Thursday, September 21, 2023

Does Stress And Anxiety Cause Constipation

Treatment Of Functional Constipation

Does Stress Cause Constipation And Why?

The National Institute for Health and CareExcellence guidelines and results of other studies indicate the following treatments are useful for functional constipation:

  • Lifestyle modification. Dietary change to increase fiber in diet through fruits and vegetables, and fluid intake.
  • Laxatives, including osmotic laxatives such as lactulose or stimulant laxatives such as senna and bisacodyl.
  • Probiotics. Those of the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus genera have been shown to increase stool frequency in adults and children and are a safe option.

Pharmacy First Scotland: Constipation Treatment From Your Pharmacy

Constipation isn’t usually serious and can be treated by a pharmacist. Your pharmacist may recommend that you contact your GP practice if required.

Also speak to your pharmacist if you think your child might be constipated. Laxatives are often recommended for children alongside diet and lifestyle changes.

You may be able to treat constipation yourself by making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle . If these changes don’t help and the problem continues, you should see your pharmacist.

However, you should see your GP for advice if:

  • you notice any rectal bleeding
  • you notice any unexplained weight loss
  • you have persistent tiredness
  • your constipation lasts longer than 14 days without improvement

What Are Normal Bowel Movements

Normal bowel movements are different for everyone. If you usually have two or three bowel movements a day, three in a week means you are constipated. For some people, though, three bowel movements a week is normal.

Normal stools are soft, formed, and are not painful. Normal bowel movements can also be controlled.

There is no rule for how often you should have a bowel movement. Constipation is when your bowel movements are less frequent than what is normal for you.

The longer you go between bowel movements, the harder your stools will be. This is because the stool dries out in the colon as water is absorbed back into the bloodstream.

Read Also: Tramadol Acid Reflux

Also Check: How To Not Be So Stressed

Mindfulness Meditation And Breathing Techniques

Mindfulness, meditation, breathing techniques, and progressive muscle relaxation have all been linked to evoking the relaxation response by reducing anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure, and improving energy, concentration, and self-awareness.

This relaxation response is the opposite of your fight-or-flight impulse, which is your stress response. When you experience a relaxation response, your body no longer feels threatened by perceived danger, so your brain tells your gut it can safely revert to normal functioning.

Why Does Stress Cause Stomach Pain Or Gi Discomfort

Stress &  IBS Related Symptoms

We know through research there is a strong connection between our brain and our gut through the central nervous system. The enteric nervous system an out-branching of the central nervous system serves the GI tract, making a direct connection between our brain and gastrointestinal system. That connection can cause normal physiologic processes to be interpreted as painful under stressful or anxiety-provoking situations.

When were stressed, hormones and neurotransmitters are released in the body. This can negatively impact gut motility, or the way our intestines and stomach squeeze and move waste through the body. Also, stress can affect the delicate balance of bacteria in our gut, causing GI discomfort.

People experiencing chronic stress may also eat more or eat unhealthy foods with a higher amount of natural and artificial sugar that is poorly digested and causes GI distress. People may also smoke and drink more alcohol or caffeine than normal which can cause symptoms.

Also Check: How Does Stress Make You Lose Weight

Tips On Managing Constipation

Changing your daily routine, not having enough fibre or fluids in your diet and not being active enough are all common reasons for constipation.

To help relieve your constipation, try improving these lifestyle factors by, for example:

  • Eating more high fibre foods or adding a fibre supplement to your diet
  • Drinking more fluids but limiting tea, coffee and other diuretic drinks
  • Exercising regularly and trying to be as active as possible.

If lifestyle changes are not working for you, then over-the-counter laxatives may be the next step for short-term constipation relief but always check with your doctor or pharmacist first to see which type would be best for you.

How Can Constipation Affect You

Although people often worry about it, there is no reason to believe that constipation causes a poisoning of the system. It can cause feelings of sluggishness and bloating, but there is no evidence that bugs or toxins leak from the bowel into any other part of the body. Another common idea is that constipation may lead to cancer but there is no evidence that long-term constipation increases the chances of getting bowel cancer.

It is important to remember that the vast majority of cases of constipation are easily resolved with simple diet, lifestyle or medication change. However if constipation does not respond to different treatments there can be medium to long term effects including:

  • Haemorrhoids or fissures: bleeding from haemorrhoids, or more rarely a fissure at the anus, is the commonest complication of constipation.
  • Rectal prolapse: chronic straining can lead to the rectal wall protruding out through the anus.
  • Faecal impaction: elderly or immobile patients may get so badly constipated that they quite literally get bunged up and this will need prompt treatment by either the GP or hospital.
  • Diverticular disease: this is where small hard stools lead to increased intestinal contractions, creating pressure which causes the inner section of the intestine to bulge through the protective outer tube of muscle which surrounds it, creating a little pouch of intestine .

Recommended Reading: How To Stop Overeating From Stress

Emotions And Constipation: Can Stress And Anxiety Mess With Your Bowels

by Salomón AcuñaJun 25, 2021Constipation

Constipation is surprisingly common. Additionally, multiple factors can result in moderate and chronic constipation. For instance, trying a bad diet often causes it. However, the link between emotions and constipation is still obscure.

Today, well evaluate how your emotions affect constipation. Similarly, well look at how this condition can cause or worsen stress.


  • 3 The holistic takeaway
  • This Is Why Stress Can Cause Diarrhea And Constipation

    Can anxiety cause constipation?

    Senior Lifestyle Editor, HuffPost Canada

    We’ve all been there: you’ve got a job interview, or a presentation to give at work, or a million and one things to do in the day and then it hits you. You’ve got the runs, or you’re constipated, and your day just went to shit.

    Dealing with anxiety on any given day is tough, but add stress poo on top of that and you just want to give up.

    But, as a new report in notes, getting the runs or constipation is actually pretty normal when one is stressed out.

    “Many people have that experience where stress causes irregularity of their bowels,” Kyle Staller, M.D., M.P.H., a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the website.

    But just because it’s common doesn’t mean that you can’t prevent it from happening on those days when you need everything to go right.

    According to Dr. Staller, the reason why you feel stress in your stomach is because your brain and gut talk to each other.

    “Your gastrointestinal tract has many nerves and is a nervous system organ much like the brain,” he said. “The brain can impact what’s going on in the gastrointestinal tract, and vice versa.”

    So when you’re stressed out, it actually causes spasms in your gut, reports Self. “If the spasms are widespread, your whole colon is contracting, everything will move along quickly, and you’ll experience diarrhea. However, if the spasms are only happening in one area, it can hold everything up and aggravate constipation.”

    Read Also: Can Stress Trigger Ms Symptoms

    What Can You Do To Stop Constipation

    Some of the best ways to control anxiety and stress-related constipation are to improve diet, consume plenty of water, and eat plenty of fibre. Ideally, it is best to avoid using laxatives unless the doctor instructs so. Regular physical activities and exercise promote bowel movements. This can control Constipation.

    • Avoid consuming foods with high sugar and foods that are fatty in nature.
    • Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol.
    • Practice Yoga and do other workouts. These can reduce stress and anxiety, and in that process can also improve bowel movement and control constipation.

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    What Causes Constipation

    Constipation can be due to a diet that doesn’t include enough water and fiber, which help the bowels move as they should. Kids who eat lots of processed foods, cheeses, white bread and bagels, and meats may become constipated fairly often.

    Sometimes, medicines like antidepressants, pain medicines, and those used to treat iron deficiency can cause constipation. Constipation can happen in babies as they move from breast milk to baby formula, or from baby food to solid food. Toddlers who are toilet training sometimes can become constipated, especially if they’re not ready.

    Some kids avoid going to the bathroom, even when they really have the urge to go. They might ignore the urges they feel because they don’t want to use a restroom away from home, stop playing a fun game, or have to ask an adult to be excused to go to the bathroom. Ignoring the urge to go makes it harder to go later.

    Stress also can lead to constipation. Kids can get constipated when they’re anxious about something, like starting at a new school or problems at home. Research has shown that emotional upsets can affect how well the gut works and can cause constipation and other conditions, like diarrhea.

    Some kids get constipated because of irritable bowel syndrome , which can happen when they’re stressed or eat certain trigger foods, which often are fatty or spicy. A child with IBS may have either constipation or diarrhea, as well as stomach pain and gas.

    Read Also: Can Stress Cause Hives And Itching

    Microbiome In The Gut

    Your digestive system is designed to contain colonies of bacteria, both good and bad. Good bacteria are necessary to break down the foods that you eat. This allows your body to effectively use the nutrients for better health.

    In healthy individuals, the good bacteria proliferate and outnumber the bad. As good bacteria thrive, there is no room for bad bacteria to take hold. Equilibrium and homeostasis refer to a proper balance within the gut microbiome.

    However, there are multiple factors that can decrease the number of good bacteria or increase the number of bad ones. Once the bad bacterial colonies begin to outnumber the good, problems can happen throughout your entire body. This includes within the brain, which regulates mental health.

    How To Get Rid Of Gas

    Exercise To Relieve Constipation Immediately / 12 Ways To Overcome ...

    Often, your gas is caused by what you eat. Food is digested primarily in your small intestine. What is left undigested is fermented in your with bacteria, fungi, and yeast, as part of digestion. This process produces methane and hydrogen, which are expelled as flatus.

    For many people, changing dietary habits is enough to alleviate gas and its accompanying symptoms. One way to determine which foods are giving you gas is by keeping a food diary. Common culprits include:

    • foods with high fat content
    • fried or spicy food
    • cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli
    • or prune juice
    • foods containing lactose, such as milk, cheese, and other dairy products
    • fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols molecules found in a wide range of foods, such as garlic and onion, that may be hard to digest
    • over-the-counter fiber drinks and supplements

    Once you figure out what food is causing the gas, you can modify your diet to avoid the culprit.

    If changing your diet doesnt completely do the trick, you have several options to try.

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    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 Can You Treat Stress

    There’s often no simple or quick fix for managing stress, but it’s important that you take steps to address it, whether that means taking up meditation or yoga, setting boundaries at work or at home, or seeing a doctor or therapist to dig deeper into the things that are causing you to feel chronically stressed out. In the meantime, you need to make sure you’re meeting your most basic needs.

    That means staying as active as possible, drinking plenty of water, and eating a healthy, balanced diet. “Increase your intake of foods high in fiber like beans, squash, berries, green vegetables, seeds, grains, high-fiber cereals, fruit, nuts, and avocados,” Dr. Clarke says. These healthy habits will likely alleviate any constipation, but if your symptoms continue for more than a few weeks, make an appointment with your doctor.

    Read Also: Can Stress And Anxiety Make You Sick

    Why Does Stress Cause Constipation

    The belly and bowels are referred to as your second brain because they so readily register stress. The gut is its own ecosystem with a large neural network. There are more neurons in your gut than in your entire spinal cord. They communicate in the gut’s ecosystem with bacteria in a complex mesh-like system. Constipation is one way that your body registers stress. It tells you this ecosystem is out of whack.

    There is an evolutionary reason for all this “poop pausing” when you’re stressed. Finding the time to go to the bathroom to do more than pee was not in the cards. So, when you’re stressed, your body presses pause on the poop. Constipation often takes turns with diarrhea in a stressed person. It’s a ping pong effect. This is one reason that it is important to avoid taking medications as a quick fix. Your body will not be able to regulate itself when you’re alternating stool softeners and anti-diarrhea medications.

    There are other reasons why stress has this “pause the go” effect. When you are stressed, you may be distracted from taking care of yourself. This may cause dietary and physical lifestyle changes, like:

    • Drinking less water

    These symptoms affect your body’s ability to produce regular bowel movements.

    Ways To Help Reduce Stress And Stomach Pain

    Does Stress Cause Constipation?

    According to a poll that tracks negative experiences of people in 115 countries, 2020 was the year the world reached its highest stress peak in over 15 years. Around 40% of the surveyed population reported experiencing significant stress.

    While you should see a doctor if your stomach pain is severe, prolonged, or recurring, there are things you can do to calm a nervous stomach and help reduce the kind of stress and anxiety that could lead to stomach problems.

    Recommended Reading: Can Diverticulitis Be Brought On By Stress

    Tips To Manage Stress And Your Emotions

    You can do some things to keep your emotions on a more even keel:

    Add activity. Go for a walk, a swim, a bike ride … any kind of movement that you enjoy. Exercise helps you release stress and feel better. It may also help with your bowel movements.

    Connect and share. Talk to friends or family members about what’s going on in your life. The stronger your social ties, the better.

    Spark joy. Find activities that appeal to you, like gardening, walking in the park, or artwork. Make time for your hobbies. Theyâre a key part of a rewarding life.

    Get mindful. Meditation, yoga, and prayer may help ease your stress. Meditation is something anyone can do by putting your attention on something for a few minutes a couple of times a day. Your mind will wander. That’s OK. Just gently return your attention to your breathing.

    Know when to get help. If your quality of life or emotions are taking a hit, and lifestyle changes donât help enough, tell your doctor. Theyâll ask you some questions about how much or how you feel stressed, sad, or unable to enjoy your normal activities.

    If your doctor thinks you might have anxiety or depression, they may refer you to a therapist. It’s important to take care of your mind and emotions, as well as your body.

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    Eat Properly To Help Your Digestion

    It’s very easy to spend our working lives eating on the move or at our desks, gulping down food between meetings and then crashing out in front of the TV with a takeaway in the evenings.

    But eating this way can play havoc with our digestive system.

    Follow some basic rules to prevent problems:

    • Do not rush your food. Take the time to eat slowly. Try putting your fork down between bites and chew each mouthful well.
    • Do not overeat. Reduce the size of your portions at mealtimes, or try eating 4 to 5 small meals instead of 3 large ones.
    • Eat regularly and try not to skip meals.
    • Avoid eating a big meal just before you go to bed. Eat your last meal at least 2 to 3 hours before lying down.
    • Make sure you have plenty of water to drink.

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