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J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2007 May;8(4):209-18.

Constipation in long-term care.

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Division of Geriatric Medicine, Saint Louis University, St Louis, MO 63104, USA.


Constipation is more common in older adults and accounts for increased physician office visits and hospital admissions. There is lack of agreement on the definition of constipation regarding what patients perceive as constipation and what physicians traditionally see as constipation. Constipation is related to multiple factors, and when left untreated or not properly treated, results in complications, such as impaction, even perforation and death. Laxative use increases with age and at times multiple agents are used to relieve symptoms of constipation. Currently the most commonly used laxative is stool softener but it lacks efficacy. From the review of literature, osmotic laxatives are effective in older adults and well tolerated. Psyllium, a bulk laxative, is also effective in the treatment of constipation, while there is limited evidence for stimulants, dioctyl sulfosuccinate, and other bulk laxatives such as calcium polycarbophil and methylcellulose. A new drug, lubiprostone, is a type 2-chloride channel activator and is shown to be effective, safe, and well tolerated in older adults treated for chronic constipation in studies up to a year. It appears to be particularly useful in persons who have recurrent fecal impaction and in those with severe chronic constipation. There is a need for a large-scale trial examining an appropriate cost-effective approach to the management of constipation in the nursing home.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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