Constipation After Colonoscopy: Causes & Tips to treat

 

Quick insights. 

It is normal to experience some delay in your Bowel movements after colonoscopy. This is because your colon is basically empty (due to colon prep). Constipation or hard stools after Colonoscopy is less common and may be caused by: 

  • Lack of activity.
  • Dehydration due to colon prep and not drinking enough water.
  • Not enough fiber in the diet.
  • Ignoring the urge to poop.
  • Not eating enough.
  • Having IBS.
  • Having anal/rectal Problems or procedures.
  • Risk factors include being female or older in age.

Best treatments for constipation after colonoscopy includes:

  • Move or do light exercise.
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Eat high fiber diets.
  • Try Prunes and prune juice.
  • Try colon massage.
  • Try a fiber laxative as Metamucil.
  • Seek medical help if no improvement.

 

Causes of constipation after colonoscopy. 

During the preparation for your colonoscopy, your colon needs to be emptied. This “emptying” process may cause a 1-2 days delay in your first bowel movement.

But a” delayed bowel movement” is different from constipation. With delayed bowel movement, you can’t poop because of not enough colon contents to poop after colonoscopy.

But with Constipation, you can’t poop after colonoscopy because your stool is hard, or you have a problem 

With your colon motility. 

A delay in your Bowel movement after colonoscopy for one or two days is common and is considered normal. this is because your colon needs to refill itself with fecal material again after colon prep.

But prolonged constipation with hard stool randy occurs, and it affects less than 2% of people undergoing colonoscopy (ref).

constipation after colonoscopy causes

constipation after colonoscopy can be due to:

 

(1) Lack of activity or Exercise.

Staying in bed or not being active during the first day or few days after colonoscopy is a common cause of getting constipation after colonoscopy (ref).

Surgeons usually advise their patients to move after operations especially if the operation is in the abdomen this is because physical activity  emulates the motility of your colon

 

(2) Not drinking enough fluids.

The colon preparation process may be exhausting for you. Many people fail to obtain enough amounts of fluid before and after colonoscopy.

Not drinking enough water leads to the hardening of your stool (constipation) after colonoscopy.

(ref).

You can drink water or any type of fluids including hot beverages, fruit juice, or any other fluids that you can tolerate.

(3) Not enough fiber in the diet.

Faulty diet habits after colonoscopy can also lead to constipation. Eating foods that lack fibers such as high fat, fried, or fast food can negatively affect your Bowel movement after colonoscopy (ref).

Lack of fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain is one of the main reasons why people get constipated.

(4) Ignoring the urge to poop

after colonoscopy.

Sometimes you (subconsciously) ignore the urge to poop because of:

  • Being tired or dizzy after sedation during colonoscopy.
  • Problems in your colon and rectum such as fissures or masses causing painful bowel movements.

Ignoring the urge to poop after colonoscopy will make your colon absorb more water. And as a result, your poop becomes harder to pass and you’ll get constipated after colonoscopy(ref).

(5) Not eating “enough”.

Not only the type of food but also the amount of food you eat can contribute to post co locos copy constipation. Being bloated or having stomach pain after colonoscopy is common. And this may prevent you from eating at all or eating enough amounts after colonoscopy. 

As a result, you won’t be able to “refill “your empty colon after colonoscopy.

So eating the right type and the right amount of food is critical to prevent constipation post colonoscopy.

There is no need for “overeating”, just eat the average amounts you can tolerate.

 

(6) Irritable bowel syndrome.

You can experience constipation after colonoscopy if you’re already an IBS sufferer.

This is more common with the constipation-predominant or the mixed type of IBS. 

Also, taking medications for IBS-diarrhea after colonoscopy (such as Immodium) can cause constipation.

(7) Having anal or rectal problems or procedures.

Anal or rectal pain can lead to constipation (ref). Any pre-existing and or rectal problems such as anal fissure, rectal masses, or inflamed hemorrhoids will contribute to constipation after colonoscopy. Also, the colonoscopy procedure itself can aggravate pain from your existing condition.

Anal or rectal pain can occur due to some procedures done during the colonoscopy such as:

  • Taking a biopsy from the anus or rectum.
  • A hemorrhoid operation by colonoscopy.
  • Removal of a mass or polyp from rectum or and canal.

(8) Being a female or older in age

Even without the presence of all of the above causes, some people may have a higher risk of post-colonoscopy constipation. For example:

  • Being female increases your odds of getting post colonoscopy constipation (ref). 
  • Also, older ages (especially if you’re more than 60) is a risk factor for getting constipation. 
  • Other factors such as
    • Diabetes Mellitus
    • Thyroid gland diseases. 
    • Diverticulosis.

How to treat post colonoscopy constipation

 

(1) Move. 

Lack of activity or sticking to the bed after returning from colonoscopy can cause you constipation. Try to perform light physical activities and never stay in bed for long periods.

Examples of things you can do: –

  • Have a slow walk for 30-45 minutes. (this can help with your bowel movement)
  • Wash dishes
  • Do dusting.
  • Any other light “house working” such as light sweeping, light gardening.
  • Slow bike riding (not in the first 12 hours after colonoscopy because of the sedation medication).

The idea is to move around because this helps your colon to regain its normal motility.

(2) Drink more.

Correcting dehydration that resulted from the colon prep process is a must. Drink extra amounts of water or any other fluid in the first one or two days after the colonoscopy. 

At least 8- 12 ounces of water per day is required to correct dehydration.

(3) Eat more high fiber foods.

Try to eat a serving of a high fiber food as: –

  • Whole-grain cereal or bread.
  • Fibrous fruits or vegetables.
  • Rice and beans
  • Oats.

Research indicates That a daily fiber intake of 20-25 grams is recommended (ref)

(4) Try a colonic massage.

You can try a simple colon massage for 15-30 minutes. Colon massage has many potential benefits for your post. colonoscopy constipation (ref).

  • It can stimulate your bowel movement.
  • It increases the frequency of your poop by decreasing the time it stays inside your colon.
  • It will provide you with a psychological sense of relief.

check This video from listen2yourgaet.com.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBdWbYakqGo

(5) Try prunes or prune juice (very effective)

According to a study in “Critical Reviews in Food and Nutrition”, Prunes & prune juice can alleviate constipation. (ref).

It is considered more effective than many other methods or remedies such as psyllium (Metamucil).

We recommend you to have 3- 4 cups of prune juice to help relieve constipation. 

Explore more ways to benefit from prunes & prune juice here (recipes).

(6) Try a fiber laxative

Fiber laxatives can trap water and form a gel-like bulk of stool. They’re a safe and effective option for post colonoscopy constipation. For Example, psyllium (Metamucil).

see our review of Metamucil HERE.

(7) Seek help.

Sometimes, all the above measures fail or you have a special health condition.

Don’t be late to call your doctor or GP for help, especially if:

  • Constipation lasts for more than five days or a week after colonoscopy.
  • Vomiting or dehydration.
  • Abdominal Tenderness or severe pain.
  • Being older than 65
  • Having any other health conditions such as diverticulosis or previous history of intestinal obstruction.
  • Fever or shortness of breath.