don’t be surprised if you’re plugged up.
If you spend your sick days curled up on the couch, that doesn’t do your gut any favors either. Physical activity is essential for stimulating bowel movements.
It’s also worth noting that being sick might throw your diet out of whack—whether that’s eating less or eating foods that don’t give you the urge to go.
Diverticulitis is when the small pouches (diverticula) along your digestive tract become inflamed or infected. This usually happens when bacteria get into your intestines.
Diverticulitis can cause fever, nausea, stomach pain (usually on the left side) and bowel obstruction, leading to constipation. Most cases can be treated with a round of antibiotics.
Appendicitis happens when your appendix (a little pouch by your colon) gets swollen and fills up with pus. This occurs when a virus, bacteria, or parasite gets into the appendix.
Appendicitis can cause a blockage in your colon, making it difficult to poop. But it’s also an infection, which is why it causes fever, vomiting, and abdominal pain too.
Stress isn’t an infection, but it can cause fever-like symptoms like hot flashes, chills, and body aches (this is called a “psychogenic fever”). At the same time, stress hormones like cortisol can shut down your digestive system, thanks to something called the gut-brain axis.
As you can see, there are plenty of underlying conditions that may cause constipation and fever to occur simultaneously.
3 Tips to Relieve Constipation
Whether your constipation stems from the flu, travel stress, or something else, we’ve got some tips that’ll help you unleash the beast next time you mount the throne.
1. Eat a High-Fiber Diet
Getting enough fiber is essential to keep your intestinal plumbing operating efficiently. Fiber brings water into your poop so it slides out like a smooth brown snake (not hard pebbles).
Add these items to your grocery list ASAP:
- Prunes (or prune juice)
- Whole grain cereals
- Fiber supplements
2. Get Some Exercise
If you spend most of the day sitting, you’re gonna have trouble shitting. Aim for about 30 minutes of exercise daily to stimulate bowel movements, whether that’s walking, lifting weights, or just taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Try these 4 easy exercises for constipation relief.
3. Try a Laxative or Stool Softener
If the diet and exercise combo doesn’t make you poop, over-the-counter laxative or stool softeners are effective solutions for chronic constipation. Just be prepared for side effects like cramping and diarrhea.
These things work fast, especially if you take the suppository version. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The Final Word on Fevers and Constipation
You might be relieved to learn that a fever isn’t a symptom of constipation. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your clogged up colon. Severe constipation can lead to fecal impaction, a giant clump of hard poop that’s basically impossible to push out.
If you can’t resolve your tummy troubles on your own, talk to a healthcare professional to get things sorted out. And when you finally get the rumbles, make sure you have DUDE Wipes on deck for cleanup duty.
You’re gonna need us.