What are the age-related demographics of constipation and which conditions may lead to functional outlet obstruction?

Updated: Mar 30, 2020
  • Author: Marc D Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Constipation can occur in all ages, from newborns to elderly persons. An age-related increase in the incidence of constipation has been observed, with 30%-40% of adults older than 65 years citing constipation as a problem. [14] The increased frequency of constipation in adults older than 65 years may reflect a combination of etiologic factors such as dietary alterations, a decrease in muscle tone and exercise, and the use of medications that may result in relative dehydration or colonic dysmotility. [15] Some researchers suggest that cumulative exposure to environmental neurotoxins may play a role.

In some patients, chronic or repeated pelvic injury (eg, from pregnancies) or the development of anatomic abnormalities (eg, rectal prolapse or rectocele [weakness in the posterior vaginal wall that allows the rectum to prolapse into the vagina upon straining]) may lead to functional outlet obstruction.

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