COVID-19 may cause constipation in some people. Additionally, lockdown measures may have led to changes in behavior that increases constipation risk. However, research in this area is limited.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness resulting from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. There have been over 102 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States since January 2020. The disease causes a range of symptoms that primarily affect the lungs. However, some individuals may also experience symptoms that affect the digestive system.

Constipation is a digestive problem where people have uncomfortable bowel movements that occur infrequently. A person with constipation may pass stool that is unusually lumpy, dry, and hard. Someone with constipation typically has bowel movements fewer than three times per week.

Possible causes of constipation include certain medications, not eating enough fiber, and celiac disease. However, many other underlying conditions may also cause the condition.

This article discusses whether there is a link between COVID-19 and constipation, COVID-19 symptoms, and when to speak with a doctor.

Coronavirus data

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on COVID-19.

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Some studies indicate that there may be a link between COVID-19 and constipation, but there is limited research in this area.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, which means that the virus primarily attacks the lungs and throat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list common symptoms of COVID-19, including a cough, sore throat, and other respiratory symptoms.

The CDC also states that COVID-19 can cause digestive symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Constipation is a digestive problem that the agency does not list as a common symptom of the disease. However, some researchers have reported people in Iran who experienced COVID-19 and constipation early in the pandemic.

Due to a lack of research, it is unclear whether COVID-19 causes constipation as a symptom. However, the measures that public health organizations recommended to prevent the spread of the virus may have increased the risk of constipation through changes to people’s typical routines.

For example, not drinking enough water, getting enough exercise, or eating enough fiber can all increase the risk of constipation.

A 2021 study of 678 people in Mexico with COVID-19 found that 25% of the individuals in the study also developed constipation. The study authors suggested that these cases may be due to lifestyle changes in those with the condition, such as lower physical activity levels and water consumption.

Another 2021 study that researchers conducted in Turkey found an association between isolation due to COVID-19 and increased rates of constipation. The researchers found that many people drank less water and exercised less while isolating, which may have contributed to constipation.

COVID-19 may cause constipation in some people, but the CDC does not list it as a common symptom of the disease. However, the research discussed above suggests that some public health measures to decrease the spread of the disease may increase risk factors for constipation, such as lower levels of physical activity and water intake.

COVID-19 causes a range of mild to severe symptoms that typically appear 2–14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms may include:

However, COVID-19 could cause other symptoms, depending on the person, the virus variant, and other health factors.

People who experience constipation with COVID-19 may have fewer than three bowel movements a week, which may involve dry, hard stools that may be painful to pass.

Constipation is a common digestive problem that may go away without medical treatment. Some cases may occur due to temporary changes in eating habits or medications and may resolve after a person returns to their usual routines.

However, anyone with constipation that persists despite self-care and people with a family history of colorectal cancer should speak with a doctor. Similarly, a person should consult a doctor if they notice constipation after taking medications. People should not stop taking any medications without a healthcare professional’s guidance.

People who have constipation with COVID-19 symptoms should follow the CDC’s precautions to prevent the virus from spreading.

Additionally, those who experience the following symptoms along with constipation should seek medical attention as soon as possible:

Constipation is a common digestive problem that has a range of causes. COVID-19 is a respiratory condition that causes some digestive issues, which may include constipation in some individuals.

Some evidence suggests that lifestyle changes from isolation due to COVID-19 could cause constipation, such as lower physical activity and water intake.

COVID-19 can cause a range of other symptoms, including fever, cough, and sore throat. A person should follow CDC guidelines if they have COVID-19 to prevent the SARS-CoV-2 virus from spreading.

People who experience constipation do not always require medical attention. The condition may pass on its own with some self-care.

However, anyone who has persistent constipation should speak with a doctor. People should also consult a doctor if they experience constipation with complications, such as blood in the stool.