Medical News Today: Constipation and headaches at the same time

Dehydration, which occurs when someone loses more fluid than they take in, can result in both constipation and headaches.

Constipation can also occur due to eating foods that contain little or no fiber. Many of these foods, such as fast foods and processed foods, are high in sugar. This may cause headaches.

In these instances, taking in more fluid and eating more nutritious high fiber foods could help resolve both symptoms.

There are also several underlying conditions that may cause both constipation and headaches. A person with one of these conditions may experience the two symptoms at the same time. These conditions include:

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is a type of autoimmune condition. People who have celiac disease experience intestinal inflammation and damage as a result of eating gluten. Gluten is a protein present in wheat and wheat products.

There are three types of celiac disease: classical, nonclassical, and silent.

Classical celiac disease is characterized by intestinal malabsorption. This refers to when the intestines become so damaged that they are unable to absorb enough nutrients from the diet. Some signs of intestinal malabsorption include:

  • diarrhea
  • pale, foul-smelling, fatty stools
  • unexpected weight loss
  • stunted growth (in children)

A person with nonclassical celiac disease may experience mild gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating. They may also experience:

Silent celiac disease is so-called because those who have it are unlikely to experience any symptoms. They may, however, experience improved health after adopting a gluten-free diet.


The only treatment for celiac disease is to follow a strict gluten-free diet. This will allow the small intestine to heal, which should lead to a reduction in GI symptoms.

Mood disorders

Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety can trigger tension headaches and GI issues.

Some additional symptoms of depression include:

  • low mood
  • feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or guilt
  • loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • fatigue
  • difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • slowed movements and speech
  • changes in appetite
  • suicidal thoughts

There are also several types of anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the most common. People with GAD experience persistent and excessive worry that interferes with their daily life.

They may also experience symptoms such as:

  • increased heart rate
  • rapid breathing
  • restlessness
  • nervousness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • muscle tension
  • difficulty sleeping
  • weakness or fatigue
  • GI issues


A doctor may prescribe medications for people with depression or anxiety. However, these medications can take some time to work. People may also need to try several medications before finding a drug that works well for them.

People with either mood disorder may also benefit from talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).


Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain. Common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • tenderness to touch or pressure
  • severe fatigue
  • sleep problems
  • memory problems

Some people with fibromyalgia may experience migraine or tension headaches. They may also experience digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome or gastroesophageal reflux disease.


The most effective treatment for fibromyalgia is physical exercise. Aerobic exercise may be particularly effective.

People with fibromyalgia may also benefit from taking certain medications. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the following three drugs for the treatment of fibromyalgia:

  • duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • milnacipran (Savella)
  • pregabalin (Lyrica)

People with fibromyalgia may also benefit from the following treatments:

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition that causes a person to feel overwhelmingly tired or fatigued. As a result, a person may have great difficulty carrying out normal daily activities.

CFS can cause headaches and, in some instances, constipation. Other symptoms may include:

  • weakness
  • feeling tired even after sleep
  • problems with memory or concentration
  • muscle and joint pain


There is currently no cure for CFS. However, there are things a person can do to alleviate their symptoms. This may include spreading out activities that they know will drain them of energy. Certain supplements and relaxation therapies may also help.

The symptoms of CFS differ from one person to another. For this reason, a person should talk to their doctor about their specific symptoms and the possible treatment options.


Headaches and constipation can both be side effects of certain medications. Two medications that may cause these symptoms are opioids and statins.

A person should talk to their doctor if they develop constipation or headaches after starting a new medication.


If medication is the cause of both constipation and headaches, a doctor may lower the dosage. When possible, they may even prescribe an alternative medication.

If these options are not feasible, a doctor may prescribe medications to help alleviate the side effects.

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