Constipation may be associated with an increased risk of developing kidney conditions such as kidney failure or chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a new study. The findings suggests that diagnosing and treating constipation may help prevent and treat kidney complications.
The study, “Constipation And Incident CKD,” was published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN) and conducted by an international team of researchers.
Constipation is a common condition that may affect people’s health by increasing the likelihood of developing other medical conditions. For example, it is known that constipation increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly due to certain effects mediated by altered gut bacteria. However, whether there was a link between constipation and CKD remained to be investigated.
Researchers examined data on more than 3.5 million U.S. veterans (mean age of 60) with constipation and normal kidney function who were examined in 2004 and 2006. They were followed through 2013.
The study investigated the relationship between constipation status and severity (absent, mild, or moderate/severe) of CKD or end-stage kidney disease in the veterans. Status and severity were determined according to diagnostic codes and by an analysis of laxative use.
Results indicated that patients with constipation were 13 percent more likely to develop CKD and 9 percent more likely to have kidney failure compared to patients without constipation. The team also observed that the more severe the constipation, the higher the risk for both CKD and kidney failure.
“Our findings highlight the plausible link between the gut and the kidneys and provide additional insights into the pathogenesis of kidney disease progression,” Csaba Kovesdy, MD, senior author of the study, said in a news release.
“Our results suggest the need for careful observation of kidney function trajectory in patients with constipation, particularly among those with more severe constipation,” said Kovesdy, of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and the Memphis VA Medical Center.
Additional studies are necessary to confirm the association between constipation and kidney complications, as well as to help understand the underlying mechanisms of such an association.
According to Kovesdy, if constipation is found to be a triggering factor for kidney disease, treatment of that condition with changes in patients’ lifestyle or consumption of probiotics could potentially prevent kidney complications in the future.