Recognizing and Defining Occasional Constipation: Expert Consensus Recommendations

Satish S.C. Rao, Brian E. Lacy, Anton Emmanuel, Stefan Müller-Lissner, Daniel Pohl, Eamonn M.M. Quigley, Peter Whorwell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Constipation is a common problem, affects 15% of the population, and is often self-diagnosed and self-managed. Over the past 3 decades, there have been significant advances in our understanding and management of chronic constipation, with the emerging recognition that occasional constipation (OC) is another subtype that falls outside current classifications. The purpose of this review was to describe the process of developing and proposing a new definition for OC based on expert consensus and taking into consideration the multifactorial nature of the problem such as alterations in bowel habit that include stool frequency and difficulty with stool passage, perception of the sufferer, duration of symptoms, and potential responsiveness to treatment. Leading gastroenterologists from 5 countries met virtually on multiple occasions through an online digital platform to discuss the problem of OC and recommended a practical, user-friendly definition: "OC can be defined as intermittent or occasional symptomatic alteration(s) in bowel habit. This includes a bothersome reduction in the frequency of bowel movements and/or difficulty with passage of stools but without alarming features. Bowel symptoms may last for a few days or a few weeks, and episodes may require modification of lifestyle, dietary habits and/or use of over-the-counter laxatives or bulking agents to restore a satisfactory bowel habit."Prospective studies are required to validate this definition and determine OC prevalence in the community. This review highlights current knowledge gaps and could provide impetus for future research to facilitate an improved understanding of OC and development of evidence-based management guidelines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1753-1758
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022


  • Humans
  • Consensus
  • Constipation/diagnosis
  • Laxatives/therapeutic use
  • Defecation
  • Intestines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Hepatology


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