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Can Ulcerative Colitis Cause Constipation

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What Is The Outlook

How to Avoid CONSTIPATION With Ulcerative Colitis

With modern medical and surgical treatment, there is just a slight increase in the risk of death in the first two years after diagnosis, compared with the general population. After this there is little difference in life expectancy from that of the general population. However, a severe flare-up of ulcerative colitis is still a potentially life-threatening illness and needs expert medical attention.

As mentioned, if you do not take medication to prevent flare-ups, about half of people with ulcerative colitis have a relapse on average once a year. This is much reduced by taking regular medication. However, even in those who take regular medication, some people have frequent flare-ups and about a quarter of people with ulcerative colitis eventually have an operation to remove their colon.

A year from diagnosis, about 9 in 10 people with ulcerative colitis are fully capable of work. So, this means that, in the majority of cases, with the help of treatment, the disease is manageable enough to maintain a near-normal life. However, the condition can cause significant employment problems for a minority.

Treatment for ulcerative colitis is an evolving field. Various new medicines are under investigation. These may change the treatment options over the next ten years or so and improve the outlook .

Find Relief From Ulcerative Colitis Constipation

Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that causes the lining of the colon to become inflamed. Ulcers can form in the large intestine and produce pus and mucus.

Symptoms can vary among people but may include bloody stools, abdominal pain, loose or urgent bowel movements, and persistent diarrhea.Constipation may also occur in people living with ulcerative colitis.

Read on to learn about the link between ulcerative colitis and constipation, how to manage it, and when to see a healthcare provider.

What Are The Symptoms Of Ibs

  • Bloating and gas

  • Diarrhea, especially after eating or first thing in the morning

  • Feeling a strong urge to have a bowel movement

  • Feeling like you still need to have a bowel movement after youve already had one

  • Stomach pain and cramping that may go away after having a bowel movement

The symptoms may get worse when youre under stress, such as when you travel, attend social events, or change your daily routine. Your symptoms may also get worse if you dont eat enough healthy foods or after youve eaten a big meal. Some people are bothered by certain foods. Women who have IBS may notice more frequent symptoms during their periods.

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How Is Ibd Diagnosed

Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis cause similar symptoms. No single test can diagnose either condition.

To make a diagnosis, your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms. Your workup may start with a complete blood count and stool test to look for signs of intestinal inflammation.

You may also get one or more of these diagnostic tests:

  • Colonoscopy to examine the large and small intestines.
  • EUS to check the digestive tract for swelling and ulcers.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy to examine the inside of the rectum and anus.
  • Imaging scan, such as a CT scan or MRI, to check for signs of inflammation or an abscess.
  • Upper endoscopy to examine the digestive tract from the mouth to the start of the small intestine.
  • Capsule endoscopy using a small camera device that you swallow. The camera captures images as it travels through the digestive tract.

Tips For Managing Fatigue

Ulcerative colitis constipation: 5 relief options
  • Keep a close eye on those blood testsChecking on iron levels, vitamin B12 and other chemical or nutrient deficiencies can help your treatment team to find the right mix of medication for you. Adding iron supplements or reducing the dosage of a medication can make a world of difference to energy levels for some people.
  • Focus on keeping fitWhile being careful not to overstress yourself, try gradually increasing the amount of physical activity you do. Make use of a gym membership, walk rather than catching the bus for shorter trips, or commit to a team sport. Improving your overall fitness can ensure your energy stores are higher, potentially reducing the impact of those fatigue-ridden days.
  • Assess your dietDo you have any foods that make you feel heavier, or sluggish? Complex carbohydrates such as cereals or porridge can provide you with energy over a longer time frame, while simple carbohydrates will give you a short burst of energy, often followed by a low. Consider if you are getting a good mix of fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates for energy, and rich protein.
  • Manage your workloadWherever possible, ensure your workplace, family or education provider is aware of your condition and see what flexibility is available with responsibilities, work hours and prior planning. For example, taking the afternoon off following a doctors appointment may be a welcome break to rest, recover and prepare for the next week.

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Consequences Of Disturbed Motility And Transit On Drug Distribution

UCAC and altered motility may be part of the underlying mechanism in studies that suggest drug delivery to the diseased segment is impaired during disease activity. A study in active UC measured serum sulfapyridine levels as a proxy for adequate sulfalsalazine dosing. In patients who had satisfactory levels but ongoing endoscopically confirmed disease activity, all achieved clinical remission with the introduction of hydrophilic colloid and bran without a dosage change. The authors described these patients as constipated colitics. The findings suggest that UCAC may impair delivery of the active metabolite to the inflamed distal colon with diminished therapeutic effect.

Regional distribution of orally administered eudragit-coated resin was examined in patients with active left-sided UC and healthy controls. It found higher levels in the right side of the colon in patients with UC with significantly reduced levels in the left side of the colon that suggests impairment in drug delivery in active disease.

What Causes Constipation With Ulcerative Colitis

In ulcerative colitis, constipation can occur in people with early stage disease or in people with left-sided disease. While the speed of transit is increased in the inflamed portion, it slows in the non-affected part of the intestines, which may lead to constipation.3

Strictures and anal fissures can also cause constipation, or constipation can be a side effect of medication or supplements.

A stricture is a section of the digestive tract that has become abnormally narrow. A stricture forms when connective tissue builds up within the digestive tract. When this happens, food and waste cannot pass normally.

An anal fissure is a split or tear at the end of the anal canal. Constipation can cause a fissure. A fissure can also make constipation worse. Some fissures are very painful. Having a bowel movement may feel like you are passing shards of glass.5 Consequently, you may try to delay a bowel movement, leading to constipation.6

You may need opioid pain relievers after surgery or for abdominal pain. You may take an iron supplement to treat anemia. These can cause constipation.

Read Also: How Does An Ulcer Feel In Your Stomach

What Are Other Causes Of Constipation

Constipation can be a condition on its own, called primary constipation. Primary constipation can be caused by:7

  • Uncoordinated pelvic muscles, leading to straining.
  • Slow movement of waste through the digestive tract.
  • Normal movement of waste through the digestive tract, but difficulty passing the waste out of the body.

Constipation also can be a symptom of other medical conditions, including:1

  • Depression
  • Medications and laxatives you are taking
  • Typical diet or recent diet changes

These details can help your provider sort out the cause of constipation.

The physical examination will probably include an abdominal and rectal examination.1 A colonoscopy is not a routine procedure for constipation. However, colonoscopy is useful if there are signs of an obstruction.4

Some Uc Medications Can Cause Weight Gain

When Constipation, IBS, Diarrhea, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and other gut issues run in the Family

Some medications for UC can cause a person to gain weight. These include:


Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, may cause a person to gain weight. The long-term use of these drugs may also lead to a decrease in healthy muscle mass.


Biologics, or anti-tumor necrosis factor agents, are a common treatment for UC and may lead to weight gain.

For instance, some evidence links the common biologic treatment infliximab with weight gain. A

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Does Ulcerative Colitis Shorten Your Life

Most people with this condition can have a full life expectancy. However, complications can increase the risk of an early deathTrusted Source , according to one 2003 Danish study. Very severe ulcerative colitis could impact your life expectancy, especially within the first couple of years after your diagnosis.

Other Reasons For Abdominal Distention

Another possible reason for abdominal distention can be due to having some underlying hypersensitivity caused by chronic inflammation, says Dr. Chang. Plus, those with Crohns disease can develop scar tissue in the intestinal tract, which can lead to narrowing, called strictures, of the GI passage. This prevents food from passing through as easily as it should, and these patients can be predisposed to bloating and fullness.

Adhesions due to intestinal surgery may also lead to difficulty passing gas, says Roshini Rajapaksa, MD , a board-certified gastroenterologist, a clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine, and an attending physician at NYU Langone Medical Center who sometimes goes by the name Dr. Raj. And people with UC and Crohns are more likely to have lactose intolerance, which can cause bloating, she adds.

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Natural Intestinal Healing Remedies

Due to the common complaints associated with medications and surgery, research has uncovered many natural options for healing a damaged digestive system. From lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, and stress reduction techniques, ulcerative colitis can not only be prevented, but it can also be successfully healed.

One additional benefit is that many people, especially the elderly, cannot tolerate many medications. Natural options allow for healing without additional pain. These include:

Regular Exercise: Exercise is beneficial to your overall health, but when it comes to ulcerative colitis, regular activity can help with many of the complications associated with the condition. Studies have shown that individuals with ulcerative colitis also suffer from decreased bone density, emotional health problems, weight gain, and suppressed immune system.

| Related: Why a Workout Plan Improves the Benefits of Probiotics |

Exercise can help boost moods, promote weight loss, boost energy levels, and support bone health. In addition to this moderate exercise triggers the release of specific chemicals called myokines that promote healing from inflammatory-related damage.

Yoga is a specific exercise that takes care of the digestive system and provides relief for many ulcerative colitis symptoms.

Stress Reduction: Stress and anxiety are intricately linked to inflammation. The release of inflammatory chemicals is a direct result of the body experiencing stress.

The Difference Between Ulcerative Colitis And Crohns Disease

Ulcerative colitis constipation: 5 relief options

Crohns disease is also an inflammatory bowel disease . The 2 diseases affect the digestive tract differently:

  • Ulcerative colitis only affects the large bowel , and inflammation is only in the surface layers of the bowel lining. It causes ulcers to form in the lining of the bowel.
  • Crohns disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus , but usually just the last section of the small bowel and/or the colon. Inflammation can extend into the entire thickness of the bowel wall.

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Laxatives Crohn’s Disease And Ulcerative Colitis

Laxatives are a type of medication that cause you to pass stools more often. You may need laxatives if you have constipation, meaning you are passing stools less than three times a week, having to strain to poo or passing hard or small pellet-like poo.

Constipation can happen to anyone. For some people it just happens a few times in their life, for others it can be an on-going chronic condition.

There are a number of things that can cause constipation. One of the most common is not having enough water in your poo, making it become hard and difficult to move through your bowel, which could also cause stomach pain, bloating and excess gas. Not having enough water in your poo could be because you arent drinking enough, or because your large bowel is absorbing more water than it should.

Factors that can contribute to constipation include:

  • Not eating enough, or eating a low fibre diet
  • Not drinking enough fluids

There are a few different types of laxatives and they work in different ways:

Laxatives are often used if lifestyle changes, such as drinking more fluids, increasing the amount of fibre in your diet, and getting more exercise have not helped to relieve constipation.

Some laxatives are available over-the-counter without a prescription, others are prescribed by a doctor.

Should You Stop Taking Your Ibd Medication

First of all, do not make any changes to your medication regimen without first talking to your doctor.

According to the ACG, keeping IBD well-controlled or in remission may help protect you from contracting COVID-19.

Right now the real hotspots for spread of this infection are in health care settings, says Dr. Ungaro. If your condition is well-controlled and you stop taking your usual medications, you risk having a flare. We do not want patients to have a flare in the midst of this pandemic and end up in the ER where they could be exposed .

If youre using steroids: Topical steroids, which are taken via suppositories or enemas, are unlikely to cause problems. Systemic steroids, however, are another story. If youre on oral steroids, now is a good time to start tapering off them if you can, says Dr. Ungaro, but do not stop taking steroids cold turkey. Call your gastroenterologist, discuss whether it is a good idea for you to start decreasing your dose, and find out how to do so slowly and safely.

If youre using aminosalicylates, biologics, or immunomodulators: If youre doing well on a drug in one of these classes, stick with it, says Dr. Morganstern. If you stop, youre at risk of flaring.

One exception, however, may be for patients who are stable and taking both an immunomodulator and a biologic. If someone is in remission on combination therapy, I might try removing the immunomodulator and keeping the biologic, says Dr. Morganstern.

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What Does Constipation In Ulcerative Colitis Feel Like

Constipation, in general, is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week. However, the frequency of bowel movements varies from person to person especially in those with gastrointestinal diseases like UC. Constipation usually causes a person to have dry, hard stools that are difficult to pass.

Of the MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam members with UC who report experiencing constipation, many find that this symptom alternates with diarrhea. I have ulcerative colitis, wrote one member, and Im either constipated or the exact opposite. Another member agreed, noting, Ive had UC for 15 years, and I alternate between diarrhea and constipation.

Modified Rome Iii Criteria For Defining Ulcerative Colitis

How do you feel with Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease: Inflammatory Bowel Disease Symptoms
  • Bloating

  • Reduced frequency of defecation compared with patients own frequency

  • Passage of hard or dry stool

  • Straining at stool

  • Sensation of incomplete defecation

Moreover, Rome IV criteria has superseded the previous version and other more useful tools are available for the assessment of constipation. The patient assessment of constipation symptoms questionnaire is regularly used in research and may provide a better framework for a definition. It has 12 symptom components each having a score weighting from 1 to 4 that a patient has experienced within the last 2 weeks. This allows for a more detailed assessment of symptoms, particularly severity, as well as using patient-reported outcomes. Modification of this questionnaire with thresholds for symptom severity may be a more effective tool in identifying UCAC in clinical practice, research and assessing treatment response.

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Many Of Those Who Suffer From Inflammatory Diseases Such As Crohns Disease And Ulcerative Colitis Also Struggle With Fatigue

True fatigue is something that can be hard for those who dont have it to understand.

Clinically speaking, fatigue is an overwhelming sense of tiredness, exhaustion and lack of energy. Its exhaustion that doesnt disappear after rest or sleep.

Many people describe it as feeling like their battery is completely discharged. They cant manage to do anything at all, says Katrine Brække Norheim at Stavanger University Hospital.

They may also have brain fog, which means they have difficulty concentrating, forget what they are doing and find it difficult to absorb information.

In recent years it has become clear that fatigue is a major aspect of different inflammatory diseases, such as lupus, arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel diseases , including Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis.

Now Norheim and her colleague Tore Grimstad have conducted a review of the research on fatigue in patients with IBD.

Their conclusion is that fatigue is a significant and often underestimated aspect of these illnesses. They also say we need to know more about the mechanisms behind the phenomenon, to find new treatment options.

Underdiagnosed and undertreated

The two researchers looked at 28 different studies of fatigue and IBD, and concluded that people with the diseases experience extreme exhaustion much more frequently than normal.

While 2 to 12 per cent of the general population reports being fatigued, fatigue affected between 22 and 77 per cent of IBD patients.

Sickness Behaviour

Abdominal Pain And Bloating Can Be More Than Just A Stomach Ache

Its not unusual to experience the occasional stomach ache when food disagrees with you, or stress might trigger Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Its when you appear bloated more often than not, and are experiencing persistent abdominal pain and cramps, you need to consider colitis.

This is particularly the case when your pain and bloating coincides with significant weight loss, vomiting, and even painful joints.

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