What It Might Mean If You Have Constipation Pain

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what it means if you have constipation pain

It's not a good feeling.

We've all been there. Whether it's from something we ate, or another bodily reaction, we're constipated. And for as long as constipation lasts, we're uncomfortable, bloated, and, sometimes, in excrutiating pain.

It's gross and weird and uncomfortable, sure. But is it supposed to be painful? And what does it mean if we're suffering from constipation pain?

“Constipation is having fewer than three bowel movements a week that are hard, lumpy, or difficult and painful to pass, and it usually does lead to fullness, gassiness and bloating, but not necessarily pain,” says Constantine George, M.D., who is Board Certified in Internal Medicine & Pediatrics.

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What causes constipation? 

It usually occurs when the colon absorbs too much water from a stool that is in the large intestine, causing them to become hard and dry. Though there isn't necessarily a precise cause linked to certain conditions, there's no doubt that it can be difficult to have a proper bowel movement.

If you do start to have abdominal pain and it becomes more severe, you should see your doctor immediately for constipation relief, as it could be something more serious than just constipation. This may include, as Dr. George warns, “irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, appendicitis or even gallbladder infection called cholecystitis.”

In addition to these, there are also other reasons you could be experiencing constipation pain.

1. IBS

“You may have irritable bowel syndrome or IBS if you have abdominal pain, cramping or bloating, excess gas, diarrhea or constipation (sometimes you can alter between diarrhea and constipation), or mucus in the stool,” advises Dr. George.

What is IBS? This common disorder affects between 25 and 45 million people in the U.S. But there are other conditions similar to IBS called IBD and crohn's disease.

According to Dr. George, “Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term that describes conditions of chronic inflammation of your digestive tract. Types of IBD include ulcerative colitis and crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis causes long-lasting inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum, and crohn’s disease is a type of IBD that is characterized by inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which often spreads deep into affected tissues.”

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2. Appendicitis

Appendicitis is the inflammation of your appendix and is the most common cause of abdominal pain that will require surgery. It's important to seek medical attention immediately if you believe you have a ruptured appendix, as this can be fatal if left untreated.

“The pain begins near your belly button, then moves lower and towards the right. Pain get worse when you move around, cough or breathe deeply, pain is severe and occurs suddenly and happens before other symptoms. Symptoms can be different for each individual but will also include loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, fever and/or swelling of abdomen,” Dr. George says.

3. Diet

Constipation is so common, it's seen in almost everyone — babies, children, adults and seniors.

"Some of the most common reasons for constipation include dehydration, not drinking enough water, lack of fiber, not getting enough fresh fruits and vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables), drinking too much caffeine (which acts as a diuretic) or too much alcohol (which also acts as a diuretic and can cause dehydration or exacerbate constipation)," warns Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, a Family and Emergency Medicine doctor.

4. Hemorrhoids 

Some people with constipation strain so hard to have a bowel movement they develop secondary hemorrhoids, which are very painful and can even result in blood in the stool. The good news is, it’s treatable.

What can you do? "Using over-the-counter supplements such as Metamucil or MiraLAX, and stool softener suppositories ease the pain," advises Dr. Nesheiwat.

5. Gallbladder infection

“If you start to feel a sharp, sudden pain in the upper right area of your belly, or if you feel pain in your back or below your right shoulder blade, you may have a gallbladder infection called cholecystitis. Some other symptoms to watch out for include nausea, vomiting, fever, bloating, yellow skin or eyes called jaundice, and loose light-colored bowel movements,” says Dr. George.

RELATED: 3 Things Your Poop (Yes, Your Poop) Says About You And Your Health

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her at alywalansky@gmail.com.

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