Diagnostic approach to chronic constipation in adults

Namirah Jamshed, Zone En Lee, Kevin W. Olden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Constipation is traditionally defined as three or fewer bowel movements per week. Risk factors for constipation include female sex, older age, inactivity, low caloric intake, low-fiber diet, low income, low educational level, and taking a large number of medications. Chronic constipation is classified as functional (primary) or secondary. Functional constipation can be divided into normal transit, slow transit, or outlet constipation. Possible causes of secondary chronic constipation include medication use, as well as medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism or irritable bowel syndrome. Frail older patients may present with nonspecific symptoms of constipation, such as delirium, anorexia, and functional decline. The evaluation of constipation includes a history and physical examination to rule out alarm signs and symptoms. These include evidence of bleeding, unintended weight loss, iron deficiency anemia, acute onset constipation in older patients, and rectal prolapse. Patients with one or more alarm signs or symptoms require prompt evaluation. Referral to a subspecialist for additional evaluation and diagnostic testing may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Family Physician
Volume84
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

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Constipation
Signs and Symptoms
Rectal Prolapse
Iron-Deficiency Anemias
Delirium
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Anorexia
Hypothyroidism
Energy Intake
Physical Examination
Weight Loss
Referral and Consultation
History
Hemorrhage
Diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice

Cite this

Diagnostic approach to chronic constipation in adults. / Jamshed, Namirah; Lee, Zone En; Olden, Kevin W.

In: American Family Physician, Vol. 84, No. 3, 01.01.2011, p. 299-306.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Jamshed, N, Lee, ZE & Olden, KW 2011, 'Diagnostic approach to chronic constipation in adults', American Family Physician, vol. 84, no. 3, pp. 299-306.
Jamshed, Namirah ; Lee, Zone En ; Olden, Kevin W. / Diagnostic approach to chronic constipation in adults. In: American Family Physician. 2011 ; Vol. 84, No. 3. pp. 299-306.
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