Tenesmus: Common Causes and Home Remedies to Treat It

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TenesmusWe don’t want to get too personal, but we know you’ve had the urge to poop. It happens, often at the most inopportune moments or places.

You are on the road, headed to the cottage, 45 minutes away from a bathroom and then suddenly, you get hit by it—the urge to poop. Now imagine that feeling, but there’s nothing left to poop. That’s tenesmus in a nutshell.

In this article, we’re going to explore what tenesmus is and what it could mean for you. From tenesmus causes and tenesmus symptoms to home remedies for tenesmus, we’ll give you a beginner’s guide to tenesmus and what it could mean for your health.

What Is Tenesmus?

Simply put, tenesmus is the urge to defecate even if your bowels are empty. You could have had a poop 20 minutes ago, but the urge to poop has returned. You will go to the washroom, and there will be no stool, or you will produce a small of it.

There are several reasons why this could be occurring (which we will get into in a little bit), but regardless of the reason, the end result is the same. You’ll want to defecate even though you have nothing to defecate. With that in mind, it’s time to move on to the things that cause tenesmus.

What Causes Tenesmus?

In short, a lot of things cause tenesmus. There are numerous causes, and unfortunately, most of these causes are not incredibly good for your health. And, tenesmus might even be a good warning sign that there is something going horribly wrong within your body, and more specifically, within your digestive system.

The causes of tenesmus can include:

  • Anorectal abscess
  • Colorectal cancer, tumors, and polyps
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Infection of the colon (infectious colitis)
  • Inflammation caused by radiation of the colon or rectum
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Movement (motility) disorder of the intestines
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that has diarrhea as a prominent aspect
  • Various causes of fecal incontinence
  • Infectious gastroenteritis
  • Infectious colitis (infection of the colon with inflammation of the colonic wall)
  • Radiation proctitis or colitis (inflammation of the colon or rectum due to therapeutic radiation exposure to target neighboring tumors)
  • Female reproductive system issues including urethral syndrome, endometriosis, infection of the paraurethral glands, and pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Male reproductive system problems
  • Large or thrombosed hemorrhoids (swollen, distended veins)

Uncommon causes can include the overuse of laxatives and suppositories. Constipation can also cause a feeling like you need to relieve your bowels, but this isn’t true tenesmus as there is stool in the bowels, it’s just not able to move through your system.

Speaking of which, what are the true symptoms of tenesmus? What are the warning signs that it’s an issue for you and that you should start looking into treatment? Let’s take a look.

Symptoms of Tenesmus

As you may have seen in the previous sections, the main symptom of tenesmus is that you feel like you need to have a bowel movement, but there is nothing in them to move. While this is the biggest and most prominent symptom, there are a few others you should be aware of.

The following are the other common symptoms of tenesmus:

  • The urgency to empty your bowels
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever or chills
  • Blood in your stool when it finally occurs
  • Cramps

These symptoms can just add to the discomfort you are already suffering from, but don’t give up just yet. There are a few treatments available that can help settle your tenesmus and get you and your bowel movements back on track.

Treatments for Tenesmus

The good news about tenesmus is that while it can create a large amount of discomfort, awkwardness, and pain, it is treatable. In fact, there are even a few home remedies that may be able to help you out as well. But before any treatment begins, you do want to see a doctor about your issues for two major reasons.

First, you want to make sure that it’s tenesmus that you are suffering from. And secondly, you also want to discover what is causing it. As you could see in our section on the causes, a lot of them are pretty serious health concerns, and you want to treat those causes as soon as possible.

Regarding treatment for your tenesmus, the doctor may prescribe medications. In incredibly severe cases, he or she may recommend surgery, like a proctocolectomy.

There are, however, some home remedies for tenesmus along with some tricks that you can try as well.

1. Avoid Fatty Foods

While normally fatty foods like fast food and fried foods may seem like a good idea, it’s a good idea to hold off on them until the tenesmus is under control.

2. Eat More Fiber

Constipation can aggravate tenesmus due to the build up of stool, but there is no way to get rid of it, making the pain and discomfort worse. Fiber-rich foods like cereals and whole grains can help eliminate constipation as an issue.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drinking liquids can help clean out the colon and get the digestive system flowing. Try water, coconut water, and fruit juices.

4. Exercise Regularly 

Working out, even mildly, on a regular basis is good for tenesmus and your overall health. It can help to rejuvenate the body, boost the immune system, and stimulate digestive processes.

Tenesmus Should Be Checked Out!

Yes, tenesmus is uncomfortable and can cause pain and make life frustrating, but that’s not the only reason why you should get it checked out. Tenesmus is often a sign that something is going wrong in your digestive system and your body overall, and that you should seek treatment as soon as possible.

The good news is, with the main cause treated, tenesmus will more than likely begin to clear out of your body as well. Once that happens, your bowel movement worries will revert to worrying about if you have enough time to make it to the washroom.

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“TENESMUS (PERSISTENT URGE TO PASS STOOL) CAUSES AND TREATMENT,” Phaa; http://www.phaa.com/tenesmus-persistent-urge-to-pass-stool-causes-and-treatment.htm, last accessed June 16, 2017.
“Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Remedies for Tenesmus,” Home Remedies For You, April 23, 2010; http://www.home-remedies-for-you.com/blog/tenesmus-symptoms-treatment.html, last accessed June 16, 2017.