Chronic Constipation Finds New Treatment
Two studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have ushered in good news to those suffering from chronic constipation!
The placebo-controlled study analyzes a new experimental medication, that is believed to relieve the pain and bloating associated with persistent constipation.
The new drug, linoclotide relieved chronic constipation in up to 21%, compared to the 6% who gained relief from a placebo.
Chronic constipation is common among women, the elderly and in those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. According to statistics, one in five Americans suffer from this condition and had fewer than three bowel movements a week for long periods, the least being three months.
Researcher Anthony J. Lembo, MD, a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, remarks that linoclotide works in an unique fashion in that it stimulates cells in the bowel lining to produce secretions that help to draw more fluid into the gut where the fluid helps to soften stool and hastens its passage.
However Lembo cautions that "It won't help everybody, of course. Not all patients have their symptoms relieved.There are a lot of different causes for constipation"
In USA and Canada, researchers recruited more than 1,200 adults (approximately 600 in each study) with histories of chronic constipation. These patients experienced symptoms such as straining, lumpy stools, and a feeling of incomplete stool passage.
In both trials, people were randomly assigned to any one of three groups:
• those on a lower daily dose of linoclotide,
• those on a higher daily dose of linoclotide,
• those who were unknowingly consuming a placebo.
The subjects were asked to take their capsules 30 minutes prior to breakfast each day for a period of 12 weeks.The treatment was considered a success if the subject had at least one bowel movement more than what he had earlier !
Results & Conclusion- In the first trial, 21% of the patients on the low drug dose and 19% of patients on the high dose were successfully treated, in comparison to the 3% who were taking the placebo.
In the second trial, 16% on the low dose and 21% on the higher dose were considered successfully treated in comparison to the 6% who were taking the placebo.
"I think this is great, and the safety profile is terrific from everything that they're showing," says Anthony Starpoli, a gastroenterologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. who was not involved in the research. "Of course, once this is implemented in clinical practice, sometimes the picture changes."
The drug is not yet available to the needy as it is waiting for FDA approval.
Tips to avoid constipation
Experts believe that lifestyle changes are required until better treatments are available.
"While this is a very promising agent, we have to remember that we should be drinking 6-8 glasses of free fluid a day," Starpoli says, meaning non-dehydrating beverages.
Coffee, tea, and alcohol, which can cause the body to lose fluid, don't count.
Starpoli also encourages those suffering from constipation to get more soluble fiber such as those in oatmeal, okra, and beans.