When you're constipated, you might pass hard, dry and lumpy stools, have trouble pooping in the first place, or get that feeling that not everything came out that needed to, per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
But what you might not expect is dizziness, too.
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Why You Might Get Dizzy When You're Constipated
First, know that constipation isn't a common cause of dizziness, says Michael D. Brown, MD, gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. However, in certain circumstances, it might contribute to it. Here's what might be going on.
Straining or having a rather large or voluminous bowel movement (usually in the context of explosive diarrhea) or a GI bleed, can cause, as Dr. Brown explains, a vagal event. What's that, exactly?
The overstimulation of your vagus nerve (aka vasovagal syncope) can lead to a drop in your pulse rate, and without enough blood going to your brain, you can get dizzy and faint — yep, on the toilet.
Fainting is pretty extreme, but pooping can be a trigger. If this happens to you, it might also be the result of a condition called orthostatic hypotension, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
(If you are indeed having a GI bleed, call your doctor immediately.)
If you are constipated, you might be spending a little too much time on the toilet trying to make the magic happen, right? And so, if you spend an hour sitting down, only to get up, then you could experience orthostatic hypotension, which is when your blood pressure drops when you stand up.
Blood pools in your legs as you sit, less blood flows to the brain and as a result, you may feel dizzy, have blurred vision or confusion, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Sitting down for long periods of time can also make your legs go numb, Dr. Brown says.
How to Combat Dizziness in the Bathroom
Standing up and getting dizzy isn't an uncommon consequence of sitting too long, and so there are a few things you can do:
1. Take It Slow
If you're dizzy upon standing, hang on to something in the bathroom and wait a few seconds to see if you equilibrate and feel better.
If you're still dizzy, sit back down. Wait, and then slowly stand up again, Dr. Brown advises.
If this happens every time you go to the bathroom, then you'll have to really take a look at what might be causing you constipation and what you can do about it so you don't have to sit on the toilet for a long time, Dr. Brown says.
2. Seek Out a Solution to Your Constipation
Constipation remedies include packing your diet with fiber-rich foods or taking a fiber supplement, or trying to get your body on a regular BM schedule so your gut knows it's go-time.
The good old Squatty Potty, which really does come in some attractive and modern options these days, is also helpful for constipation.
"These stools bring the legs up, reducing straining time on the toilet, as well as the likelihood that blood will pool in extremities," Dr. Brown says. Using one can help prevent that "head rush" feeling.
3. Consider Your Meds
Talk to your doctor about medications you might be taking that affect how you feel when you move from a sit-to-stand position, Dr. Brown says. Often, these might be medications that treat hypertension (high blood pressure).
Keep in mind that you can be both constipated and dizzy, even if your constipation isn't directly causing your dizziness. Certain lifestyle habits may be contributing to both, and that includes not drinking enough fluids (read: dehydration), taking certain medications and stress or anxiety.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.