Constipation cannot cause a fever, but some conditions that can lead to constipation might. For example, some infections might cause fever and digestive symptoms.
It is also possible that constipation and fever could occur at the same time without being related. Alternatively, having a fever could cause behavior changes that lead to constipation, such as eating differently.
In this article, we will explain whether constipation can cause a fever and what conditions could link the two.
Constipation cannot cause a fever directly, but certain health conditions may cause a person to experience both constipation and fever at the same time. These include:
- Infections: An infection of the gastrointestinal tract could cause fever, nausea, vomiting, and changes in bowel movements.
- Appendicitis: The
mainsymptom of appendicitis is abdominal pain that starts near the belly button and moves down and to the right. It can also cause fever, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal swelling, and bowel problems, including constipation.
- Diverticulitis: Diverticulitis can cause both constipation and fever at the
same time. This condition occurs when pouches form in the wall of the colon and become inflamed.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): IBDs, such as Crohn’s disease, are autoimmune disorders in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the digestive system. Fever and constipation are potential symptoms, along with rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
- Medications: Some medications can cause both constipation and a rise in body temperature as side effects.
However, having both constipation and fever at the same time does not necessarily mean they share the same cause. Constipation and fever are common symptoms and may occur simultaneously by coincidence.
Doctors define constipation as having a bowel movement fewer than
- hard, dry, or lumpy stools
- difficulty or pain on passing stools
- a feeling that the bowel has not emptied fully
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person has a fever when their temperature measures
Many conditions that cause an immune system response can cause a fever. It is the body’s way of fighting infections. The increase in body temperature from the fever makes it less likely for disease-causing bacteria and viruses to survive.
There are other conditions that can also cause fever in the absence of an infection, such as certain autoimmune disorders and conditions that affect body temperature regulation.
A person can experience constipation for a range of reasons. Sometimes, there is
- older age
- dietary changes
- lack of fiber in the diet
- lack of exercise
There are also medical conditions that can cause constipation, such as:
- functional gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome
- bowel motility problems, which can cause food to move too slowly through the intestines
- pelvic floor disorders
- celiac disease
- diverticular disease
- proctitis, which is inflammation of the lining of the rectum
- intestinal obstruction
- irregularities of digestive tract anatomy
- neurological conditions
There are many medications and supplements that can cause constipation as a side effect, too.
For example, children can develop a fever when they have an illness such as chickenpox, tonsillitis, or an ear infection. During the illness, they may drink less, their diet might change, and they might be less active. This could potentially contribute to constipation.
Other factors that could contribute to functional constipation in children include:
- changing from breast milk to formula or cow’s milk
- not getting adequate fiber
- experiencing pain when defecating, which may lead to avoidance
- anxiety or fear around using the bathroom
- excessive parental pressure
- difficulty with toilet training
- taking certain medications
Similarly to adults, though, children can experience these two symptoms for different reasons.
Treatment for both constipation and fever depends on the underlying cause. If it is an infection, this may clear up on its own. If it does not, a person may need treatment from a doctor.
As a short-term measure, adults may get relief from constipation and fever by:
- drinking enough water
- eating more fiber-rich foods
- wearing light, comfortable clothing
- taking an over-the-counter (OTC) laxative
- taking OTC medications for fever, such as acetaminophen, to ease symptoms
- resting, if a person has an infection or feels fatigued
To care for children with these symptoms, caregivers can follow similar steps, ensuring they stay hydrated and cool. However, caregivers should not give children OTC laxatives. It is best to consult a doctor or pharmacist on safe constipation remedies for children.
If a child with a fever is younger than 3 months, it is best to speak with a doctor. Do not bathe them in cold water to bring the fever down, as this does not help.
If the symptoms do not pass, get worse, or keep coming back, seek medical attention.
To help prevent fever, people can take steps to prevent the spread of infections by:
- regularly washing the hands with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom
- sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and light switches
- cleaning and disinfecting bathrooms and kitchens
- cooking food thoroughly
- refrigerating leftovers as soon as possible
- avoiding sharing personal items, such as toothbrushes, razors, drinking glasses, and eating utensils
- getting the recommended vaccinations against viral illnesses
Occasional and temporary constipation is not uncommon, but if it persists or is a regular occurrence, a person may need to adopt some changes to help prevent or manage it. This could include:
22–35 gramsof fiber per day, for adults
- drinking plenty of fluids
- getting regular exercise
- trying to have a bowel movement at the same time every day
- discussing medications with a doctor if they could be a cause
In children, caregivers can help with constipation by following similar steps. If they appear hesitant to use the bathroom, ask them what is wrong. This may reveal if they have a fear of using a toilet, if they are in pain, or other problems.
If caregivers are still toilet training the child, take a break until the constipation goes away.
Constipation does not cause fever, but the two symptoms can sometimes share the same root cause. For instance, conditions such as appendicitis and diverticulitis can both present with constipation and fever, among other symptoms.
People may also develop constipation when they are unwell with a fever due to constipation, changes in diet, or other changes in routine. Certain medications can also cause constipation.
Sometimes, though, the constipation and fever develop at the same time by coincidence. If one or both persist, speak with a doctor.