In this study, researchers from the United States assessed the prevalence, risk factors, incidence, natural history, and the effect on quality of life of constipation in North America.
The team performed a systematic review of the published literature.
A computer-assisted search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Current Contents databases was performed independently by 2 investigators.
The team's selection criteria included North American population-based sample of adults with constipation, full manuscript in English, report on the prevalence, incidence, and natural history of constipation or impact on quality of life.
The researchers found that estimates of the prevalence of constipation in North America ranged from 2 to 27%, with most estimates from 12% to 19%.
They found a female-to-male ratio of 2.2:1.
In addition, the team determined that constipation increases with increasing age, particularly after age 65.
|Incidence of constipation increases with increasing age.|
|American Journal of Gastroenterology|
From limited data, the team found that quality of life was diminished by constipation, but the clinical significance of this was unclear.
Drs Peter Higgins and John Johanson concluded, "Constipation is very common, as approximately 63 million people in North America meet the Rome II criteria for constipation".
"Minimal data are available regarding incidence, natural history, and quality of life in patients with constipation".
"Effort should be expended toward the study of these topics, particularly in the elderly, who are disproportionately affected by this condition".