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Constipation may sometimes lead to feeling nauseous. There are a number of reasons for this, and we aim to help you determine what may be driving your symptoms, as well as to suggest some simple home remedies to try.
Nausea can be an unpleasant associated side effect of constipation.
IBS is one of the main causes of constipation and associated nausea due to its impact on altered digestion, as well as abdominal cramps and discomfort. You can read more about IBS on our sister site, the Probiotics Learning Lab.
A build-up of toxins is also thought to be a contributing factor in the link between constipation and nausea. The bowel is essentially a key organ of detoxification and when bowel motility is reduced and you are not passing movements regularly (at least daily) there is an inevitable build-up of toxins which are then reabsorbed by the body, and these circulating toxins can lead to nausea. You may also notice that your skin is affected by constipation, possibly leading to acne etc. Find out more about skin health and the gut in the Probiotics Learning Lab.
Adding a slice or two of fresh lemon to hot water and drinking first thing in the morning and before meals can help to stimulate bile flow, stomach HCL and digestive enzymes which may help relieve nausea and also help get the bowels moving.
Apple cider vinegar is a traditional yet very effective remedy for boosting digestive function, and may also help relieve nausea and sickness. It is worth starting with a small amount of apple cider vinegar and building it up gradually, particularly if you have a sensitive system, as it may prove to be very effective and it is a good idea to let your system get used to it. Start with a 1/4 capful of vinegar in a small amount of water approximately 30 minutes before meals and then increase to a capful if well-tolerated.
There are certain foods that may exacerbate constipation that may well lead to a sensation of sickness. Dairy foods, as well as wheat, are often regarded as common trigger foods for those with a food intolerance. It might be worth trying a dairy-free diet for a period of time to see if it helps alleviate your symptoms. There are plenty of good quality, dairy free alternatives available in both independent health food shops and some supermarkets and it is certainly worth experimenting. Try oat, almond or coconut milk for example in place of cow's milk.
Both peppermint and fennel tea are considered to be digestive aids, and have a soothing and carminative effect on the digestive system. This can help to reduce symptoms of IBS such as cramping, and also help digestion with the aim of improving constipation.
Ginger is historically renowned for its benefits as an anti-emetic (anti-sickness) herb. Try grating it into hot water, or eating sugar-free ginger biscuits to help alleviate a feeling of nausea.
Possibly not for the faint hearted, enemas can be extremely effective. An enema is a procedure involving the introduction of liquid into the colon, via the anus. As the liquid fills the lower intestine, there is sensation of fullness followed by an urgency to pass a stool. It will result in a complete evacuation of the bowels. An enema may be carried out by a medical professional for severe constipation if laxatives are not suitable or prove unsuccessful. They can also be carried out by Colonic Hydrotherapists as a complementary therapy, and there are also home kits available to buy should you feel comfortable in doing so. You may wish to seek advice from a healthcare professional to find out more information, and to determine whether an enema is suitable for you.
If your constipation is severe (you have not passed a stool for several days) and you are also experiencing vomiting and/or a fever, we would recommend seeking advice from your GP. It is possible that there may be some kind of bowel blockage or obstruction. A bowel obstruction may occur when either the small or large intestine becomes partly or completely blocked - this prevents all fluid, food and gas from moving through the intestines, causing severe pain as well as nausea and vomiting. A blockage may be caused by a tumour, or scar tissue as well as severe constipation and is more likely to occur in conditions such as IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) or diverticulitis.
Impaction occurs due to a build-up of solid, immobile bulk or faeces as a result of chronic constipation. There may also be overflow diarrhoea as the liquid stool tries to pass around the solid stool. It is likely to cause considerable abdominal pain, a severe loss of appetite as well as nausea and vomiting. If you suspect you may be suffering from faecal impaction, you are strongly advised to seek medical advice.