Does Constipation Cause Nausea?

can constipation cause nausea

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 16 out of 100 adults in the United States experience constipation. 

The symptoms of this gastrointestinal condition vary as well.

Usually, women and older adults are most at risk of experiencing these symptoms.

The question is, can they also feel nauseous?

In this article, we will discuss acute vs. chronic constipation, who are the other groups most at risk of this condition, the causes of this gut condition, its signs and symptoms, and how it is associated with nausea.

Acute vs. Chronic Constipation

Having constipation can mean differently from one to another.

Some people get to feel a whole-day discomfort while others may only feel that they are full.

However, there is this acute and chronic constipation which you should also understand. In this section, we will differentiate these two.

1) Acute Constipation

Acute constipation is also known as short-term constipation. It is infrequent and it may only last for a few days. Generally, it begins suddenly and you can notice it easily. Some of its characteristics include:

  • May last for three days
  • Not caused by an underlying medical problem
  • Caused by a sudden change in diet and eating routine, traveling, lack of exercise
  • Medication-induced constipation

According to a study from China, for those who are having acute constipation, foods rich in dietary fiber can be consumed.

If you want instant relief, over-the-counter laxatives are advisable for treating constipation.

If you want to prevent this acute gut condition, regularly exercising can help.

2) Chronic Constipation

Moving on, long-term or chronic constipation leads to a more disruptive personal life. It can be described using the following criteria: 

  • May last for more than three months to years
  • Passing fewer than three stools per week
  • Hard stools and dry stools
  • Rectum blockage
  • Fecal impaction and inability to completely empty the rectum

According to a study from Missouri, It is important to note that this chronic type is not relieved by a change in diet.

Instead, it can only be addressed with the help of a medical doctor and can be relieved by prescription medications such as bulk laxatives.

Who is Most At Risk of Constipation?

Sometimes, you may wonder how come other people who used to have the same lifestyle and diet as you do not experience constipation.

Well, the answer is that many factors can increase the chance of you experiencing it.

According to Harvard Medical School, more than 2.5 million individuals in the United States have to visit their medical doctors for this gut condition.

These individuals who are most at risk of this gastrointestinal disorder include the following:

  • Female
  • Individuals above 65 years old
  • Those who do not engage in physical activities
  • Individuals with a physical disability, thus, are bedridden
  • It may be caused by an underlying medical condition

There are also some reports that pregnant women are also at risk of constipation.

In another study from Missouri, it was reported that one of the common complaints of pregnant women is constipation and this is because of physiologic and anatomic changes in the gastrointestinal tract.


Generally, if you do not have a healthy diet, lack physical activity, and take some medications, your gut is affected.

However, aside from these, there are other causes as well.

Some of these will be discussed in this section.

1) Pelvic floor dysfunction

When you have this condition, your pelvic floor muscles cannot relax or coordinate well.

Eventually, this can lead to difficulty in emptying your bowels.

According to a study from the United States, the possible causes of pelvic floor dysfunction include obesity, menopause, and obesity.

2) Metabolic problems

If you have metabolic problems, you are at risk of diabetes and hypothyroidism.

Based on the book Primary Care for Premature Infant, these conditions, including celiac disease can result in constipation. 

3) Neurologic problems

Neurologic problems can also cause this gut condition.

Consistent with a study from Denmark, some of these neurological diseases include epilepsy, seizures, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Dementia.

4) Anal and rectum tears

According to a study from Texas, when you pass stool, anal fissures may occur. Unfortunately, the more tears your anus and rectum get, the higher chance for you to experience stomach cramping and pain.

5) Bowel stricture or intestinal obstruction

According to a study from the United States, intestinal obstruction, bowel stricture, or narrowing of the colon is associated with stomach cramping. 

6) Mental health Problems

Mental health issues such as depression, eating disorders, and anxiety can cause constipation.

Based on a study from the Netherlands, aside from reducing the quality of life, these mental health problems can also cause complications.

In this study, 20.3% of those struggling with mental health issues experienced constipation.

7) Other bowel diseases

Apart from the causes above, other inflammatory bowel movements can also cause constipation. Some of these include Crohn’s Disease, colon cancer, diverticulosis, and irritable bowel syndrome.

8) Nervous system abnormalities

Understand that your gut health plays an important role in your body’s detoxification process.

This means that the abnormalities in the nervous system contribute to constipation, especially a child’s constipation.

Some of the CNS conditions that can alter gastrointestinal health as well as nausea include urinary tract infections.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of constipation vary. Some may experience mild ones while others can experience chronic ones. For more information, take a look at the following symptoms in this section.

1) Fewer Bowel Movements

Based on a study from the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, having a bowel movement less than once a week is already a sign of this gut health. Eventually, as the digested food stays in the colon, you may experience nausea.

2) Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal health issue and this disorder affects the large intestine.

One of the components of IBS includes constipation

Additionally, this constipation is associated with stomach pain.

With regards to nausea and constipation associated with IBS, these are usually caused by a feeling of fullness or bloating after eating.

3) Abdominal Pain or Cramps

Abdominal cramps or pain is usually one of the common symptoms of constipation. It can come with or without bloating. 

Additionally, when abdominal pain occurs, nausea may follow, especially in children. The reason behind this is that this pain may be due to excessive eating.

4) Decreased Appetite

Another symptom of constipation includes decreased appetite.

When you feel that you are losing your appetite, the tendency is that you will also experience heartburn. Eventually, this heartburn can induce nausea. 

5) Lethargy

Lethargy is also one of the common symptoms of constipation.

Usually, lethargy is caused by a loss of appetite. Remember, if you do not have enough appetite, you can be dehydrated. 

So, if you feel that you are experiencing gastrointestinal problems, make sure to prevent dehydration to avoid worsening your condition.

How Are Constipation and Nausea Related?

How nausea and constipation are related depends on certain factors. The main ones include the following:

  • Intestinal contractions
  • Acute gastrointestinal disease
  • Digestive system abnormalities
  • Poorly coordinated signals between the gut and brain

According to a study from the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), diseases of your bowel movements such as inflammatory bowel disease can cause nausea. In this study, nausea affects 38% of women and 27% of men.

Additionally, constipation and nausea are both triggered after you eat. When you eat too much, your bowel movement may be affected. 

It is also worth mentioning that constipation might be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occasional heartburn, migraines, and functional dyspepsia.

Unfortunately, all of these can trigger nausea.

OTC Medications for Nausea

If your body cannot tolerate nausea, there are over-the-counter products that you can consider. Some of these medications include the following:

  • Pepto Bismol
  • Dramamine
  • Emetrol

Apart from these, there are also prescription ones.

However, only a medical doctor or a healthcare professional will decide on what prescription drugs for nausea will be used for your health conditions. 

Final Thoughts

Indeed, constipation can cause nausea but not directly. Instead, there are other factors associated with this gut condition that subsequently lead to nausea.

For example, when there is gut inflammation, the colon prevents the regular passing of stools.

Aside from these, other factors include intestinal obstruction, impaired normal muscle contractions, infections in the intestinal tract, and abdominal swelling.

Apart from fewer bowel movements associated with pain, there are other symptoms of muscle spasm that cause nausea and these include lethargy and decreased appetite.

Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent it.

The first one is by using OTC stool softeners, prescription stool softeners such as osmotic laxatives, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, consuming more fiber, and incorporating physical activity into your daily routine.