Treating constipation -- a common condition -- could help prevent kidney damage, experts say
People with constipation are more likely to develop kidney disease, a new study finds.
The discovery suggests kidney problems might be prevented or treated by managing constipation, according to researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Memphis VA Medical Center.
They studied the medical records of 3.5 million U.S. veterans with normal kidney function. They were tracked from 2004 to 2006, and followed through 2013.
Those with constipation were 13 percent more likely than patients without constipation to develop chronic kidney disease and 9 percent more likely to experience kidney failure. The risk was even higher for those whose constipation was more severe.
The study did not prove that constipation causes kidney disease or failure, however.
Instead, "Our findings highlight the plausible link between the gut and the kidneys and provide additional insights" into the possible causes of kidney disease, said study co-author Dr. Csaba Kovesdy, a professor of medicine in nephrology at the university.
"Our results suggest the need for careful observation of kidney function trajectory in patients with constipation, particularly among those with more severe constipation," he added in an American Society of Nephrology news release.
The study was published online Nov. 10 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).
If more research finds constipation causes kidney disease, treating it through lifestyle changes and/or use of probiotics could protect patients' kidney health, Kovesdy said.
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