Constipation is a common gastrointestinal condition that affects people of all ages. It is characterized by infrequent, difficult, or incomplete bowel movements. While constipation itself is often uncomfortable, some people wonder if it can also cause other symptoms like fever.
What Is Constipation?
Constipation refers to bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass. A person is considered constipated if they have fewer than three bowel movements per week or if their stools are hard, dry, and difficult to pass.
Constipation can be caused by a low-fiber diet, lack of exercise, various medications, irritable bowel syndrome, and certain medical conditions. Symptoms include abdominal pain and bloating, feeling “backed up,” and straining with bowel movements.
What Causes Fever With Constipation?
In most cases, constipation itself does not directly result in a fever. However, severe or chronic constipation can sometimes cause complications that may prompt a fever:
If stool becomes severely impacted, it can block the intestines. This bowel obstruction prevents the normal passage of stool and can enable bacterial overgrowth, potentially leading to infection and fever.
Straining during bowel movements can cause swollen veins in the anus known as hemorrhoids. Infected hemorrhoids can cause a fever.
Hard stool and straining can also lead to tears in the anal lining called fissures. Like hemorrhoids, these fissures can become infected and cause fever.
Irritation of Vagus Nerve
This important nerve runs near the colon. Some research indicates that straining with constipation may irritate the vagus nerve, which may rarely trigger a brief fever.
So while simple constipation does not directly cause a fever, complications of severe, chronic constipation can sometimes prompt a fever indirectly in certain situations. Typically this fever is low-grade if it occurs.
Constipation-related fevers are usually accompanied by other concerning symptoms that warrant medical evaluation, such as:
These types of symptoms indicate issues like a possible bowel obstruction, hemorrhoid infection, or anal fissure that require prompt medical treatment. Mild fever along with manageable constipation symptoms can often be treated at home.
What Can Cause Constipation In Kids With Fever?
When a child has a fever, it is not uncommon for constipation to occur as well. There are a number of possible reasons that fever and constipation can coincide in kids. One of the most common causes is dehydration which happens as a result of the fever.
Fevers lead to increased fluid loss through sweating and breathing, which can make the body dehydrated fairly quickly. This dehydration and lack of fluid intake leads to dry, hardened stools that become difficult to pass.
When To See A Doctor?
It is advisable to contact a doctor if constipation is accompanied by:
Such symptoms suggest complications like an infection, bowel obstruction, or dehydration that warrant medical evaluation. A doctor can determine if treatment such as IV fluids, laxatives, or antibiotics is needed.
Self-care and Home Treatment
For mild fever under 100°F accompanied by manageable constipation, some self-care strategies may help:
➜ Acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever
➜ Apply a heating pad to abdomen for cramping
➜ Drink electrolyte-rich fluids like broths, juices, or sports drinks
➜ Avoid caffeine and alcohol which can dehydrate
➜ Take a warm bath to soothe abdominal muscles
➜ Try over-the-counter laxatives like Miralax if approved by the doctor
➜ Walking and light exercise can stimulate bowel movements
However, seek medical treatment promptly if symptoms worsen or persist longer than 24 hours despite home treatment. Relieving the underlying constipation is key to resolving any associated fever.
When Constipation-Related Fever Warrants Emergency Care?
In some instances, constipation and fever may represent a medical emergency requiring urgent assessment, such as:
– High fever over 102°F
– Blood pressure drops suddenly
– Severe vomiting or diarrhea resulting in dehydration
– Sudden, severe abdominal pain, especially if concentrated on one side
– Fever in infants under 3 months old
Such symptoms could indicate issues like bowel perforation, sepsis, or significant dehydration that can have serious consequences if left untreated. Seek emergency care for rapid assessment and treatment if these symptoms develop.
Some tips to help prevent problematic constipation that could lead to complications like infection include:
Relieving constipation promptly can help prevent potential complications like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and bowel obstructions that may rarely cause fever in some instances.
While constipation alone does not directly cause fever, complications from severe, chronic constipation can sometimes prompt a fever indirectly due to issues like infection from hemorrhoids or anal fissures.
However, fever with constipation warrants medical assessment, especially when additional concerning symptoms are present or the fever is high. Treating the underlying constipation is key to resolving any associated fever. Preventing constipation through diet, exercise, fluid intake, and bathroom habits can help avoid problematic complications.