In 2019, you’d think humankind would have a pretty good idea of what constitutes a good and not-so-great pooping schedule. But you would be wrong. Lead researchers of a new study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology recently told reporters that previous studies trying to estimate how many people are straight-up constipated suggest the number could be anywhere between 3 and 35 percent of the population, which basically means: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Now that new study out last week suggests that 29 percent of people who said their BMs were on sched actually met the criteria for being backed up. Hmm…
To find out how everyday peeps as well as general practitioners and gastroenterologists identify constipation in themselves or in patients, researchers surveyed 2,557 civilian bathroom goers, 411 GPs, and 365 gastro specialists for their POVs. Then they asked the same folks to read 10 stories about randos’ bathroom situation and decide whether or not that person was constipated (aka a case study).
Besides discovering that nearly 1 in 3 people are unknowingly clogged, researchers found that the criteria to diagnose a slow pooper might not factor in all the telltale signs of constipation, Kevin Whelan, PhD, head of the department of nutritional sciences at King’s College in London, told reporters.
Right now, official symptoms for diagnosing constipation include things like having to push really hard to go, hard stools, feeling like you didn’t get it all out, and less than three poops per week. But survey takers also identified symptoms that weren’t on the list, like abdominal discomfort, pain and bloating, and flatulence, researchers told King’s College of London’s News Center.
Shockingly, 26 percent of those who weren’t going No. 2 enough didn’t know that infrequent pooping could mean constipation, while 41 percent of GPs and 65 percent of gastro docs said it was an important indicator.
So, yes, we’re all around confused. “The general population’s perceptions of constipation differ strikingly from those of GPs and specialist doctors,” the study authors write. They conclude that the MD-approved criteria for identifying the issue need to be updated to include what people are actually feeling when they can’t let it all go.
Wanna decode your own poop status? Below is the medical diagnostic tool for poo problems as well as the symptoms identified by the study participants. Enjoy.
Rome IV Diagnostic Criteria for Functional Constipation
Must include two or more of the following:
Symptoms Identified in the Study
If this sounds familiar, down more water, go for a walk (or work out, if that’s your thing), load up on fiber-packed foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and talk to your doctor about whether any medications you’re taking could impact your BM M.O., per the Mayo Clinic.
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