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Constipation May Lead to Other Problems
Date:6/28/2009

Hemorrhoids, incontinence and more can result, research shows

SUNDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- A very private health problem, it turns out, is associated with potentially significant and costly complications.

In a review of the scientific evidence, researchers found that constipation might lead to or boost the risk for more serious complications such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, fecal incontinence, colonic conditions and urologic disorders.

Dr. Nicholas J. Talley, chairman of internal medicine at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, said that few people appreciate the seriousness of constipation because symptoms can vary greatly, from mild to severe.

"Most people have mild intermittent symptoms, and they should not worry, although some do become excessively concerned," said Talley, who is also a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Mayo's College of Medicine. "Others suffer in silence, because it's embarrassing to talk about your bowels."

Roughly 12 to 19 percent of the population in North America -- as many as 63 million people -- suffer from constipation, according to the review.

In the United States, the direct cost of treating constipation is about $235 million a year, another study has found. Inpatient care was responsible for 55 percent of the cost, even though constipation is treated mainly in outpatient settings.

People who experience two or more symptoms for at least three months for six months or longer are considered to have "functional constipation." Symptoms include straining, lumpy or hard stools, sensation of incomplete evacuation, sensation of anorectal obstruction, manual maneuvers to help with defecation and less than three unassisted defecations a week.

For some people, being constipated is just the prelude to other problems affecting their anus, colon or urinary tract. Could there be a link?

To help demystify the matter, Talley and
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