Age differences in patients evaluated for constipation: Constipation characteristics, symptoms, and bowel and dietary habits
The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of age on various characteristics of constipation. We also sought to determine if age, comorbid conditions, and specific clinical characteristics such as use of pain medications were associated with an increase in the frequency of constipation-associated symptoms.
The sample comprised 518 patients 18 years or older with a primary diagnosis of constipation. Subjects were drawn from the clinical database of all patients (n = 1228) referred from primary care or gastroenterology practices to the University of California, San Francisco Center for Pelvic Physiology between March 2003 and October 2007.
Patients completed 2 questionnaires. The clinical questionnaire obtained information on demographic characteristics and previous medical history. A second, investigator-developed questionnaire provided data about characteristics of constipation, symptoms of constipation, as well as various bowel and dietary habits.
: Both younger and middle-aged patients were more than twice as likely as older patients to have infrequent bowel movements and abdominal bloating and to use position changes to facilitate bowel evacuations. In addition, younger patients were nearly 3 times as likely to report abdominal pain as older patients. Patients with constipation who present at a younger age report a higher frequency of certain characteristics, symptoms, and bowel habits.
Screening of younger patients for this common problem is warranted.
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