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Indigestion Due to Constipation: What's the Connection?

Indigestion Due to Constipation: What's the Connection?

It’s not uncommon for people to experience both indigestion and constipation at the same time since they are both common problems of the digestive tract. However, recent studies have found that a person could potentially experience indigestion due to constipation and vice versa.

What exactly is the link between these two conditions? And what does this mean for our digestive health?

Constipation with Painful Gas: Is it a Cause for Concern?

What is Indigestion?

Indigestion is also known as having an upset stomach. It’s not a disease per se, but rather a term used to refer to symptoms that cause general discomfort in the upper abdomen.

While indigestion can be a symptom of an underlying digestive problem, it also happens fairly regularly even in healthy people. Minor things such as eating too fast, drinking carbonated beverages, eating spicy food, and even anxiety can trigger indigestion. It’s usually not a cause for concern.

The most common symptoms associated with indigestion are the following:

  • Feeling full or bloated even if you haven’t finished your meal
  • A burning sensation in the chest behind the breastbone may radiate upwards or may feel like hot/warm sensation going up to the throat. (Commonly known as hyperacidity, but some people interchange this or believe this to be indigestion also)
  • Pain in the upper abdomen or epigastric area
  • Nausea or feeling queasy

Another symptom associated with indigestion is heartburn, or a burning sensation caused by acid reflux. While the two conditions are related and can happen at the same time, heartburn is not indigestion.

What is Constipation?

Constipation, while also a digestive problem like indigestion, is very different. When a person suffers from constipation, it means that they are having a hard time passing stool.

This is because their stools tend to be very hard, so it does not pass as easily compared to softer stools. For people who have chronic constipation, passing stool might even be very painful or lead to problems such as hemorrhoids.

People with constipation also pass stool less frequently, so they sometimes have a feeling that their bowels are not yet empty. This can be a problem, especially if the stool has been “stuck” for a long time, as this can lead to fecal impaction.

When this happens, the colon or rectum is essentially “blocked” and waste can’t get out. This can lead to more serious problems such as an infection or even death.

It is important for people to take constipation seriously, and don’t hesitate to see a doctor if you’ve been constipated for three weeks or longer.

Link Between Constipation and Indigestion

Constipation and indigestion might seem like two very different things, but there are a number of connections between the two.

First, people who suffer from indigestion can sometimes have an increased risk of constipation. This happens because the medication that people with indigestion us, can sometimes cause constipation, especially if they take it frequently.

In particular, medication that helps treat indigestion and heartburn have been associated with constipation. In these cases, stopping the medication or changing the medication they use can deal with constipation. It also helps to eat more fiber and drink more water to help soften stool.

On the other hand, constipation can also sometimes trigger indigestion. This happens if a person has been constipated for a while, and their stool starts to “ferment” and produce gas in the rectum.

This gas can then cause a person to experience indigestion due to constipation. It’s not uncommon for persons with constipation to feel gassy or bloated.

To prevent this from happening, improve your diet. Try to eat more foods that are rich in fiber such as leafy vegetables and oats, and avoid eating too much meat or fatty foods.

In some cases, fiber supplements can also help, as these can provide extra fiber that can help with your digestion. It’s also a good idea to stay hydrated as this helps keep your stool soft.

If you’re still experiencing digestive problems after making dietary changes, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.

Learn more about Constipation here.

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

Sources

Overlap of functional heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease with irritable bowel syndrome, https://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/full/v19/i35/5787.htm, Accessed January 5, 2021

Overlapping abdominal symptoms: why do GERD and IBS often coexist? – PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16986065/, Accessed January 5, 2021

Relationship between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and constipation: laxative use is common in GERD patients | SpringerLink, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10388-020-00770-5, Accessed January 5, 2021

The overlap of gastroesophageal reflux disease and functional constipation in children: the efficacy of constipation treatment – PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28914696/, Accessed January 5, 2021

Heartburn and Chronic Constipation: The Asian Perspective | World Gastroenterology Organisation, https://www.worldgastroenterology.org/publications/e-wgn/e-wgn-expert-point-of-view-articles-collection/heartburn-and-chronic-constipation-the-asian-perspective, Accessed January 5, 2021

Indigestion – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/indigestion/symptoms-causes/syc-20352211, Accessed January 5, 2021

Bloating: Causes and Prevention Tips | Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/bloating-causes-and-prevention-tips, Accessed January 5, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Feb 28
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.
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