Constipation Bloating: How Can Constipation Cause Painful Bloating?

What is Constipation Bloating?

Put in the simplest term, constipation bloating is when constipation leaves one feeling bloated. Bloating, however, can be caused by either constipation or a variety of other reasons.

Constipation Bloating

What is Constipation?

Normal bowel movement differs from person to person as some people have 3 bowel movements a day and others 3 times a week. When a person, however, has bowel movements less than 3 times a week, they are normally considered to be suffering from constipation.

Constipation happens when stool moves through the digestive tract too slowly. As a result, the stool becomes harder and drier because the colon absorbs too much water from the stool, making it difficult to expel the stool.

It is estimated that at least 2.5 million people in the US annually have complaints relating to constipation. While constipation is found among all ages and populations, it is more prevalent in older people due to the lack of adequate movement and slower metabolisms. Women are more prone during pregnancies and after childbirth as well as due to hormonal changes.

Image source

What Causes Constipation?

There are a plethora of reasons why constipation occurs. The most well-known causes are:

Lifestyle choices

  • Too little fiber in your diet. Dietary fiber is indispensable for healthy digestion and smooth stools. Fibers act like a sponge and retain moisture. This keeps poop soft and supple. Fiber also stimulates bowel movement. Examples of fiber-rich foods are vegetables, fruit, and whole-grain products.
  • Not drinking enough water. It is important to drink enough water for a healthy gut. Drinking too little makes poop hard and dry.
  • Lack of exercise. Exercise stimulates bowel movement. If you move little, the intestine also moves less. As a result, poop stays in the colon longer than necessary and can cause constipation.
  • Changes to the daily routine. Usually, when traveling, there are changes in when we eat, what we eat, access to toilet facilities infrequent, and a lack of exercise. Try to eat high-fiber foods and drink lots of water. Exercise should the opportunity present itself.
  • Consuming too much milk and dairy products. Some children get constipated due to their inability to tolerate the protein in cow milk. No fiber in cheese but the fat can worsen constipation or even cause it.
  • Stress. When a person is stressed, it brings about spasms in the intestines that could either be widespread or in a single area. The effect of spasms in a widespread area can lead to diarrhea because the whole colon contracts and everything move through the gut quickly. Spasms in one area only keep everything from moving which can either cause constipation or aggravate it.
  • Not going to the toilet when the urge is there. There are times when the timing or facilities (a public toilet, far from a toilet) make it awkward to go. Holding back on going to the toilet occasionally is harmless. When holding in poop becomes a habit, however, it may result in becoming constipated and may lead to more serious conditions such as fecal impaction (stool becomes stuck in the colon), gastrointestinal perforation (hole in the wall of the gastrointestinal tract), or distension (measurable change in the circumference of a person’s abdomen).

Medications

  • Opioid pain medications for major pain or after surgery like Norco, Dilaudid, Vicodin, or Tylenol.
  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Aleve, Advil, ibuprofen, etc.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants such as Prozac and Elavil
  • Antacids that contain calcium and aluminum
  • Calcium supplements
  • Iron supplements
  • Antihistamines such as Benadryl and Zyrtec
  • Blood pressure meds such as Cardizem, Procardia, Calan SR, and Tenormin (beta-blocker)
  • Medications for urinary incontinence like Detrol and Ditropan XL
  • Psychiatric disorders medications like Clorazil and Zyprexa
  • Epilepsy meds such as phenytoin and gabapentin
  • Diuretics like furosemide
  • Antinausea meds like Zofran

Medical conditions

  • Endocrine diseases. Conditions such as hypothyroidism (caused by an insufficient amount of the thyroid hormone in the bloodstream resulting in the metabolism slowing down), diabetes (over-production of glucose in the bloodstream), uremia (toxins build up in the blood due to kidneys that stopped filtering out toxins through urine), hypercalcemia (calcium levels in the blood are too high).
  • Colorectal cancer. Constipation and/or any changes in the shape or color of the stool may be an indication of colon cancer. When the stool is very dark, red, or maroon it may point to the presence of blood in the stool.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A common disorder that impacts the large intestine. The intestinal wall is hypersensitive to stimuli and reacts to this with cramps and pain. The abdominal pain is often accompanied by constipation and/or diarrhea. Since constipation is commonplace, most people will experience it at one time or another. Typical signs associated with IBS are when either any abdominal pain gets better once stool has been passed or a feeling that the bowel movement is incomplete occurs.
  • Diverticular disease. Diverticulosis is the bulging out of pouches (known as diverticula) from the colon wall. Not all people have symptoms when this happens, but those who do may experience symptoms such as cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Should the pouches (diverticula) swell up or get infected, it may cause diverticulitis which, if mild, can be treated with antibiotics.
  • Outlet dysfunction constipation (pelvic floor dysfunction). The pelvic floor muscles are needed as they assist in the release of stool. Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common condition where you’re unable to correctly relax and coordinate the muscles in your pelvic floor to urinate or to have a bowel movement – Source
  • Neurological disorders. Neurological diseases that people suffer from include those people with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and muscular dystrophy (neuromuscular disease).
  • Lazy bowel syndrome. The condition is also known as slow transit constipation (STC). Waste moves through the digestive system very slowly due to a colon that has poor contraction resulting in retaining stool.
  • Intestinal (bowel) obstruction. Defined as “A partial or complete block of the small or large intestine that keeps food, liquid, gas, and stool from moving through the intestines in a normal way.” Some of the causes include colon cancer, intestinal adhesions that may develop after abdominal or pelvic surgery, hernia (which happens when parts of the intestine protrude into a different part of the body).
  • Structural gastrointestinal disorders. 5 of these GI disorders include:
  1. anal fistula (an abnormal connection between two hollow spaces such as an infected cavity in the anus, to an opening on the skin around the anus),
  2. colonic atresia (a birth defect link in which part of the colon is completely blocked or missing),
  3. volvulus ( when a loop of intestine twists around itself and the mesentery that supports it, resulting in a bowel obstruction), intussusception (the inversion of one portion of the intestine within another),
  4. imperforate anus (congenital (present from birth) defect in which the opening to the anus is missing or blocked), or
  5. malrotation (a condition that is congenital (present at birth) and results from a problem in the normal formation of the fetal intestines).
  • Multiple organ diseases, such as amyloidosis (which happens with the build-up of a protein called amyloid in organs of the body interfering with those organs’ normal functions), lupus (an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own organs and tissues), and scleroderma (an autoimmune disorder in which normal tissue is replaced with thick tissue with extra collagen.
  • Pregnancy. During pregnancy, an increase in the progesterone hormone brings about the relaxation of the muscles in the body which includes the intestines. This causes slower digestion which may cause constipation.

Symptoms of Constipation

Some of the most common symptoms of constipation include:

  • Having fewer than three bowel movements in a week
  • Passing stools that are hard, dry, and/or lumpy
  • Bowel movements are painful and/or difficult
  • Experience stomach ache or cramps
  • Feeling bloated and nauseous
  • Feels like there still is stool in the rectum

What is Bloating?

Everyone suffers from abdominal bloating from time to time. It is an unpleasant feeling that often arises after a meal.

With a bloated abdomen, the gastrointestinal tract is swollen due to a disturbance of digestion or a higher presence of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. This causes a bloated feeling in the abdomen which may cause pain (mild to intense) and cramps in the abdomen. Movement of the bowel may bring significant relief from the pain.

Can Constipation Cause Bloating?

Yes. Constipation is actually one of the more common causes of bloating. As a matter of fact, a person could be constipated without even realizing it. Even passing stool regularly does not mean you are not constipated. Bloating and gas are the results of gut bacteria that ferment in the colon when stool, due to constipation, is trapped in the colon.

Other Causes of Bloating

Bloating is due to the build-up of gas in the digestive tract. Constipation, however, is not the only cause of bloating. There are other factors also that can contribute to the build-up of extra gas in the digestive tract.

Bloating is not only caused by constipation. Other factors that can cause bloating include:

Common factors:

  • eating and/or drinking too fast (swallow too much air)
  • eating and/or drinking too much (swallow too much air)
  • eating/drinking foods and drinks that cause gas, i.e. cabbage, broccoli, apple and pear juices, and carbonated drinks.
  • chewing gum (swallow air)
  • smoking (swallow air)
  • heartburn (acid reflux)
  • gaining weight (extra weight may go to the belly leaving insufficient room for digestive processes)
  • menstrual cycle (estrogen and progesterone hormones interact with the digestive tract)

Medical conditions that can cause bloating:

  • Stomach infection: due to viral infections (rotavirus and norovirus) and bacteria like Escherichia coli (which lives in the intestines) and Helicobacter pylori (this bacteria infects the stomach generally in childhood years).
  • Diverticulitis: Diverticula (pouches) form in the large intestine. The diverticula may get inflamed and infected when either feces or food not yet digested fully obstructs the openings of the pouches.
  • IBS: sufferers may be very sensitive to gas as it can bring about cramps, pain, and diarrhea.
  • SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth): In this condition, excess bacteria feed on nutrients. This may lead to malabsorption with the possibility of breaking down the mucosal barrier of the gut. This can then lead to inflammation that may cause bloating.
  • Gastroparesis: is a condition where there is partial paralysis of the stomach leading to a delay in the emptying of the stomach. Muscles and nerves do not possess the normal strength and coordination needed to move stomach contents through the digestive system causing bloating.
  • Gynecological conditions: such as endometriosis. Happens when endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus. This tissue can lead to blockage of the fallopian tubes. When the fallopian tubes are blocked cysts may form and cause bloating.
  • Ascites: a condition where fluid builds up in the abdominal cavity in a gradual manner. Liver disease is generally the cause of ascites. The accumulation of fluid in the abdomen can cause a person to feel bloated.
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI): is when the pancreas can no longer produce sufficient digestive enzymes when food is digested. Since food is no longer properly digested it may result in bloating.

QUICKLY AND PERMANENTLY ELIMINATE CONSTIPATION: Consticleanse clears excess waste that may be stuck in the colon, improves digestive system functions, and encourages more regular, healthier elimination on a daily basis.

How to Best Treat Constipation Bloating

To get rid of constipation-related bloating, there are several things you can do. Some of the more common constipation and bloating treatments that can address constipation are:

Stool softeners are actually emollient laxatives that assist in treating constipation by wetting and softening the stool.

Only people suffering from mild constipation will, however, benefit. Stool softeners can be taken on a regular basis due to their gentleness which is exactly why it is not at all effective as a constipation treatment option.

The active ingredients in stool softeners are docusate sodium and docusate calcium. Examples of popular stool softeners are Colace and Dulcolax.

Laxatives. Laxatives come in different forms such as capsules, tablets, granules, liquids, suppositories, etc. There are 4 types of oral laxatives namely:

Bulk-forming laxatives work by their absorption of liquid in the intestines. The laxatives then swell from the liquid, forming a bulky stool. This bulky mass then stimulates the bowel which makes passing stool easier.

Active ingredients in bulk-forming laxatives may include psyllium, methylcellulose, and sterculia. Brand names include Citrucel, Metamucil, and Fibercon.

Osmotic laxatives are primarily used for constipation but also for colon cleanses. It works by causing the fluid (water) in the intestines to increase. The extra fluid helps to soften the stool making it easier to expel.

The 3 types of osmotic laxatives are

  1. Macrogol: comes in powder form mixed with water. Brand names include Movicol, molaxole, Cosmocol, etc.
  2. Lactulose: comes in a sweet syrup form. Brand name Duphalac.
  3. Polymer: The active ingredient in the polymer type is polyethylene glycol. Examples of polymer osmotic laxatives containing polyethylene glycol are Miralax and GlycoLax.

Stimulant laxatives. These work by stimulating the muscles that line the intestines. Well-known brands are Dulcolax and Senokot.

Lubricant laxatives. Intestines and stools are coated to hinder the loss of water. Since the stool is lubricated it moves through the intestines a lot easier.

The active ingredient in lubricant laxatives is mineral oil, for example, Kondremul, which can negatively affect the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, AND K when taken regularly.

Get moving. Taking a walk or twisting from side to side can help in reducing the build-up of gas in the digestive tract. Breathing exercises used in yoga and pilates can help, as well as stretching exercises.

Change your diet. Cutting down or eliminating foods and drinks that contribute to constipation and bloating can greatly reduce or even prevent constipation bloating. Be mindful of what you eat. Add more vegetables, grains, beans, and fiber to your diet.

Drinks lots of water. Since dehydration can cause constipation, it is recommended we drink at least 6-8 glasses a day.

Avoid carbonated drinks. These most certainly contribute to that bloated feeling.

Lactase tablets. If you suffer from lactose intolerance, lactase tablets can assist in breaking down the lactose found in dairy products like milk and cheese and hinder bloating, diarrhea, and gas caused by the intolerance.

Quit chewing gum. As mentioned, when we chew, we swallow air which leads to gas in the tummy which leads to bloating.

Image source

How to Prevent Constipation Bloating

When our lifestyle choices seem to be the main culprit that causes constipation bloating, it becomes clear that in order to prevent constipation-related bloating, some lifestyle changes will greatly prevent bloating:

  • Eat more fiber. Ease into adding more fiber to your diet. Do not, however, overdo it as too much fiber could add to your bloating woes.
  • Drink more water. Water adds bulk to stool, making it easier to expel.
  • Exercise more. Daily participation in some activities like walking, running, swimming, etc. assists in getting bowels moving.
  • Cut down on dairy products.
  • Address stress-causing factors in your life.
  • Work on improving your toiler routine. Do not hold back when the urge to go to the toilet is there.
  • Quit smoking and eating gu. Both cause a person to swallow air which leads to bloating
  • Avoid alcohol and carbonated drinks.
  • Eat probiotic foods or take a probiotic supplement such as P3-OM

You need to understand what causes your constipation bloating. When a medical condition is a cause, it is best to consult with a medical practitioner to find the best treatment for your constipation bloating.

 

Disclaimer

You are encouraged to talk to your doctor before taking dietary supplements. Any mention in this article of a specific product does not represent an endorsement of that product.