Gastroenteritis is the medical name for the diarrhea and vomiting usually titled “stomach flu”. This condition can make you feel terrible, but it has nothing to do with the flu. Gastroenteritis is commonly caused by a bacterial or viral infection, and results in inflammation and irritation within the stomach and intestines. After a bout of stomach flu, bloated feelingsmay occur and you may develop constipation. Here, we describe the causes of this constipation and what you can do about it.
Why Do You Have Constipation After Stomach Flu?
Gastroenteritis is typically characterized by loose, watery stools and vomiting, although patients may also suffer from headaches, cramps, stomach pain, nausea, and fever. Vomiting and diarrhea dehydrate you and remove nutrients from your body, and you may not feel like eating much either. After the infection has cleared, your body will take time to return to normal. The dehydration, disturbances in gut bacteria, poor nutrition, stress, and certain anti-diarrheal medications and painkillers after the diarrhea experienced during stomach flu can all contribute to the development of constipation. You may also feel gassy after stomach flu. Drinking lots of water and pulpy orange juice, and eating plenty of fruit and flaxseed, may help you to recover.
How to Deal with Constipation After Stomach Flu
1. Eat Yogurts or Other Probiotics
Various different types of bacteria reside in the bowel and are essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. However, a bout of diarrhea can disturb these bacteria, and it may take a while for things to get back to normal. To help restore the bacterial balance after diarrhea, try probiotic supplements or live-culture yoghurt containing Saccharomyces boulardii or one of the Lactobacilli species. Re-establishing the normal bacterial flora can also help to relieve any constipation that occurs after the diarrhea.
2. Walk Around After Eating
Increasing the amount of exercise you take can help to stimulate bowel movement; patients with a sedentary lifestyle often suffer from constipation. Therefore, although you may be feeling weak after your stomach flu, it is important to get moving, taking short walks or even standing up for a while, especially after meals. However, remember that your body is still recovering from the diarrhea, so take it easy to start with, building up the amount of exercise with time.
3. Drink Lots of Water
After stomach flu, you will likely be dehydrated from diarrhea and vomiting. You will need to drink plenty of water to rehydrate yourself, but did you know that this can also help ease any subsequent constipation? Water softens and adds weight to the stools, so that they’re passed through the colon more easily, and it stimulates bowel movement. Try drinking six to eight glasses of warm water first thing in the morning to get your bowel going. However, make sure you stick to water, and avoid carbonated, caffeinated, and sugary drinks.
4. Take Olive Oil
Olive oil stimulates bowel activity and softens the stools, making it a great remedy and preventative measure for constipation. Try taking a tablespoon of olive oil when you get out of bed, or any other time you haven’t eaten for a while. This is because you’ll see the best effects when you take olive oil on an empty stomach. If you like, you can mix the olive oil with a tablespoon of lemon juice to lighten the flavor.
5. Drink Lemon Juice
This lemon juice can also act on its own as a treatment for constipation after stomach flu. The citric acid in the lemons not only acts as a bowel stimulant, it can also flush out any toxins or undigested food that may have accumulated inside the colon. Lemon juice tastes quite strong, so try mixing the juice of one lemon in a cup of warm water for extra fluid, and drinking this mixture once a day.
6. Eat Plenty of Fiber
Fiber is the most important nutrient in the diet for preventing constipation. It cannot be digested, so acts as a sponge in the colon, and absorbs water, which softens and adds bulk to the stool, helping promote bowel movements. Foods full of fiber include fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses, whole-grain cereals, and nuts. Try to avoid refined sugars and heavily processed foods. You’ll need to combine a fiber-rich diet with plenty of water for the best results.
For more information on remedies for constipation after diarrhea, please click here.
What About Bloating, Cramping and Gas After Stomach Flu?
The insufficient bowel movement and the accumulation of undigested food in the intestine during constipation after stomach flu can cause excess gas, due to the build-up of harmful gas-producing bacteria. This may result in bloating and cramps.
If you feel gassy after stomach flu, go for bland foods. Avoid any food that may irritate your digestive system or is tricky to digest. Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, dairy products, and fried, fatty, spicy or highly seasoned food can all make your diarrhea worse, and cause mild nausea. You should also cut down your consumption of high-fiber and gas-forming foods, such as broccoli and onion. Remember that even after the infection has been cleared from your system, your digestive tract still requires time to heal from stomach flu. Bloated sensations may take a while to disappear.