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A Surprising Discussion: Can Constipation Cause Chest Pain?

- Written By

Brenda Galloway , ABMS

Updated on

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts. Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument. This article contains scientific references. Read more about our process.

can constipation cause chest pain

Can constipation cause chest pain? Distention of the abdominal organs brought on by constipation may exert strain on the diaphragm. The chest or belly pain can indicate that the diaphragm is under pressure. We might feel discomfort or pain in the chest region at some point. 

While significant medical illnesses like heart difficulties are frequently linked to chest pain, they can also result from less severe causes like constipation. This thorough article explores the link between constipation and chest pain and offers insightful tips and treatments to help with this unsettling condition.

Constipation explanation

Let’s first discuss what constipation is before exploring the possible connection between it with chest pain. The stool becomes stiff and dry and passes slowly through the digestive tract, causing constipation. A lack of fiber in the diet, insufficient hydration intake, a sedentary lifestyle, particular drugs, or underlying medical issues can all contribute to this sluggish movement.

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Can constipation cause chest pain?

Constipation is a widespread intestinal problem that many individuals experience worldwide. Infrequent bowel movements or trouble passing feces are its hallmarks. Some people may question if constipation might induce chest pain in addition to the usual stomach discomfort known to produce. We shall go into this subject and highlight how constipation and chest pain may be related.

A connection between constipation and chest pain

Although chest pain is not a direct sign of constipation, there may be a tangential connection. Due to the complexity of the digestive system, problems like constipation can have an impact on adjacent organs and structures, including the chest region.

1) Higher pressure

Increased pressure in the stomach cavity may cause chest pain associated with constipation. When a person is constipated, stool accumulates in the colon, which expands and puts pressure on nearby organs, including the diaphragm and the chest cavity. The chest area may feel uncomfortable or painful due to the increased pressure.

2) Bloating and gas

Bloating and a buildup of gas in the digestive system frequently coexist with constipation. Excess gas can lead to discomfort and distension, which can spread to the chest area and be felt as chest pain. In addition to pressing on the diaphragm, the trapped gas can cause chest pain.

3) Acid reflux 

Constipation and chest pain are related in another way because of acid reflux. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) may become weaker if the stool stays in the colon for a long time and puts more pressure on it. A weaker LES can cause stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus, which can cause a burning feeling and chest pain.

4) Getting medical help

It’s important to understand that not all chest pain brought on by constipation is a direct result of it. Chest pain can be a sign of a number of illnesses, some of which can be dangerous, such as heart disorders. To accurately identify the underlying reason, it is imperative to seek medical treatment if you feel persistent or severe chest pain.

Let’s watch the video of what Dr. David Coun says about chest pains?

Source / Mount Sinai Health System

Differentiating constipation from chest Pain

It’s important to distinguish between chest discomfort brought on by constipation and pain brought on by more severe diseases, such as cardiac problems. Even though only a doctor can make an exact diagnosis, you can determine whether your chest pain is most likely caused by constipation by looking for key characteristics:

1) Location

Constipation can cause chest pain that often originates in the middle or upper belly and may spread to the chest.

2) Pain’s nature

Instead of being sharp or stabbing, pain is sometimes characterized as a dull, aching sensation or pressure.

3) Bowel movement patterns

Your chest discomfort is more likely caused by constipation if a bowel movement eases or occurs during constipation.

4) Alongside symptoms

Bloating, gas, and an impression of being overly full in the abdomen can all be symptoms of constipation-related chest pain.

5) Aware of the symptoms

It takes a thorough study of symptoms to determine whether chest pain is caused by constipation. To rule out more serious illnesses, chest pain should always be addressed seriously and checked by a healthcare provider. 

6) Bowel habit changes

Any significant changes in usual bowel habits, such as a sudden drop in frequency or consistency, may be an indication of a more severe problem.

Constipation-related chest discomfort is frequently accompanied by a number of symptoms, including:

  • Children experiencing chest pain from constipation may also experience bloating or abdominal discomfort.
  • Constipation is typically characterized by irregular bowel movements and difficulty passing feces.
  • Constipation may be indicated by excessive straining or spending a lot of time in the bathroom while trying to have a bowel movement.
  • The presence of hard, dry, or lumpy feces indicates constipation.
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Managing chest pain caused by Constipation

There are a few things you can take to relieve the discomfort if you are suffering from chest pain from constipation.

1) Increase intake of fibre

Adequate dietary fiber intake can facilitate regular bowel movements by softening the stool. Consume foods high in fiber, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

2) Keep hydrated

Proper water is crucial for maintaining regular, healthy bowel motions. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your stools smooth and avoid constipation.

3) Activate your body through exercise

Exercise regularly can encourage bowel motions and aid with constipation. Activities like walking, jogging, or yoga help promote a healthy digestive system and ease pressure on the abdomen.

4) Utilise over-the-counter medications

Stool softeners and laxatives sold over the counter can ease constipation momentarily. However, it’s crucial to adhere to the directions and seek medical advice if you have any questions or if your symptoms don’t go away.

5) Develop healthful habits

Living a healthy lifestyle helps improve digestion and reduce the chance of constipation. This involves maintaining a healthy weight, controlling stress levels, and limiting intake of processed foods and alcohol.

Children who are constipated experience chest pain

1) Understanding childhood constipation

Constipation is a common digestive problem affecting anyone, even young children. Infrequent bowel movements, discomfort passing stools, and firm or dry stools are its hallmarks. Chronic or severe constipation can result in several issues, including stomach pain, bloating, and even chest pain, while it usually isn’t an extreme health risk.

2) Constipation and chest pain: A connection in children

Constipation can occasionally cause referred pain, in which discomfort from the intestines is felt in other areas of the body, such as the chest. The diaphragm and the stomach may be put under strain if the colon accumulates stools. The chest area may experience pain or discomfort due to this elevated pressure.

3) Symptoms of chest pain caused by constipation in children

It might be challenging to pinpoint chest pain from constipation in kids because symptoms can differ from person to person. However, there are a few common warning signs to be aware of:

  • Children experiencing chest pain from constipation may also experience bloating or abdominal discomfort.
  • Irregular bowel movements, such as infrequent or trouble passing stools, can indicate constipation.

Straining during bowel movements: Constipation may be the caused of children who waste too much during bowel movements.

Passing hard stools: Constipation may be present if your child frequently passes hard or dry stools.

Changes in eating habits: Loss of appetite or an abrupt change in eating habits may be signs of constipation or other digestive problems.

You should take your child to a doctor for a precise diagnosis if they exhibit any combination of these symptoms in addition to chest pain.

Related Article: What Are Bad Chest Genetics & How You Fix Them?

Prevention and treatment

Fortunately, you may take several efficient steps to treat children’s chest pain brought on by constipation. Here are a few suggestions:

1) Diet modifications

Increasing Fibre Consumption Encourage your child to eat various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes high in fiber. Fibre gives the feces bulk, which makes it easier to pass. Ensure your child drinks enough water throughout the day because dehydration can worsen constipation.

2) Lifestyle adjustments

Encourage frequent physical activity and exercise to support bowel movements and digestive health in general. To help your child develop good bowel habits, encourage them to use the restroom frequently, preferably after meals.

Medical procedures

1) Prescription laxatives

Your doctor could advise you to take laxatives occasionally to provide temporary relief from constipation.

2) Prescription drugs

Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help regulate bowel movements if lifestyle changes and over-the-counter remedies are ineffective in relieving your symptoms.

The bottom line

Although constipation may not cause chest pain directly, there may be an indirect connection between the two. Constipation can cause discomfort or chest pain due to the increased pressure, gas, bloating, and acid reflux it causes. To rule out any underlying illnesses, it is essential to seek medical care if you feel persistent or severe chest pain.

By treating constipation through dietary and lifestyle modifications, you can lessen your odds of feeling discomfort in the chest area. Always prioritize your gut health, and seek specialized advice and help from medical professionals.

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