Have you ever been constipated before? No? Lucky you. For those of us who have, we are all too aware that it is a very unpleasant occurrence.
For the lucky few who are unaware, constipation is a fairly common gastrointestinal problem that affects around 42 million Americans according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. And of those 42 million sufferers, nearly 2.5 million will visit a doctor as a result.
The numbers are a little staggering considering we are talking about not being able to go to the bathroom, but in reality, it can be quite severe. Although complications are rare; chronic, long-lasting constipation can lead to some serious and potentially life-threatening health issues.
In the past, constipation has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, in large part, by the effects of harmful intestinal bacteria. And of a study done of 70,000 women, 23 percent were found at an increased risk.
But what else in the body can constipation effect? Well, the kidney for one.
Dr. Keiichi Sumida and Dr. Csaba Kovesdy, from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center performed a study where they examine 3.5 million American veterans over a nine-year period; first in 2004, again in 2006 and finally in 2013.
At the start of the study, all participants had normal kidney function; however, as time progressed, some of the patients developed constipation and kidney disease. The findings?
Patients with constipation were 13 percent more likely to develop chronic kidney disease and 9 percent more likely to have kidney failure. Increasingly severe constipation was linked to a higher risk of developing kidney disease.
“Our findings highlight the plausible link between the gut and the kidneys and provide additional insights into the pathogenesis of kidney disease progression. Our results suggest the need for careful observation of kidney function trajectory in patients with constipation, particularly among those with more severe constipation.”
Dr. Kovesdy goes on to add that further research is needed to see if constipation indeed plays a causal role in developing kidney disease. If so, and a causality is proven, the same lifestyle changes and dietary interventions that help alleviate constipation might also protect patients’ kidney health.
This connection between kidney health and constipation is just one of many inter-causal relationships being found within our body. And while these connection might come as a shock to many, the fact remains that the deeper of an understanding we get of our bodies, the better equipped we will be cure diseases as they occur.