Constipation is often defined as infrequent bowel movements, with many people having fewer than three bowel movements a week. It’s also described as the feeling of incomplete evacuation, or like you still have more stool to pass.
Nausea, on the other hand, is best described as an uneasiness or queasiness in the stomach.
Although these conditions can occur separately, they sometimes occur together as symptoms of a specific underlying problem.
1. Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects the large intestines. It can cause problems such as stomach pain, gas, bloating, nausea, and constipation. Some people with IBS also experience bouts of diarrhea.
IBS is a chronic condition, but it doesn’t damage the large intestines or cause colorectal cancer.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown. It may be caused by an imbalance of good bacteria in the gut, inflammation in the intestines, or abnormalities with the nerves in the digestive system.
Thirst isn’t the only symptom of dehydration. It can also cause digestive problems.
Dehydration is when your body isn’t getting the fluids it needs to function properly.
In the digestive tract, a lack of fluid can cause dry, hard stools, which are difficult to pass. As your body loses fluid, you may experience other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, and confusion.
If you have constipation and nausea, and you’ve recently started taking a new medication, the drug might be the culprit.
Drug side effects are common, with some medications causing constipation, diarrhea, as well as stomach pain and nausea. Side effects sometime improve after a few days or weeks.
4. An unbalanced diet
Eating too much red meat and not enough fruits and vegetables can also cause constipation, due to a low fiber intake.
Keep in mind that some people have difficulty digesting certain meats, like beef. Poor digestion can also trigger stomach problems, like nausea, gas, or bloating.
Pregnancy is also responsible for many digestive problems.
Some women experience constipation due to an increase in the hormone progesterone. This increase can slow intestinal contractions, resulting in fewer bowel movements. Compression on the intestines from the growing womb can also make it difficult to pass stool.
Some women also experience morning sickness during pregnancy, which can include bouts of nausea and vomiting. Morning sickness may only occur during the first trimester. For some women, it can last throughout the entire pregnancy.
6. Anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression can also trigger gastrointestinal disturbances. When you feel anxious, your body releases hormones and other stress chemicals. These substances can affect your digestive tract, causing symptoms like nausea and constipation.
Your digestive system can also slow down during periods of heightened stress or anxiety. As a result, waste can’t quickly pass through the intestines.
Feelings of anxiety and nervousness can also cause queasiness or a sick feeling in the stomach.
Depression can cause constipation for a variety of reasons. People who are depressed might stay in bed and have decreased physical activity, which, in turn, can lead to constipation.
People with depression may also change their eating habits. They may start to eat a lot of foods that are high in sugar and fat or not eat much at all. Such lifestyle and diet changes can contribute to constipation.
7. Lactose intolerant
Lactose intolerance is a condition where a person has difficulty digesting the sugar in milk. Most people experience diarrhea with this condition, but others have constipation, nausea, gas, and bloating.
Problem foods include milk, ice cream, cheese, sour cream, and any other item with dairy as an ingredient.
8. Colon cancer
Colon cancer occurs when cancerous cells or a mass develops in the intestines. A mass can cause a blockage, triggering constipation in some people. Other symptoms of colon cancer include bloody stools, unexplained weight loss, nausea, and stomach pain.
If you have constipation and nausea, identifying the underlying problem can help you determine the right treatment.
If you have irritable bowel syndrome, recognizing foods that trigger your symptoms may improve both constipation and nausea.
IBS triggers differ from person to person. Too much fiber may trigger symptoms in some people, whereas other people may develop symptoms after consuming chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, fried food, or after eating large meals.
If you’re lactose intolerant, removing dairy from your diet may stop nausea and constipation. Use dairy substitutes instead. These include almond or cashew milk, cashew ice cream, or dairy-free cheeses, yogurt, and sour cream.
If you’re pregnant, keep a food diary to determine which foods trigger nausea, and then avoid these foods.
You can also ask your doctor about over-the-counter and prescription medications to improve morning sickness. These can include vitamin B-6, doxylamine, antiemetic drugs that prevent vomiting.
more tips to help relieve constipation and nausea
Simple adjustments don’t only treat constipation and nausea, but they also prevent it from occurring again.
- Exercise. Move at least 30 minutes three to five times a week to stimulate regular intestinal contractions.
- More fluids. Increase your intake of water, juice, and tea.
- Reduce stress and anxiety. Practice deep-breathing exercises. You may also want to talk to your doctor about taking anti-anxiety medication.
- Decrease or eliminate fried and fatty foods. Avoid eating too much fat and oils, which can aggravate digestive symptoms.
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat fruits and vegetables or take fiber supplements. Adults need between 21 and 38 grams of fiber per day, says the Mayo Clinic.
- Take a lactase enzyme before consuming dairy. Use lactase enzyme to help your body digest the sugar in dairy.
- Switch medications. Ask your doctor about an alternative medication or adjusting your dose to help relieve symptoms.
- Take probiotics. Taking probiotic supplements helps restore good bacteria in your gut and may improve constipation and nausea.
- Don’t skip meals. Having an empty stomach may cause nausea.
- Avoid foods certain foods. Don’t eat foods that you have difficulty digesting.
Nausea and constipation that occur together can be unbearable. Between lifestyle changes, home remedies, and medication, you can improve symptoms of both conditions and resolve digestive discomfort.