Chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC)

Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC)

Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC) is a disorder of the digestive system in which an individual has fewer than three bowel movements over a week's time. Symptoms of CIC can range from mild to severe and can be difficult to treat. Common symptoms may include feeling of discomfort, bloating, infrequent or hard stools, constipation, and the need to strain during a bowel movement. Less common symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and abdominal pain.

CIC is classified a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which means that it affects how the gastrointestinal tract operates. Unlike other gastrointestinal disorders, it is not associated with any known structural or functional abnormalities. The cause of CIC is not fully understood, however, some of the potential risk factors include:

  • Older age
  • Female gender
  • A decrease in physical activity
  • Depression
  • Poor diet
  • Drug use
  • Stress

The most important goal in the treatment of CIC is to alleviate the symptoms and improve the quality of life. Treatment of CIC should first focus on lifestyle changes, such as increasing the amount of fiber and fluids in the diet, exercising, and decreasing stress. If lifestyle changes do not provide adequate relief, medications may be used to help control the symptoms. Medications may include laxatives, fiber supplements, stool softeners, and osmotic agents.

In most cases, lifestyle changes combined with medications can significantly reduce symptoms of CIC. However, if CIC does not improve after visiting a doctor, additional tests may be conducted to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms.