Chronic constipation is plaguing American adults at a crazy pace. Some gastroenterologists estimate that 1 in 4 people have trouble pooping. In addition to being a red flag for your digestive health, constipation feels like sh*t (pun definitely intended).
You’re probably familiar with symptoms of constipation like bloating, abdominal pain, stomach cramps, and hard stools that are even harder to push out. But if you haven’t pooped in a while and you feel sick, you might be wondering: can constipation cause nausea?
The short answer is yes, it’s normal for constipation to make you feel nauseous. That’s because your gastrointestinal tract “talks” to your brain, and if things aren’t moving properly, you may experience nausea as a result.
Read on to learn how constipation messes with your whole body—not just your digestive tract—and how to get relief ASAP.
Can Constipation Cause Nausea?
Yes, nausea is a common symptom of constipation.
Constipation is usually defined as having less than three bowel movements per week. When poop gets backed up in your intestines, it puts pressure on your colon and the lining of your stomach. This can lead to a chronic sense of discomfort or a sudden, intense urge to vomit.
Nausea from constipation may be more intense for people with sensitive digestive systems or health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and Crohn’s disease.
4 Reasons Constipation Can Cause Nausea
Let’s take a closer look at some of the main reasons constipation is making you nauseous.
1. Bowel Obstruction
When you’re constipated, your poop gets hard as it sits in your colon. This blockage can prevent digested food from moving into your intestines. All of that waste can lead to bloating and nausea.
Think of your digestive system like a drain: when it’s clogged, pressure builds up with nowhere to go and causes all sorts of plumbing problems.
2. Gut Microbiome Imbalance
Your gut microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that aid digestion. However, constipation can throw your microbiome out of whack (the scientific term for this is “dysbiosis”). The excess waste in your colon can produce methane gas, which is associated with nausea.
Dehydration is a common cause of constipation, and it can lead to nausea as well. These two symptoms often go hand-in-hand. In severe cases, you might vomit, sparking a vicious cycle of losing more fluids which makes it even harder to poop.
4. Weak Appetite
You might not feel hungry when you’re constipated, especially if you’re bloated. However, not eating can make you feel nauseous. This is because stomach acids build up, leading to hunger pangs, acid reflux, and nausea.
How to Treat Nausea from Constipation
As you can imagine, the best way to get rid of nausea from constipation is by taking a good old-fashioned dump. That’s easier said than done when you’ve been plugged up for days. Here are some simple lifestyle changes that can kickstart a bowel movement.
Drink More Water
Fluid intake is essential for healthy bowel habits. All you have to do is drink about 125 ounces of water per day. And yet, it’s estimated that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
Eat More Fiber
According to Mayo Clinic, adding more fiber to your diet can decrease your chance of constipation. It may even lower your risk of hemorrhoids and colon cancer too. Guys should try to eat 30-38 grams of fiber each day. Here are some examples of high-fiber foods:
- Whole grains
You can also take a fiber supplement if you have trouble getting enough from your diet alone.
Get Some Sleep
Not getting enough rest can increase your risk of constipation by 30%, according to a 2020 survey. It’s suspected that your circadian rhythm and bowel habits are closely linked, so make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
Increase Your Physical Activity
Inactivity is a huge risk factor for constipation. If you work a desk job or spend a whole weekend lounging on the couch, that puts your bowels to sleep. You can fix that by exercising for 30 minutes or simply going for a walk. There’s a reason runner’s trots are a thing.
Take a Laxative or Stool Softener
Over-the-counter laxatives and stool softeners are some of the most reliable solutions to produce a bowel movement. They typically make you poop the same day you take them with minimal side effects. The two most common brands are Miralax and Dulcolax, although you can buy the generic versions and save a few bucks.
Try Natural Laxatives
If you’re not into modern medicine, there are plenty of home remedies for constipation. Whether any of them are legit remains to be seen, but here are some you can try:
- Drink kombucha
- Sip a baking soda solution
- Try one of these overnight colon cleanses
- Go to a bookstore—people swear by the Mariko Aoki Phenomenon
Constipation Can Wreck Your Rectum
Stomach pain and nausea aren’t the only problems constipation causes. Straining on the toilet to push out your poop can cause anal fissures: a medical condition involving small tears inside your anus. Anal fissures can cause painful bleeding during bowel movements and they take up to six weeks to heal.
Wiping with dry toilet paper will only intensify your booty pain. But DUDE Wipes can save your ass—literally. They’re infused with aloe vera and vitamin E to soothe your nether regions. We may not be able to prevent constipation, but we can definitely make your pooping experience more pleasurable.