Constipation caused thousands of hospital admissions at the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust last year, figures reveal.
New research has found the public’s idea of how to identify the problem differs significantly from that of doctors, meaning many people are missing out on help they need.
New NHS data shows there were 2,735 hospital admissions for constipation at the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust in 2017-18.
It was the primary reason for admission on 840 occasions, and a secondary diagnosis for 1,895.
In a recent study, researchers at King’s College London found almost a third of patients who were clinically constipated did not recognise it.
It also showed that less than a third of people thought infrequent bowel movements were an important sign of being blocked up, compared to 41% of GPs and around 65% of specialist doctors.
Dr Eirini Dimidi, lead author of the study, said: “Accurately identifying a condition is at the root of good care.
“Currently prescription medication for constipation fails in nearly 60% of patients and almost half report not being satisfied with their treatment.”
She added that the findings showed a need for the way constipation is diagnosed to be refined.
The NHS says constipation has a variety of causes, including diet, not drinking enough fluids, lack of exercise and stress.
It recommends eating more fibre, drinking more but avoiding alcohol, and being more active, as ways of encouraging bowel movement.
An NHS spokesperson said: “Day or night, there are plenty of ways the NHS can help for any illness or problem, and our Long Term Plan will make getting help even more convenient.
“Evening and weekend GP appointments are now available across the country, while pharmacists are trained medical professionals and can advise on a range of minor illnesses out of hours, and if you’re not sure what service you need, NHS 111 is available by phone and online 24 hours a day.”
Article by data reporter Tommy Lumby