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Constipation, a heterogeneous disorder common among many people, can range from mild bowel habit disturbances to rare serious symptoms, including bowel obstruction and fecal impaction, according to a report published recently in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. Population-based studies have estimated that 10% to 20% of people report 1 or more symptoms of chronic constipation (ie, infrequent stools, excessive straining, or hard stools). Few people with constipation, however, seek medical attention.
For the study, the researchers identified relevant medication and disease risk factors for chronic constipation by comparing patients diagnosed with chronic constipation (n = 7251), patients with constipation of unspecified chronicity (n = 6441), and control patients (n = 7103) from a general practice research database representing more than 10 years of data collection. The results showed that several clinical and therapeutic factors other than age and sex are independently associated with chronic constipation, including pharmacologic agents such as opioids, antidepressants, and antispasmodics.