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Can Constipation Cause Nausea?

Understanding Symptoms Of Constipation

Dr. Joel Warsh Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Joel Warsh on May 12, 2021

Constipation is one of the most common health issues faced by adults and our kids alike, and it can cause a variety of symptoms that relate back to your gastrointestinal health and digestive system.

Sometimes, constipation may come along with nausea, but it can be hard to determine whether the nausea is caused by the constipation, or if both things are being caused by a larger problem.

If it is your kids who are dealing with this it can be very concerning as a parent to see your children so uncomfortable, so it is important to understand the most common symptoms of constipation, and know when it is time to consult your pediatrician.

What is Constipation and Why Does it Happen?

Constipation happens when your stools become too hard or too dry to pass regularly, and these difficulties result in less than three bowel movements per week.

Constipation also entails:

  • Stools that are hard, dry, or lumpy
  • Stools that become painful to pass
  • Feeling like not all of the stool has been passed after going to the bathroom

While these are generally indications of constipation, every person’s body is different, so only you know what is normal for you or your children know what is normal for them.

Constipation can be a free-standing problem caused by certain lifestyle choices or a diet too low in fiber, but it can sometimes be a symptom of a larger medical problem, hence our emphasis on knowing what constipation is usually like.

Being able to recognize common symptoms of constipation can help you take care of your child when they experience this problem, or take them to the doctor if their toilet troubles seem to go beyond just that.

Most Common Symptoms of Constipation

Though each person and child may experience slightly different symptoms, these are the most common symptoms that constipation might bring along:

  • Feeling bloated and generally uncomfortable in your tummy area
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Abdominal pain and stomach cramps
  • Difficult and painful bowel movements

If your child is having these symptoms and has made them clear to you by making toilet-talk a regular part of the day, it is time to take some next steps to help them clear their troubles.

Oftentimes, you will easily be able to recognize constipation as the culprit, but sometimes it might not be as clear-cut, and your child’s confusing description of their potty-related difficulties will warrant a visit to the doctor’s office.

It will typically not be necessary to consult a doctor for a mild case of constipation, as we all admittedly deal with this problem at some point. However, certain symptoms or unusual longevity of the issue will be a clear indication that medical professionals are needed.

When To See a Doctor

Constipation that lasts for more than two weeks, or that is accompanied by red flag symptoms, should be treated by a doctor.

Serious symptoms that you should keep an eye out for include:

  • Fever
  • Sharp and severe stomach pains
  • Stabbing pains in the lower back
  • Vomiting

These may be signs of a more serious medical condition or a complication caused by your child having a hard time going number two.

Additionally, if your kid starts to simply refuse to go to the bathroom out of fear that their bowel movements will be painful, this, too, means a trip to the pediatrician is in order.

When your kid holds in their stool to avoid discomfort, it can result in fecal impaction or other complications, and it is best to stop these in their tracks before they get the chance to wreak havoc on your little one’s tummy.

Chronic Constipation: What It Is and How to Recognize It

Generally, a case of constipation will start to resolve within a week or so and is typically easily treated with some diet changes, home remedies, and a gentle over-the-counter laxative like Genexa’s Kids’ Senna Laxative.

In some cases, though, your child’s constipation may actually be chronic, and this requires medical attention.

Chronic constipation is very much associated with feelings of nausea, and many children who have chronic constipation actually end up with a large intestine that has been stretched out of shape… which results in your child having extremely large bowel movements, and yes, they might even be big enough to clog the toilet.

If your child does have chronic constipation, these large bowel movements will be constant and can cause extreme pain because of their potential to create anal fissures, which are small tears or rips around the anus that sometimes cause bloody stool. If this does happen, you should keep in mind that they are not necessarily dangerous, but they can be very painful and will likely frighten your child.

Recognizing a Chronic Problem

So, how can you recognize chronic constipation and put an end to it before it causes your child even more discomfort? Know the symptoms.

The most common symptoms of chronic constipation include:

  • Changes in appetite, including your child suddenly becoming full very easily
  • Constant or frequent abdominal pain and cramps
  • Irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Urinary problems as a result of an enlarged rectum leaving less room for the bladder to expand -- this means your child will need to urinate more frequently and they may get urinary tract infections or bladder infections

If you notice these changes in your child’s bathroom habits and overall attitude and behavior, it is time to call the pediatrician. Your doctor will be able to set you and your child on the right path and will come up with a treatment plan based on your kid’s symptoms.

Constipation, even if it is chronic, is usually easily resolvable, and your doctor may prescribe certain laxatives or stool softeners to make your child’s return to normal a little bit easier. Your doctor will likely also advise you to keep your child on a high fiber diet for a period of time since fiber helps keep things moving along through the digestive system. In fact, insufficient fiber may have been what caused the problem in the first place.

The Bottom Line

Constipation is common and highly treatable, and can sometimes cause nausea. Occasionally, constipation and nausea may be symptoms of certain gastrointestinal conditions, and it is important to know what symptoms indicate that a trip to the doctor is necessary. Constipation lasting longer than two weeks, or that is accompanied by nausea and vomiting or a fever, may be a sign of something more serious.

Treating constipation usually entails eating more fiber, upping water intake, and making use of stool softeners or laxatives like those offered by Genexa. If these methods fail, your doctor will be able to steer you in the right direction and get you or your child back on your feet in no time.


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