Most people are uncomfortable talking openly about living with chronic constipation, and many try to hide the condition from friends and coworkers. Those who do reveal the condition sometimes face questions from people who don’t understand the difference between an occasional bout of constipation, which we all experience at some point, and chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) or constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C), both of which are serious conditions that impede sufferers’ daily lives.

It’s part of the GI Society’s mission to support these individuals by spreading awareness of their experiences. Many Canadians have contacted us with stories about how chronic constipation affects their daily lives. One of them might be you, or the person sharing your cubicle at the office who sometimes has to leave early without a clear explanation, or the friend who keeps backing out of social plans because they are ‘not feeling well’.

To clear some common misconceptions about the burden of living with CIC or IBS-C, here we provide frank, verbatim answers to the types of questions chronic constipation sufferers tell us they often face.


Is Constipation Really That Big of a Deal?

“It is difficult to articulate just how disruptive, draining, and painful chronic constipation is and the truly negative impact it has on my life. Most everyone has had a bout of constipation, a day or two of discomfort, inconvenience and then back to normal – that is no comparison to the hell of daily chronic constipation. It is truly draining – physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.”

“It’s pretty much ruined my life every day since 2008.”

“The irritation of feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and sick is tiresome and never ending.”

“I can’t move and

[I’m in] constant pain.”


Why Not Just Try to Ignore it and Get On With Your Life?

“Basic activities such as grocery shopping or sitting at a desk are painful and challenging.”

“In the morning I can’t do anything and have to wait until the pain subsides.”

“I hate going to dinner because I fear when I eat I will be stuck in the bathroom.”

“I cannot do cardio exercise because it immediately causes severe and dramatic bloating and distention that literally take days to resolve.”

“It’s caused severe pelvic floor dysfunction and I cannot have sex without pain.”

“The more severe the constipation, the more fatigued I become, barely able to get through the work day and often spending the weekend resting.”

“I lost my job because I was missing too much time. I would be in such pain and worry of needing the bathroom that I could not leave my house.”


When I’m Backed Up, I Just Take a Laxative or Some Prune Juice. Why Don’t You Try That?

“One by one they become ineffective over time. I have to constantly track bowel movements and escalate treatment.”

“[I] was using OTC laxatives on a daily basis, which made the situation worse. The side effects of those completely destroyed any chance of a normal life.”

“The challenges were the treatments either didn’t work or they left me housebound because the results were so severe that I couldn’t chance leaving the house.”

“I spent far more than I could afford on products.”

“They did not work.”

“Some actually worsened the constipation.”



Many might misunderstand chronic constipation but, thankfully, researchers continue to study this condition and develop innovative treatment solutions. Some newer treatments available in Canada include prucalopride (Resotran®), for chronic idiopathic constipation in women, and linaclotide (Constella®), which has indications for CIC and IBS-C in all adults.

First published in the Inside Tract® newsletter issue 191 – 2014