Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC) describes constipation not caused by the taking of medications or by an illness.
Idiopathic means it arises spontaneously and the cause has not been directly identified.
See below for a discussion on various causes. CIC is:
There are three categories under which Primary (idiopathic) constipation is usually classified:
There are various tests for chronic idiopathic constipation. However, these are not usually done until dietary and lifestyle changes have been put in place.
If increasing fiber in the diet and the use of laxatives have produced no improvement, then physiologic studies (defecography, balloon expulsion tests, anorectal manometry and colonic-transit tests) can be used to further evaluate the constipation.
However, when Chronic Idiopathic Constipation develops it may be the result of a number of things.
Dietary Changes: Consuming more fiber may result in stools that are softer and more easily passed. Whole grain products and bran cereals, vegetables, fruits and many beans are all great sources of fiber.
Eating less at each meal and eating more often can help to keep the digestive system from being overloaded.
Stay hydrated. Drinking a lot of water, at least 6 to 8 glasses a day, is helpful.
It has been demonstrated that exercising more and reducing the amount of stress in one's life are effective ways of relieving symptoms. Just taking a walk from time to time may prove helpful.
If you are looking for a prescription to help with CIC, there are a handful that have been approved by the FDA. Lubiprostone is the newest drug to receive FDA approval for the treatment of adult patients with chronic idiopathic constipation. However most patients can solve CIC without the use of drugs.
Osmotic agents such as Milk of Magnesia or Epson Salt are an approved medical treatment option for CIC.
However, because of high doses of magnesium, these should only be used occasionally.
Another option is to take a daily magnesium supplement that simply meets the daily need for magnesium.
Although Chronic Idiopathic Constipation doesn’t have a definite cure, it can be managed by altering one’s lifestyle, diet and by introducing various other agents, including magnesium.
Note: As with any over-the-counter remedy, talk with your doctor before starting on a magnesium supplement. Supplemental magnesium may interfere with certain prescription medications.
Those with kidney disease should not take a magnesium supplement unless instructed to do so by their doctor.