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Can Constipation Cause Nausea?
Gut Health

Can Constipation Cause Nausea?

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on July 14, 2022
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3 min

Is there any connection between constipation and nausea, and what are the causes? Read the full guide to get all the answers.

Can constipation cause nausea

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A survey by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimates that 16% of U.S. adults suffer from constipation. 

Constipation becomes unbearable if accompanied by the additional symptoms of nausea. 

Is there any connection between the two, and what are the causes? Read the full guide to get all the answers.

Can Constipation Cause Nausea?

Research confirms that, unfortunately, constipation can cause nausea, among other unpleasant symptoms.

Constipation affects the intestine to pass stool, and the stomach empties slower than usual. So, being constipated prevents food from reaching the intestine. When this happens, constipated patients might feel nauseous or even urge to vomit.

What Causes Constipation?

Absorption of too much water in the colon results in stools becoming dry and hard. The slow movement of lumpy stools from the rectum causes constipation. Chronic constipation may be the sign of some underlying medical conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome and many more. Other causes of constipation may be:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Low dietary fiber
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Certain medications
  • Ignoring the urge to remove stools

How Are Constipation and Nausea Connected?

The improper functioning of the colon puts your entire gastrointestinal tract off balance. 

Proper bowel movements play an important role in the maintenance of gut bacteria. The small intestine is the place where most of the absorption occurs with bacteria. When you have constipation, the bacteria overgrow and produce methane. Previous studies relate the methane-producing bacteria with the slowing of the gut and nausea.

When stools take a longer time to move through the colon, it results in the accumulation of toxins, which – you guessed it – cause you to feel nauseous.

In case you experience nausea and constipation regularly, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for immediate medical attention.

What Are Other Causes of Nausea?

Of course, nausea is not always related to constipation. The underlying condition involving intestinal obstruction might be one of the causes. But what other conditions could be responsible for nausea?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition that affects the digestive system with visible damage. It includes the following common symptoms:

  • Frequent abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps, bloating, and gas

All these effects lead to nausea. IBS causes weak intestinal contractions and results in the buildup of stools.

Various factors, including nervous system abnormalities, change in gut microbes, and early childhood stress, contribute to IBS.

Passive lifestyle

The basic causes of constipation and nausea involve the lack of exercise. Reduced physical activity leads to less blood in the GI tract, food moves sluggishly, and therefore can cause nausea.

In fact, regular exercise maintains muscular contraction and relieves constipation. It reduces the time that stools take to pass from the large intestine, which limits the water quantity that your body absorbs.

Stress

There is an indirect link between stress and constipation. Stress releases certain hormones, such as epinephrine, that change intestinal movements and disturb the digestive system. 

Therefore, slow intestinal movement causes constipation or urinary tract infections, and high levels of stress can even worsen the problem.

Lack of sleep

It’s not a secret that lack of sleep increases your risk of several health problems. The length and quality of your sleep are one of the factors responsible for regular bodily functions, including bowel movements. 

Not getting enough rest might lead to the following symptoms:

Food poisoning

Food poisoning symptoms start after a few hours or within a week of eating contaminated food. Symptoms vary from person to person, with the most common being nausea and vomiting.

In most cases, food poisoning is caused by poultry, meat, and home-canned food. It goes without saying that you should seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen; otherwise, you might get complications like listeria infection.

Laxative overdose

Laxatives promote bowel activity to pass the stools. The common symptoms of the laxative disorder include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. 

The National Institute of Health states that nausea is the major effect of overdose of the lactulose laxative.

What Is the Treatment of Nausea?

Few lifestyle changes and dietary supplements can improve your quality of life. If you are constipated and feel nauseous, focus on treating constipation first. Eating fiber-rich food or over-the-counter medicines can soften the stools.

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Over-the-counter laxatives regulate bowel movements and relieve constipation. A stool softener is another option that works differently than the laxatives. Instead of increasing the bowel movements, the stool softeners make the stools soft to pass easily.

Before turning to any medicine, avoid foods that can cause constipation and nausea. Drinking plenty of fluids, eating fiber-rich food, and exercising can help with treating nausea as well.

A Word From MD

Constipation is a problem that can interfere with your normal routine. Unfortunately, there is a close connection between constipation and nausea, one leading cause of the other.

Apart from constipation, many other factors can contribute to nausea. These factors can be irritable bowel syndrome, food poisoning, or stress. Seek medical attention if you experience constipation and nausea with severe abdominal pain and blood from the rectum.

Conclusion

Surveys estimate that 4 million U.S. people suffer from constipation and related issues. Constipation can cause nausea, but other reasons can also cause both symptoms.

Several factors, including irritable bowel syndrome, dietary changes, and a sedentary lifestyle, can affect both conditions.

Some people may start a food journal to know their potential food intolerances. But if you experience both nausea and vomiting, it is better to consult a doctor for safe treatment.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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