Are we more constipated than we think?

6th June 2019

Credit @BBC – to read the full article, click here

Doctors and the public are at odds over the symptoms of constipation, leaving some people without the advice or treatment they need, researchers say.

Researchers at King’s College London say a new definition for constipation is needed, based on patient experiences.

Constipation is a common symptom, affecting around one in seven people. It refers to a difficulty opening the bowels – but the way it is diagnosed varies widely.

The researchers say this list of six groups of symptoms could help form a new definition of constipation:

  • abdominal discomfort, pain and bloating – clothes not fitting as well as usual
  • rectal discomfort – bleeding from pushing too hard, pain or burning sensation in the anal area
  • infrequent bowel movements and hard stools – normal can range from three times a day to three times a week
  • sensory dysfunction – not having the urge to go or a sense of incomplete evacuation
  • flatulence and bloating – noisy or smelly wind
  • faecal incontinence – uncontrolled leakage or rectal bleeding

Our CEO Julie Harrington said:

“Listening to what patients say is important.┬áPatients are the experts, by experience, and when they come together with specialists, that’s the sweet spot.

Not all constipation is the same, and different people have different symptoms, she added.

Bowel problems are less likely to be picked up than other problems because people wait 6-12 months out of fear and embarrassment.

You have to tune into your body.

We’re taking one more step towards abolishing the taboo surrounding poo.”

 

Read our patient information on constipation

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