Constipation and fatigue are symptoms of underlying health conditions that often appear at the same time.

Constipation is a symptom, not a disease or medical condition itself. A person with constipation may:

  • have trouble passing stool
  • feel as though they do not pass all stool in the rectum
  • have 3 or fewer stools per week
  • pass hard, lumpy, or dry stool

Not everyone has the same type or schedule for bowel movements. A person may be constipated if they notice changes to their bowel movement pattern.

Fatigue, like constipation, is a symptom of an underlying condition or disease. Fatigue is a lack of energy, tiredness, or weariness caused by stress, underlying conditions, or even everyday activities.

In some cases, a person may feel both fatigued and constipated. This article reviews the link between the two symptoms, the causes of the two symptoms, risk factors, and more.

Female lying on a couch under an orange and white blanketShare on Pinterest
Maite Pons/Stocksy United

Constipation and fatigue are symptoms of underlying issues. Limited evidence directly connects the two symptoms.

A 2022 study looked at the relationship between fatigue and self-reported constipation in a group of older adults living in an assisted living facility. The researchers found that the adults who self-reported constipation had higher levels of fatigue than those who did not report constipation.

However, the researchers noted several limitations associated with the study. These included small sample size, not reviewing medications, and unknown status of constipation or underlying causes of the constipation.

As a result, they could not generalize the results of the study.

Other studies pertaining to fatigue and constipation targeted specific conditions or issues. For example, a 2016 study examined the prevalence of fatigue in people living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In other words, it is likely that people who experience both fatigue and constipation experience them together due to the same underlying condition or comorbid conditions.

Several conditions and issues can cause constipation and fatigue. The following are some common examples.


Medications to treat other medical conditions can lead to constipation and fatigue.

Several cancer treatments, including medications for chemotherapy, can cause constipation and fatigue.

Other medications for treating pain, such as opioids, can also lead to constipation and fatigue.

Older adults may want to avoid using muscle relaxants due to the risk of constipation, fatigue, and other effects.

Dehydration and malnutrition

Dehydration and malnutrition can both cause constipation and fatigue.

A person may develop malnutrition through poor diet or due to an underlying health condition, such as Celiac disease.

Dehydration can occur when a person does not drink enough fluid to replenish what they used during the day. It can also occur due to health conditions or illnesses, such as diarrhea or vomiting.

Autoimmune conditions

Autoimmune diseases are conditions where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, tissues, and organs in the body. They are often associated with systemic inflammation. Inflammation can cause fatigue.

Autoimmune conditions, such as Celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can also cause constipation.

Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome

Fibromyalgia causes pain and tenderness throughout the body. It can also cause extreme fatigue and digestive issues, including constipation, among other symptoms.

Similarly, chronic fatigue syndrome can cause both fatigue and digestive issues, such as constipation.

Risk factors for constipation and fatigue vary.

People should consider discussing their risk of developing certain autoimmune conditions, fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue syndrome.

For example, fibromyalgia tends to run in families. It is also more common in females than males and in people living with certain other medical conditions, such as IBS.

People taking certain medications, such as opioids, or undergoing cancer treatments also have a higher risk of developing fatigue and constipation.

A person should consider contacting a healthcare professional if they notice severe, prolonged changes in their energy levels and bowel movements.

A doctor can help determine what underlying condition or issue may be causing constipation and fatigue. They may be able to make medication changes, offer tips for helping prevent constipation or fatigue, or provide new treatments that may help reduce the symptoms of the underlying condition causing the symptoms to occur.

A person should also let a doctor know immediately if they have additional symptoms, such as blood in their stool, fever, or vomiting. These could be signs of more serious conditions causing the issue.

A person can make changes to their diet to help prevent constipation.

Some steps a person can take include:

  • drinking more water
  • eating foods high in fiber
  • avoiding foods such as processed foods, meats, fast food, and other forms of prepared food

Exercising regularly may also help.

A person should discuss any major changes to their diet or exercise routine with a doctor before making adjustments.

The following sections provide answers to frequently asked questions about constipation and fatigue.

What are alarming symptoms of constipation?

A person should contact a doctor immediately if they have constipation combined with:

  • fever
  • blood in stool
  • bleeding from the rectum
  • vomiting
  • inability to pass gas
  • losing weight without meaning to
  • constant pain in the abdomen
  • lower back pain
  • severe abdominal pain

Can constipation cause general malaise?

Constipation is a symptom of another condition or issue, such as dehydration, malnutrition, medication, or an underlying health condition. A person might have additional symptoms related to the underlying condition, which may cause a general feeling of being unwell.

Constipation and fatigue can occur at the same time. Several medications, underlying conditions, and diseases can cause the symptoms to occur.

A person may not be able to prevent constipation and fatigue, but they can take steps to help prevent dehydration, constipation, and certain medical conditions.

A person should see a doctor if they develop fatigue and constipation that do not go away. A doctor can help them figure out what caused the symptoms and provide treatment.