Constipation? It could be your thyroid.
Do you suffer from constipation? Do you have stomach pain or bloating? Do you notice that you don’t feel as well as you used to and have many other negative health symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, weight gain and difficulty sleeping? You could have undiagnosed hypothyroidism.
What is constipation?
Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent than normal. It is often defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. It can cause you to feel uncomfortable and can cause pain in your abdomen.
Causes of Constipation
- Poor diet low in fiber
- Prescription medications
- Lack of exercise
- Travel or change in routine
- Eating large amounts of milk or cheese
- Neurologic disorders
- Slow transit of the colon
- Colorectal cancer
Research shows that insufficient dietary fiber intake, inadequate fluid intake, decreased physical activity, side effects of drugs, hypothyroidism, sex hormones and colorectal cancer obstruction may play a role in the development of constipation. (1)
Hypothyroidism Causes Constipation
Hypothyroidism is a common cause of constipation. Low thyroid function slows your metabolism, which affects your digestive tract.
Gastrointestinal motility and serum thyroid hormone levels are closely related. Changes in the motor activity of the digestive system may result in gastric distension (enlargement, dilation or ballooning effect) and constipation in hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism prominently reduces esophageal and gastric motor activity and can cause gastrointestinal dysfunction.
There have been reports of disorders of motility and transport functions in the digestive system resulting from hypothyroidism. A reduction in the motor activity of stomach, small intestine, and colon has been reported in previous studies. Delayed intestinal transit time has been reported for hypothyroid patients. The most probable pathological reason is the intestinal edema (excess of fluid collecting in the tissue or cavity of the body). In the case of hypothyroidism, mucinous material (mucopolysaccharide, hyaluronic acid, etc.) may accumulate in gastrointestinal system mucosa, which may lead to dysmotility, when the muscles of the digestive tract do not work as they should.
Depletion of thyroid hormones inhibits the secretory functions of the digestive tract. This finding has been supported by data showing that gastrointestinal transition time is within normal limits in cases following treatment of hypothyroidism. Symptoms of gastrointestinal system dysmotility, such as indigestion, can occur with mild or severe hypothyroidism. Therefore, symptoms should be assessed in these patients. Thyroid function should be evaluated in patients admitted with complaint of indigestion. (2)
The history of overt hypothyroidism is associated with bacterial overgrowth development. Excess bacteria could influence clinical gastrointestinal manifestations. Bacterial overgrowth decontamination is associated with improved gastrointestinal symptoms. (3)
Research demonstrates that constipation is a recognized symptom in patients with untreated hypothyroidism.(4)
Other Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
So how do you know if your constipation could be caused by hypothyroidism? If you have several other symptoms of low thyroid function, then there is a good chance that you could have low thyroid function. Take a look at some of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Loss of energy
- Difficulty losing weight
- Weight gain
- Fluid retention
- Cold sensitivity
- Difficult concentrating
- Short term memory loss
- Muscle pain and cramps
- Joint pain
- Tired after a full night’s sleep
- Recurrent and chronic infections
- Brain fog
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Low basal body temperature
- Brittle fingernails with ridging
- Elevated cholesterol
- Depressed moods
- Mood swings
- Menstrual irregularities
- Enlarged thyroid gland
Lifestyle Changes to help Prevent and Relieve Constipation
Eat more fiber daily. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber. You can also take a fiber supplement. Be sure to stay active and exercise several times a week, as well. Drink lots of water to keep yourself well hydrated.
Magnesium supports regular bowel movements. If you are suffering from constipation, taking a magnesium supplement can help give you some relief. There are also many other supplements for digestive health that can help promote a healthy GI tract.
Do you have other symptoms of hypothyroidism?
Take our symptom checker to find out. Constipation is only one of many symptoms of hypothyroidism. Getting properly diagnosed and treated for low thyroid function can help improve your overall health. Untreated hypothyroidism can not only lead to gastrointestinal problems, but it can also lead to type 2 diabetes, and even heart disease.
We can help
Take charge of your health today and contact our Wellness Consultants for a complimentary wellness consultation at 281-698-8698. It would be our privilege to serve you!
We now offer Nutritionist Programs to help you achieve a healthy gut and feel your best. Our Gut Repair Program promotes optimal health with the Hotze Optimal Eating Plan and gut-healthy supplements, along with the guidance of our Certified Holistic Nutritionists.Source: Cleveland Clinic
- Etiologic Factors of Chronic Constipation—Review of the Scientific Evidence
- Does Hypothyroidism Affect Gastrointestinal Motility?
- Association between Hypothyroidism and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
- Myths and Misconceptions About Chronic Constipation