Anthony F.T. Brown, Victoria Brazil

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterEducationpeer-review


Scope of the problem Expert consensus defines constipation as at least two of the following in any 12-week period in the previous 12 months (Rome Criteria): fewer than three bowel movements (BMs) per week; hard stool, a sense of incomplete evacuation, or excessive straining in more than 25% of BMs; a need for digital manipulation to facilitate evacuation. Patients perceive being constipated somewhat differently. They use the term to mean straining (81%), hard, pellet-like stools (72%), an inability to defecate when desired (34%), or infrequent defecation (33%). Whatever patients mean by constipation, it should be recognized as a symptom, not a diagnosis. The prevalence of constipation in the young adult population of industrialized nations is as high as 20%, rising to 30-40% in those over 65 years of age. Women are twice as likely to report constipation than men (18.3% vs. 9.2%), and much more likely to seek care for it (35.6% vs. 19.5%). At least 20% of the population habitually uses over-the-counter laxative preparations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAn Introduction to Clinical Emergency Medicine
EditorsS. V. Mahadevan, Gus M. Garmel
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780511852091
ISBN (Print)9780521747769
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2012
Externally publishedYes


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