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Can Sneezing Cause Constipation?

Can Sneezing Cause Constipation?


Can Sneezing Cause Constipation?

Researchers have found a surprising correlation between allergic rhinitis (hayfever) and constipation. In a study of over 100,000 patients, scientists found that people with constipation are more than twice as likely to suffer from allergic rhinitis. 

There’s a well-established physiologic link between the GI tract and respiratory system, known as the gut-airway axis. The researchers speculate that disruption of the delicate balance of microorganisms in the gut (the intestinal microbiome) may cause constipation, which may then lead to allergic rhinitis via the gut-airway axis.

This certainly seems plausible. However, it’s equally possible that the effect goes in the other direction - from the respiratory system to the gut. 

The link between respiration and the gut has long been known in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). According to TCM theory, the two organs form a Yin/Yang pair with lungs being Yin and the large intestine being Yang. 

If you have poor breathing caused by airway congestion, such as from allergies or an infection in the respiratory system, then your bowel function will suffer due to inadequate blood oxygenation and lack of lung expansion. In our experience, deep breathing can help your bowels move while shallow breathing can weaken your digestive system.

Western medical professionals also know that proper, deep breathing can help with constipation. For example, University of Michigan Health recommends diaphragmatic breathing to “calm and massage” the digestive system to ease constipation. They give step by step instructions as follows:

1.    Sit or lie in a comfortable place. Close your eyes.
2.    Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. The bottom hand should do the moving. The top hand should remain still or only move as the bottom hand moves.
3.    Inhale through your nose for about 4 seconds, feeling your abdomen expand. (You may feel slight tension the first few times you inhale.)
4.    Hold your breath for 2 seconds.
5.    Exhale very slowly and steadily through your mouth for about 6 seconds. The mouth should be relaxed.
6.    Repeat for 5-15 minutes.
Most importantly, you should never strain to evacuate your bowels, as this can cause damage to your colon and can even cause a heart attack!

If you have constipation or other gut issues, or hayfever or other respiratory issues, we encourage you to find solutions to address them. The digestive and respiratory systems are the power plants of your body, so the better they function the more you’ll be able to enjoy life!

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