Constipation May Lead to Kidney Disease, New Study Shows

By Christie Abagon , Nov 12, 2016 12:11 AM EST

Researchers examined health records of more than 3.5 million U.S. veterans and looked at whether they have reported cases of constipation and used laxatives over a period of about seven years.  They found out that those who experienced constipation had higher risks of developing chronic kidney disease and kidney failure than those who had not.  They also found out that the more severe the constipation is, the higher the risk of developing these kidney conditions.

Csaba Kovesdy, MD, of University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Memphis VA Medical Center, one of the researchers said: "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."

Results Of The Study Did Not Stun Researchers

Authors of this study say they were not surprised with the results.  Kovesdy that their hypothesis "was based on plausible putative mechanisms of action (the effect of the gut microbiome on pathophysiologic processes such as inflammation), and earlier data showing a link between the gut and cardiovascular outcomes."

Researchers say that they are not sure yet as to the exact mechanism that links constipation with kidney disease but they suggested that the changes in gut bacteria that cause constipation could cause food to pass through the digestive system more slowly than normal, which leads to chronic inflammation and in turn may contribute to kidney disease.

Study Results Show That Management Of Constipation Aids In Treatment Of Kidney Disease

Kovesdy said that the diagnosis and management of constipation may be helpful in the prevention or treatment of kidney disease.  "If additional research reveals that constipation plays a causal role in kidney disease, treatment of constipation through lifestyle modifications and/or use of probiotics could potentially protect patients' kidney health," he said.

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