How Lifestyle And Diet Can Cause Constipation
If youre constipated, your gut might simply be in sharp disagreement with your lifestyle. Poor diet and lack of physical activity are the most common causes of constipation, so its a good idea to rule these out first before looking into other causes.
Here are some diet- and lifestyle-related factors that can make you constipated:
- a diet heavy in meat and dairy products
- a diet heavy in processed foods, which are high in fat and sugar
- lack of high-fiber foods
- not enough water and other fluids
- too much alcohol or caffeine
- lack of exercise
- ignoring the urge to use the bathroom
Make a few changes to your lifestyle and see if they result in any positive bowel changes. For example:
- Include more high-fiber foods in your meals: fruits, vegetables, whole grains.
- Take a fiber supplement along with a tall glass of water each day.
- Do some form of physical activity for 30 minutes each day, even if its just a long walk.
- Use the bathroom as soon as you have the urge.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
How Is Stress Linked With Constipation
High levels of stress can cause or aggravate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, stomach pain, and changes in bowel movements, which can include constipation.
Researchers have identified various connections between the brain and stomach that may lead to constipation symptoms. A range of treatments and remedies can help relieve stress-related constipation.
In this article, we cover some of the possible links between stress and constipation, along with potential treatments.
The stress hormone may contribute to constipation.
Constipation means that a person has difficulty passing stool or does not have bowel movements very often. Constipation symptoms vary among individuals and can include:
- fewer than three bowel movements per week
- dry, hard, or lumpy stool
- bowel movements that are difficult or painful to pass
- feeling unable to empty the bowels
Many factors can cause constipation. Common causes of constipation are dehydration, a lack of physical activity, and a poor diet for example, not eating enough fiber.
Stress can also lead to constipation. When psychological stress leads to physical symptoms, they are known as somatic symptoms.
The effects that stress hormones have on the body can cause constipation. In addition, when a person is stressed, they are more likely to eat an unhealthful diet, get less exercise or sleep, or forget to stay hydrated. These factors can lead to constipation.
All Told There Are Ways You Can Ease Your Stress Diarrhea Or Stress Constipation
Obviously, if your digestive system is acting up, it might be an indication to take it easy and try to reduce some stress wherever possible in your life. And since thats often way easier said than done, it might be time to pick up some stress-relieving activities like meditation, exercise, or other self-care tips. Stress-reduction techniques through cognitive behavioral therapy can also work, Dr. Staller says. You can also be mindful of what youre doing, eating, and drinking when youre under pressure to see if that helps.
If the stress-related poop issues have already hit, there are some things you can do to make the experience slightly less miserable. First off, over-the-counter medications like anti-diarrheals or laxatives can help to either stop diarrhea or get things moving, Dr. Staller says. Beyond that, there are temporary lifestyle changes you can make on your own. If youre dealing with diarrhea, the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking plenty of clear liquid like water, broth, and juice, and avoiding foods like dairy products, fatty foods, high-fiber foods, or highly seasoned foods. If youre dealing with constipation, exercising and increasing your fiber intake can move things along, the Mayo Clinic says.
So there you have it: Can stress cause constipation and diarrhea? You bet.
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The Constipationweight Gain Link
Constipation and weight gain can actually go hand-in-hand in some cases. In the short-term, you will probably weigh a few hundred grams more if you are constipated because your bowel is full of digested food. Just remember that this is rather insignificant because it hardly impacts your overall body weight.
These foods also lack fiber and can seriously slow down the transit of food through your bowel. To the question: can constipation cause weight gain, the answer is no, constipation does not cause weight gain.
What To Ask Your Doctor
- Could any of my medications be causing my constipation and if so is there an alternative?
- What dietary or lifestyle changes do you suggest I introduce?
- Are laxatives suitable for me and if so which one would be best for me to use?
- How will my constipation be monitored?
- Are there any over the counter remedies which will reduce the chances of me getting haemorrhoids or an anal tear?
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The Answers To Your Constipation
Change your Mind: Change Your Constipation
Constipation just as a good number of diseases and complications can be a mental problem. If that is the case, you will need to change your mind.
Leading scientists connect constipation with being stuck in the past and refusing to release old ideas. The answer to your constipation caused by grief, depression or any emotional factor is to create a new thought pattern. You need to harness the power of affirmations to overcome grief, anger, depression, and other issues that are making you stuck in the past. Release your past and let new and fresh ideas to enter your mind. Allow life to flow through you.
Take Proper Care Of Your Body
If you are depressed, you are likely to neglect your body. This will further worsen your constipation. You need to take good care of your body by eating the right foods. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also, exercise regularly.
Do not spend your nights feeling sorry about yourself and crying. This will not help you. Make sure to get adequate sleep at night and eventually you will see your depression diminish and this will positively affect your digestive health.
Make Time To Move Your Bowels
Try waking up earlier to eat breakfast and then move yourbowels. Food can stimulate the need to go, and you probably feel most relaxedin your home bathroom.
But dont get toorelaxed in there the more time you spend on the toilet, the more likely you areto strain for bowel movements. Do not take your cell phone into the bathroomwith you, or work on your computer or read a book, Dr. Zutshi advises.
And if you feel the urge to go when youre out an about,dont avoid using a public restroom. Delaying a bowel movement can actuallymake constipation worse.
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What Should I Expect When I Talk To My Doctor About My Constipation
Talking to your doctor or anyone about your bowel movements is not the most pleasant of topics. Know that your doctor is there for you. Doctors are trained health professionals who have discussed just about every health topic you can think of with their patients.
Your doctor will first ask you questions about your medical history, bowel movements, and your lifestyle and routines.
- What are your current and past diseases/health conditions?
- Have you lost or gained any weight recently?
- Have you had any previous digestive tract surgeries?
- What medications and supplements do you take for other disorders and for the relief of constipation?
- Does anyone in your family have constipation or diseases of the digestive tract or a history of colon cancer?
- Have you had a colonoscopy?
Bowel movement history
- How often do you have a bowel movement?
- What do your stools look like?
- Have you noticed any blood or red streaks in your stool?
- Have you ever seen blood in the toilet bowl or on the toilet paper after you wipe?
Lifestyle habits and routines
- What food and beverages do you eat and drink?
- What is your exercise routine?
Your doctor will also perform a physical exam, which includes a check of your vital signs . He or she will use a stethoscope to listen to the sounds in your abdomen. Your abdomen will also be touched to check for pain, tenderness, swelling, and lumps.
When Should I Call My Doctor
- Constipation is a new problem for you.
- You see blood in your stool.
- You are losing weight unintentionally.
- You have severe pain with bowel movements.
- Your constipation has lasted more than three weeks.
- You have symptoms of outlet dysfunction constipation.
Remember, talk openly and honestly with your doctor about your bowel movements and any questions or concerns you may have. Pooping is something we all should be doing. Constipation may be a temporary situation, a long-term problem or a sign of a more serious condition. Be safe. See your doctor, especially if youve noticed a change in your bowel pattern or if your life is being ruled by your bowels.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/07/2019.
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Is Anxiety Disorder Causing My Constipation
If you suffer chronic constipation, consulting a doctor will help to rule out diseases that cause constipation such as:
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Multiple sclerosis
Once these are ruled out, it is more likely that stress or anxiety is causing your constipation. Then, attention can be directed towards treating this form of constipation, known as functional constipation.
How To Treat Stress
Now, you have the affirmative answer to can stress cause constipation? The next step is to figure out how to treat the condition, which includes the following tips:
- Eat more fiber-rich foods or take a fiber supplement.
- Hydrate yourself, although you have to cut down on coffee, tea, and other diuretic beverages.
- Stay active as much as possible to encourage better movement in the intestines.
- Limit your intake of sugar-rich foods, fatty foods, cigarettes, and alcohol because these pose a high risk of developing constipation.
- Use laxatives, prescription drugs, or stool softeners. However, these shouldnt be used for too long to stop the body from being dependent on these medications.
- Consult a doctor to get professional therapy and find the source of the stress to address it.
- Engage in yoga, reading a book, meditation, or listening to music.
If you suffer from chronic constipation due to stress, trying the tips mentioned above might help. It might be a yes to the question can stress cause constipation? but you can always manage the condition and prevent it from getting worse. You can change your lifestyle and try to minimize the triggers of stress in your life so you can finally prevent stress-related constipation.
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What Lab Tests And Other Medical Tests May Be Done To Find The Cause Of My Constipation
Your doctor can order no tests or many types of tests and procedures. The decision of which ones your doctor might order for you depends on your symptoms, medical history, and overall health.
Lab tests: Blood and urine tests reveal signs of hypothyroidism, anemia, and diabetes. A stool sample checks for signs of infection, inflammation, and cancer.
Imaging tests:Computed tomography , magnetic resonance imaging or lower gastrointestinal tract series may be ordered to identify other problems that could be causing your constipation.
Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy an internal view of your colon with a scope may be performed. During this procedure, a small sample of tissue may be taken to test for cancer or other problems and any found polyps will be removed.
Colorectal transit studies: These tests involve consuming a small dose of a radioactive substance, either in pill form or in a meal, and then tracking both the amount of time and how the substance moves through your intestines.
Other bowel function tests: Your doctor may order tests that check how well your anus and rectum hold and release stool. These tests include a certain type of x-ray , done to rule out causes of outlet dysfunction constipation, and the insertion of a small balloon into the rectum .
Stressful Life Events And Constipation
Patients with constipation have been exposed to significantly more stressful life events than controls . demonstrates the association between different stressful life events and constipation. After multiple logistic regression analysis, separation from the best friend , failure in an examination , severe illness in a family member , loss of job by a parent , frequent punishment by parents and living in a war affected area remained independently associated with constipation.
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How Do Doctors Treat Diarrhea Caused By Stress
Though this link between stress and diarrhea has been fairly well established, it doesnt mean that one stressful incident will necessarily cause diarrhea. In some cases, stressful situations or chronic stress can lead directly to diarrhea, but stress can also be a trigger for some well known digestive problems like IBS, IBD, Crohns disease, or ulcerative colitis. It may also be that an ongoing anxiety disorder is behind ones anxious stomach issues.
If it can be determined that stress or anxiety are either causing diarrhea or triggering other digestive issues, the treatment options can then include a wide variety of methods and medications. Here are some common ways to effectively treat diarrhea as well as symptoms that may accompany diarrhea like abdominal pains, cramping, or bloating:
For Serious Constipation There Are Options
If your constipation is severe and does not improve withchanges to your diet and lifestyle, there may be other options that you candiscuss with your doctor. Surgery is the very last option.
A wide range of laxatives are available, plus there arepro-motility drugs that a doctor can prescribe. Sometimes at-home remedies canbring relief, too, like dietary vegetable or mineral oil to lubricate thebowels.
Heres the bottom line: Try simple fixes first, but if theyfail, dont suffer needlessly. If you think your bowel movements are not whatyou would consider normal, discuss it first with your primary care physician, whocan talk with you about treatments or refer you to a specialist who can helpget your bowels moving again.
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Top 6 Negative Emotions That Actually Cause Constipation
Who could have thought that being depressed, angry, or anxious makes you susceptible to constipation? There is now a study linking chronic constipation to anxiety and depression. Leading medical experts believe that constipation has an emotional basis.
It seems you will have to do more than dietary modifications, exercising and drinking plenty of water, to conquer constipation. You will also need to improve your psychological well-being because the state of your mind has an impact on the state of your gut.
You might have tried hard to address the common constipation causes but your bloating keeps persisting. Maybe it is time you consider that there may be hidden emotional causes behind your constipation.
Rome Iii Criteria Used For Diagnosing Constipation In This Study
Two or more of the following criteria fulfilled in a child of at least 4 years, once per week for at least 2 months:Data were analysed using Chi-square and Fisher’s exact test using EpiInfo Centres of Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA and World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland). A p-value< 0.05 was taken as significant. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed on variables that were found to have significant associations.
Two or fewer defecations per week.
At least one episode of faecal incontinence per week.
Retentive posturing or excessive volitional stool retention.
History of large diameter stools that may obstruct the toilet.
Painful or hard bowel motions.
This study protocol was approved by the Ethical Review Committee of the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians.
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Nutrition And Dietary Supplements
Consuming additional fiber through the use of supplements can have a positive effect on long-term constipation. Its best, however, to check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your daily diet. Psyllium, a soluble fiber that comes from the shrub-like herb Plantago ovata, can help relieve constipation. The reaction between the psyllium husk and water forms a gelatin-like mass that helps move stool through the intestines. Another soluble fiber, glucomannan, is derived from the root of Amorphophallus konjac. Some studies have shown that it, too, can be helpful with resolving chronic constipation. Although probiotics help to keep the intestines healthy and in good working order, studies using them to treat constipation have yielded mixed results. Some of the most common types of probiotics include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, and Saccharomyces boulardii.
Emotions And Your Bowels
Stress can upset your gut and make you tense your muscles. That can make your constipation worse. And your brain is on high alert during times of stress, so youâre more aware of belly upset.
Anything that causes chronic stress, including CIC, can affect your emotions and your well-being. That can put a strain on your relationships, too.
Experts also think that levels of serotonin, a chemical your body makes, play a role in the movement of your bowels, along with affecting your mood.
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The Enteric Nervous System
The enteric nervous system or âsecond brainâ describes the nerves lining the digestive tract. These nerves consist of hundreds of millions of neurons and control the digestion of food. They also send signals from the gut to the brain. It is thought that in states of anxiety, disruption to the ENS-brain connection reduces motility through the gastrointestinal tract, leading to constipation. This represents a malfunctioning of the âgut-brain axisâ, which connects the gut to the brain.
Can Poor Food Choices Contribute
It may be a cliché, but when youre stressed you may be more likely to reach for the double-fudge ice cream instead of a kale salad. Stress and bad food choices sometimes go together. If youre experiencing stress-related constipation, this can make matters worse.
Try passing up the foods that you know cause problems. It may help to keep a food diary so you know which ones affect you most. Most often the culprits include:
- very spicy foods
- high-fat foods
Fiber-filled ingredients may be a good choice for some, but for others they may make constipation worse. Thats because they are harder to digest. Try experimenting with healthy foods to see which ones work best for you.
If you have IBS, you may also benefit from eliminating carbonated sodas, caffeine, and alcohol from your diet permanently, or until your symptoms subside.
If stress is causing your chronic constipation, you may benefit most from addressing both issues:
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