Can Stress Cause Diarrhea And Constipation
If your poop has ever acted up when youre feeling under pressure, youve probably suspected that stress diarrhea or stress constipation may be at fault. But can stress cause diarrhea and constipation, really? Unfortunately, yepyoure not imagining it. Many people have that experience where stress causes irregularity of their bowels, Kyle Staller, M.D., MPH, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, tells SELF.
Prunes Figs And Raisins
Eating prunes have been the standard home remedy for constipation, says Leann Poston, MD, the assistant dean at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine and a contributor for Ikon Health. Besides their fiber content, they contain sorbitol, which seems to have a laxative effect.
Dried plums or prunes have always been on the list for keeping bowel movements regular. Eating prunes or drinking prune juice is not just for senior citizens. A six-ounce glass of prune juice every morning could be the remedy to end constipation. If you dont like prunes, eating raisins or figs will provide a similar function. Dried fruit has more fiber than drinking prune juice, but both have a natural laxative quality.
Add Fiber To Your Diet
There is some evidence that increasing soluble fiber may prevent hard stools. It’s recommended that adults should get between 25 and 31 grams of fiber each day. However, studies show most Americans fall far short of this and get an average of about 16 grams of fiber a day.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, softening the stool. You can increase your soluble fiber by eating most fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Flaxseed, chia seeds, and psyllium are other good sources of soluble fiber.
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Lets Talk About How To Get Rid Of Constipation
Now that you know causes constipation, youre probably very anxious to learn how to get rid of constipation. We dont blame you at all! Lets get right to some of the ways that you can cure or alleviate uncomfortable or painful constipation. If you read the list above, the most of these will come as no surprise to you, as you will likely find that they correlate with the causes of constipation. What could be easier?
Increasing Your Water Intake
There really isnt an argument against drinking more water, as we mentioned before. Heres a good reason to get your recommended eight glasses a day: even downing 3 to 4 glasses of water when you first begin to feel the symptoms of constipation can be the easiest fix when it comes to how to get rid of constipation! Give it a try. Your intestines need water to keep everything in good working order. When you become dehydrated, this is what makes it difficult to go, so replenishing your hydration levels will get things moving in the right direction again.
Implementing an Exercise Routine
Knowing Which Supplements to Take
Say Goodbye to Stress
Who Doesnt Love a Good Massage?
Constipation can be uncomfortable, but dont think for even a moment that you are the only one that experiences it-theres nothing to be embarrassed about. As we established, almost everyone will experience constipation at some point, so there is no need to compound the discomfort of constipation by being wary of asking how to get rid of constipation.
Treatment Of Constipation After Surgery
The above tips for preventing constipation will also help if you develop constipation. When you are constipated, it is important to increase your fluid intake. It is also important to add fiber to your diet.
There are many OTC and prescription treatments for constipation. If you have recently had surgery, though, consult your doctor before using them.
Treatments for constipation vary in how gentle or aggressive they are. Some can cause severe abdominal distress. Overly stimulating medications may cause:
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Get More Active Every Day
Exercise helps your body move stool and gas out of the colon and may make bowel movements more regular. Exercise also releases extra sodium from the body through sweating, which can help to relieve water retention.
It is vital to drink plenty of water before and after exercising to stay hydrated, as can make constipation worse.
Treat Ibs Or Fodmap Sensitivities
Irritable bowel syndrome affects an estimated 11% of the worlds population .
It causes chronic constipation , chronic diarrhea or alternating symptoms .
Theres no known cure for IBS, but certain diets including a low-FODMAP diet can help prevent constipation.
FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are found in many fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and sweeteners. Theyre not digested well in the small intestine and ferment when they reach the bowel, causing constipation and other digestive problems.
Removing high-FODMAP foods from the diet for several weeks and then systematically reintroducing them helps to identify food intolerances. This method has been shown to relieve IBS-C symptoms for those with food sensitivities .
More information about a low-FODMAP diet for IBS can be found here.
Summary: Low-FODMAP diets have been shown to help with constipation and other digestive issues. These diets are temporary and are meant to identify food sensitivities.
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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:
How Does Constipation Happen
Constipation happens because your colon absorbs too much water from waste , which dries out the stool making it hard in consistency and difficult to push out of the body. To back up a bit, as food normally moves through the digestive tract, nutrients are absorbed. The partially digested food that remains moves from the small intestine to the large intestine, also called the colon. The colon absorbs water from this waste, which creates a solid matter called stool. If you have constipation, food may move too slowly through the digestive tract. This gives the colon more time too much time to absorb water from the waste. The stool becomes dry, hard, and difficult to push out.
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Chronic Constipation: 10 Proven Remedies For Relief
Chronic constipation is a common and uncomfortable complaint.
Its rarely dangerous and can often be prevented and treated at home with diet and lifestyle changes.
This article explores ten research-backed methods of easing chronic constipation all of which can be done yourself at home.
Constipation refers to difficulty in moving the bowels.
Most people have experienced acute constipation at least once. Its caused by many factors, including diet, stress and changes to daily routine, and usually resolves within a couple of days.
Constipation is considered chronic if symptoms are present at least 3 times per week for 3 months. Its very common and affects up to 27% of the worlds population .
Chronic constipation can be caused by medications or health conditions such as thyroid disorders, Parkinsons disease or spinal cord injuries. Structural and functional problems including slow bowel transit and pelvic floor dysfunction can also cause it.
More commonly its the result of irritable bowel syndrome . Sometimes the cause remains unknown.
This article is largely about chronic constipation.
Summary: Acute constipation is common and usually resolves within days. Constipation is considered chronic when symptoms occur at least 3 times per week for 3 months. This article focuses on chronic constipation.
Head To The Drugstore
Some people find relief with over-the-counter products, such as simethicone and activated charcoal. Of the two, simethicone is considered the better option, although experts are not quite sure how it works. Brand names for simethicone include:
- Maalox Anti-Gas
You should know that activated charcoal may result in constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Therefore, its use is somewhat controversial within the medical community.
In addition, if you decide to try activated charcoal, you may find that it turns your stool black. However, black stools from charcoal supplements are not something to be concerned about.
As with any OTC product, check with your doctor before use. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should generally avoid these products.
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How To Get Rid Of Gas
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.
What Is The Link
Science has shown a strong associative link between mental disorders and constipation. However, a causal link has not been confirmed. Studies show a slower rate of motility through the colon in patients who have anxiety. But it is not known if anxiety appears first and causes constipation or vice-versa. Several theories have been put forward to explain the link and these involve problems in the enteric nervous system and gut-brain axis.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Constipation
Different people have different bathroom habits. So someone who doesn’t have a bowel movement every day isn’t necessarily constipated. One person might go three times a day, while another might go once every 23 days.
But if you’re going less than you normally do, or if it’s often hard or painful to go, you might be constipated. A person with constipation might:
- feel full or bloated
- feel pain when having a bowel movement
- have to strain a lot to have a bowel movement
- notice a little blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet
Foods You May Need To Avoid
Most people experience some type of food intolerance in their lives, even to foods that are considered healthy and nutrient-dense.
Constipation may be a signal that your body is not tolerating certain foods at this time.
Fruits high in tannic acid can inhibit the release of chemicals that cause the intestinal muscles to push food through the gut. These fruits include bananas and persimmons, especially if theyre unripe.
For some people, including young children, dairy products can cause constipation, especially if they eat more than whats recommended.
Because dairy is often a common source of nutrients like calcium, its important to find replacement foods if theyre eliminated from the diet.
Some people find relief from constipation by eliminating FODMAPs from their diet.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are carbohydrates found in many foods typically recommended in the diet.
Consult your doctor or registered dietitian to learn if this particular diet is a good idea for you.
Keep in mind that, unlike true allergies, intolerances may be temporary.
A dietitian can guide you on how to reintroduce food safely, especially if theyre foods you enjoy or if theyre high in nutrients that you may not otherwise get in your diet.
Some nutrient-dense foods may worsen constipation for some people. Your doctor or dietitian should recommend alternative foods to ensure youre getting enough nutrients in your diet.
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Lower Stress With Mindfulness Meditation
The brain and the digestive tract are so closely linked that researchers have coined the term gut-brain axis.
Digestive symptoms like constipation can lead to anxiety and psychological stress. In turn, stress strongly affects the gut.
Chronic stress is known to modify the gut microbiota and to alter nerve action in the intestines .
Psychological stress influences the gut both directly and indirectly. Availability of coping mechanisms and social support helps determine severity of symptoms and impact on quality of life. Click to enlarge. Image source.
Its important to manage stress, both for overall health and to ease digestive symptoms.
Mindfulness meditation has shown particular promise in reducing IBS symptoms .
In one high-quality study, IBS patients who received online mindfulness training reported a 42% reduction in symptoms at 3 months. By contrast, IBS patients who had access to an online discussion forum reported a 12% increase in symptoms .
The study also showed that the benefits of mindfulness training appear to be long-lasting. Participants who completed all mindfulness training sessions reported sustained benefits 1518 months after the study ended, even without seeking additional treatment .
When To See A Doctor For Constipation
Most individuals have experienced some form of constipation in their lifetime. While constipation can go away on its own, it is helpful to know what can ease the discomfort of this common ailment. If home remedies for constipation or OTC products do not produce a bowel movement, an individual may need to seek medical attention. Untreated constipation can lead to an impacted bowel.
Constipation may be a symptom of a greater health concern, consult your doctor or healthcare professional if you have not had a bowel movement within a two- to three-week period of time. Furthermore, medical assistance may be needed if you are experiencing severe abdominal pain or concerning blood in the constipated stool. Ask your doctor about recommended home remedies for constipation and prevention of constipation in the future.
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Pay Attention To Urges To Go
If you’re like many people, you put off bowel movements during the day. There are lots of reasons for doing this. You don’t want to go to the bathroom at work. You’re too busy. You prefer going in the comfort of your own home.
However, hard stools are a sign that your poop is spending too much time in your colon. So tune in to your body’s needs and go when you have to. If you want to avoid going at work, there are ways to retrain your bowel. They include sticking to set meal times and scheduling your bowel movements for a specific time each day.
Yoga And Sleeping Positions
Yoga can stretch the stomach and digestive tract to release trapped gas and relieve bloating. Yoga poses that relieve gas include wind-removing pose, supine twist, cat-cow pose, and happy baby.
The best sleeping positions to relieve gas include keeping your head elevated, sleeping on your left side, and lying face down.
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Start Drinking More Water
How many glasses of water do you take every day? Some people can only live in one glass of water, which can be one of the main causes of constipation.
You must drink enough water every day so that you can stay hydrated. This will not only be good for your illness, but this can also be good for your skin as you can efficiently get rid of impurities and other toxins.
- If the drinking water is not doing its magic on you anymore, you can try drinking sparkling water. They can be very useful too.
- Avoid drinking carbonated drinks because they are full of sugar.
- Beware of liquid calories. They may be absorbed faster by the body.
What Else Can Cause Bloating
Constipation isnt the only bloating cause. There are many contributing factors that can lead to a buildup of excess gas in your digestive tract. These include:
- Intestinal bacteria. Sometimes bacteria cant break down all the excess carbohydrates in the stomach and small intestine. When the undigested carbohydrates reach the large intestine, the bacteria located there release excess air.
- Medical conditions. Several medical conditions can increase the occurrence of bloating. These include irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease, lactose intolerance, and celiac disease.
- Swallowing excess air. Swallowing too much air by chewing gum, drinking carbonated drinks, eating or drinking very quickly, or even wearing loose-fitting dentures can increase the amount of air building up in your gastrointestinal tract.
In addition to these bloating causes, there are many foods known to contribute to bloating:
While you dont need to avoid all of these foods , avoiding consuming an excess of them can help.
You can also try reducing your intake of certain groupings to see if your symptoms improve.
You should talk with your doctor or other healthcare provider about your constipation and constipation-related bloating if you have the following symptoms:
- frequent bouts of constipation
- sudden changes in constipation symptoms
- unexplained weight loss
Your healthcare provider will be able to recommend different treatments that can help you address your specific symptoms.
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