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Constipation After Diarrhea & Vomiting: Is It Normal?

Constipation After Diarrhea & Vomiting: Is It Normal?

Experiencing constipation after diarrhea and vomiting is not uncommon. Once people experience this, it’s natural for them to worry as they are not aware of what condition it is they might have. Also, they may be uncertain of whether or not it is a severe condition. There is one health condition that would likely lead to constipation after diarrhea and vomiting, this is what is known as post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome.

Why does constipation after diarrhea and vomiting happen?

Constipation after diarrhea and/or vomiting happens due to infections or psychological problems. This kind of disorder is called post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome (PI-IBS) and this usually occurs in people who have previously been diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis.

constipation after diarrhea and vomiting

The likelihood of post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome from happening ranges between 5% and 36%.

The symptoms of post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome would be:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • For some people, constipation

Some people experience these unpleasant symptoms even if they have already been treated for viral gastroenteritis or other bacterial infections such as E.coli, Salmonella, C.difficile, Campylobacter, or Shigella.

The uncomfortable symptoms persist and their digestive functions do not go back to normal. In this case, they must seek medical help as soon as possible.

It has been determined that bacterial infections are the main cause of post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome, with that being said, people must avoid the following since this is where bacterial infections are most prevalent:

  • Contaminated food and water
  • Contact with infected people and animals

Is constipation after diarrhea and vomiting normal?

Constipation after diarrhea and/or vomiting is normal. There are several people who still experience abdominal discomfort and constipation would be one of those said discomforts. The symptoms people experience in post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome are similar to irritable bowel syndrome, but it is important to note that these two are not the same.

The symptoms in post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome are usually less severe and would go away after some time. So people should not worry too much about experiencing constipation after diarrhea and/or vomiting.

In addition, if an individual has previously had viral gastroenteritis, experiencing constipation afterward is also a normal occurrence.

Since some of the symptoms of viral gastroenteritis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting, feeling constipated afterwards is a common thing to experience.

How common is PI-IBS?

People who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome are most likely to get PI-IBS by a percentage of 6-17%. On the other hand, individuals that have been diagnosed with bacterial gastroenteritis have a 10% likelihood of getting PI-IBS.

There are cases wherein diarrhea is the predominant symptom being experienced, this is given the name IBS-D. In other cases wherein diarrhea and constipation happen alternatively is called IBS-M. Lastly, the cases in which constipation is predominant is called IBS-C and this is the least common

What are the risk factors?

  • Duration and severity of initial illness
  • Capability of bacteria to produce toxins
  • Psychological factors, gender, and age

How can post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome be addressed?

Post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome can be addressed by treating the symptoms directly rather than treating the disorder as a whole.

There is no known management for post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome, so this is why the treatments focus on treating the symptoms directly.

Moreover, there are other ways to alleviate the discomfort of PI-IBS such as altering one’s diet and taking supplements and medications.

Altering one’s diet would help alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of PI-IBS, however, it is important to note that the dietary requirements would vary per person. In order to know what diet would be suitable for you, please consult a doctor.

As for medications, doctors would recommend probiotics, antispasmodics, and antidiarrheal medications. All of these medications are readily available in drugstores.

When should you see a doctor?

Usually, PI-IBS symptoms would last three weeks before resolving on their own. However, there are instances wherein the symptoms linger for a lot longer than usual.

If symptoms persist, that is the time when an individual should see a doctor. This is also the time wherein they can ask what medications they can take.

Key Takeaway

Experiencing constipation after diarrhea and vomiting is not a severe condition. Individuals should not be too worried about this since the symptoms they are feeling will go away after some time. Always seek medical aid if symptoms persist.

Learn more about managing constipation here.

 

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Viral gastroenteritis

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/viral-gastroenteritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20378847

Accessed July 21, 2021

PI-IBS

What to Do When a Stomach Bug Won’t Go Away

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-to-do-when-a-stomach-bug-wont-go-away/

Accessed July 21, 2021

Post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2721231/

Accessed July 21, 2021

Therapy of the postinfectious irritable bowel syndrome: an update

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433563/

Accessed July 21, 2021

https://aboutibs.org/what-is-ibs/post-infectious-ibs/

Post-infectious IBS

Accessed July 21, 2021


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Written by Jen Mallari Updated Aug 25, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel