Constipation and Diarhea

By Dr. Shrey Lakhotia, BDS

Constipation and Diarrhea

Some people experience constipation and diarhea.

It is more serious than plain constipation or plain diarhea. Although it’s not all that common of a condition, there are numerous medical conditions and problems which may cause it.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

This is one of the most common causes for alternating episodes of diarhea and constipation.

The exact cause of IBS is still unknown, but it is believed that there are many “triggers” which precipitate it. Common triggers are stress, certain foods, and mental anxiety.

There is no definite cure for IBS, but it can be managed so that one can live a productive life. Managing IBS may include avoiding the trigger factors, managing stress, and doing relaxation exercises.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer refers to the cancer of the large intestine, also known as the colon. It is one of the most common cancers among Caucasians.

In colorectal cancer, constipation is caused by the partially obstructed bowel which causes feces to move more slowly through the colon. But with this blockage, liquid stool may leak around it, resulting in diarhea.

Colon cancer treatment is dependent on the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed. The 3 treatment options are:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation


This refers to the inflammation of the diverticula, the small, bulging pouches found in the digestive tract, especially in the large intestine.

Diverticula can cause a partial obstruction of the colon. Stool backs up behind the obstruction, causing constipation. As noted above, liquid stool may then leak around the obstruction, resulting in diarhea.

Treatment of diverticulitis depends on the symptoms.

  • If the symptoms are mild, a liquid or low-fiber diet & antibiotics will be sufficient for its treatment.

  • A magnesium supplement is another option, as it can help to keep stool soft, making it easier for it to navigate around diverticula.

  • Serious cases involve hospitalization and surgery.

Other Intestinal Obstructions

An intestinal obstruction is a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small or large intestine.

It can be caused by: 

  • Adhesion's - these are fibrous bands of tissue in the abdomen which may form after surgery
  • Hernias

An Intestinal Blockage

The blockage of the small intestine is much more common than that of the large intestine. 

Because of the size of the colon, the symptoms of constipation and pain develop more slowly from a blockage in the colon.

Since a blockage is a medical emergency, the treatment requires hospitalization. After stabilizing the condition of the patient, a high fiber diet will be advised when there is only a partial obstruction.

However, with a complete obstruction no food is able to pass, and surgery must be performed.

leaf picture constipation and diarhea

Constipation and Diarhea Conclusion

There are numerous conditions and diseases which cause the symptom of alternating between constipation with diarhea.

In this article we have discussed the common ones.

(Return from Constipation and Diarhea to Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

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