Dehydration can cause constipation by resulting in dry and hard stools that are difficult to pass. It can also lead to other effects, such as diarrhea and bloating.

Dehydration occurs when the body lacks sufficient fluids to function as it should. Several factors, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive sweating, can cause it.

Constipation is a condition characterized by infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing stool, typically less than three times per week.

Inadequate fiber intake and certain lifestyle factors like reduced physical activity may lead to constipation.

Although dehydration and constipation may seem unrelated, dehydration can cause constipation. When dehydrated, the body tries to preserve water by absorbing fluids within the intestines.

This results in dry and hard stool, making it difficult to pass, leading to constipation.

Let’s go over the relationship between dehydration and constipation, including ways to relieve constipation from dehydration and when to get medical help.

Dehydration can cause constipation in several ways. When you don’t drink enough fluids, the water content in your gastrointestinal tract decreases, resulting in hard and dry stools.

Dehydration can also slow down stool movement through the intestines (colonic motility), which leads to water reabsorption from the stool.

Research indicates that dehydration can increase the risk of constipation, but it’s not the only factor. Other lifestyle factors can also lead to constipation, such as:

  • reduced physical activity
  • inadequate dietary intake of fiber, carbohydrates, and fluids
  • fluid losses due to diarrhea

If you’re concerned about constipation or experiencing persistent symptoms, consider speaking with a healthcare professional for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.

In addition to constipation, severe dehydration due to conditions like diarrhea can result in a significant loss of fluids and electrolytes, affecting the frequency and consistency of bowel movements.

Does dehydration cause diarrhea?

Dehydration doesn’t directly cause diarrhea. But some research suggests that excessive fluid loss, such as through diarrhea, can lead to dehydration.

This can affect circulating blood volume and tissue hydration levels, resulting in gastrointestinal conditions like diarrhea.

Can dehydration cause bloating?

Dehydration can cause bloating in some cases. When dehydrated, the body tries to conserve water by absorbing more fluid from the colon. This can cause the stools to become thicker and harder, leading to constipation.

Still, chronic constipation can cause bloating and discomfort as waste material builds up in the intestines.

According to a 2003 review, mild dehydration can be a risk factor of constipation in children and adults. Other factors can also contribute to constipation, such as

  • reduced physical activity
  • insufficient dietary intake of fiber, carbohydrates, and fluids
  • fluid losses from diarrhea and febrile (associated with increased body temperature) illness

Numerous research suggests a link between lower fluid intake and constipation.

To relieve constipation, you can try several home remedies:

Drink plenty of fluids

Drinking about 8–10 glasses of water per day can help soften your stools and lead to regular bowel movements.

Still, the amount of fluid you need may vary depending on factors like your age, sex, activity level, and overall health. It’s always best to listen to your body and drink water when you feel thirsty.

Avoid these foods when constipated

While increasing your fluid intake is important, certain foods may worsen constipation. These include low fiber foods like processed grains (white bread, pasta), meat, and dairy products.

Also, healthcare professionals recommend avoiding the following, which can cause dehydration:

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise helps stimulate the muscles in the intestines, resulting in contractions that can ease bowel movements.

It can also help improve overall digestion and bowel regularity. Aim for moderate-intensity activities like walking, jogging, or yoga to help ease constipation.

Try probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore the balance of gut flora.

They may help digestion and can soften stools, making them easier to pass. Eating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt or supplements can support regular bowel movements and ease constipation.

You should consider speaking with a healthcare professional if you experience:

Contact your baby’s doctor if they:

Here are some frequently asked questions about dehydration and constipation.

Will drinking more water help with constipation?

Yes, drinking more water can help reduce constipation. Drinking enough fluids keeps the stools soft and easier to pass. Water acts as a lubricant in the intestines, helping you have smooth bowel movements.

What should I drink if I’m constipated?

In addition to water, drinks like vegetable and fruit juice or clear soup can help relieve constipation. These beverages can help stimulate bowel movements and soften the stools. This would lead to regular bowel movements.

What should I do if I’m drinking water but still constipated?

If you’re still experiencing constipation despite drinking water, you may consider other remedies like increasing dietary fiber, exercising regularly, or trying over-the-counter laxatives after speaking with a healthcare professional.

Drinking enough water, dietary changes, and home remedies can help relieve constipation.

Still, if constipation continues or you experience severe symptoms, consider speaking with a healthcare professional.