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Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Amritpal Hungin
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© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.BACKGROUND: Primary care is normally the initial point of presentation and management of patients with chronic constipation (CC). CC has a prevalence of 3-27%, predominantly amongst females and in the older population, and is associated with a reduced quality of life. Effective management can be a challenge without a structured approach. SUMMARY: Whilst conventional teaching defines constipation as the number of stools per week, patients complain mainly of other symptoms such as straining and stool consistency rather than frequency. Symptoms need to be correlated with the likely causes, and ruling out secondary causes and treatment should be symptom driven, distinguishing between functional constipation and irritable bowel syndrome with CC. Treatment can be stepwise or involve combinations of therapies. There is a poor evidence base for most common managements, including lifestyle measures, although stimulant laxatives can be effective. Key Messages: Failure of routine treatment and an early consideration of alternative causes should lead to collaboration with a specialist, especially as many problems, such as pelvic floor disorders, gynaecological problems, and dyssynergic defecation, require secondary care investigations and remedies. In light of our ageing population, CC should be considered thoughtfully and the diagnosis and management tailored to the individual, to maintain good quality of life.
Author(s): Hungin AP
Publication type: Review
Publication status: Published
Journal: Digestive diseases
Print publication date: 01/02/2022
Online publication date: 18/04/2021
Acceptance date: 13/04/2021
ISSN (print): 0257-2753
ISSN (electronic): 1421-9875
Publisher: NLM (Medline)
PubMed id: 33866320