Patients with chronic constipation, with or without irritable bowel syndrome, tended to present without pain, but those who experienced pain were generally younger, more constipated, and more symptomatic than those without pain in a recent study.
Researchers in Spain conducted a telephone survey of 1,500 random individuals (51% women; aged 18 years and older) in June 2011. Only one person in each home was interviewed, using the validated Spanish-language version of the Rome III questionnaire. General quality of life data were captured on the short form-12 (SF-12), and participants answered the quality of life in constipation-20 (CVE-20) questionnaire.
Chronic constipation (CC) prevalence was 19.2% (95% CI, 17.2-21.2%), while in subgroup analysis, 209 respondents were classified with nonpainful CC (prevalence, 13.9%; 95% CI, 12.2-15.7%), 30 with painful CC (prevalence, 2%; 95% CI, 1.3-2.7%) and 49 patients with CC with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS; prevalence, 3.3%; 95% CI, 2.4-4.2).
CC was more prevalent in women than men (27.6% vs. 10.6%), and researchers said patients “with painful CC and CC in patients with IBS were younger, reported more constipation, and had more symptoms” than patients with nonpainful CC. In multivariate analysis, physical activity and age were significantly associated with CC.
Those with nonpainful CC reported greater success with laxatives than the other subgroups. Patients with CC were more impaired on the physical (P<.001) and mental (P<.001) scales of the SF-12 questionnaire. There were no significant differences in CVE-20 between groups.
“CC appears to be a spectrum: most patients do not have abdominal pain/discomfort but others (with otherwise quite similar characteristics) are patients with IBS or fall outside any established diagnosis,” the researchers wrote.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.