Constipation is common and can have a significant impact on quality of life. Constipation is characterized by dysfunction of colonic motility and the defecation process. Three components of the defecation process give rise to three subtypes of constipation: colonic inertia or slow transit constipation, normal transit constipation, and pelvic floor or defecation dysfunction. However, many patients demonstrate symptoms attributable to more than 1 constipation subtype. The etiology of constipation is multifactorial and can also include factors such as diet, medications, metabolic or neurologic disorders, and psychosocial issues. The variable nature and severity of constipation symptoms require an individualized approach to evaluation and treatment. 

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