A survey has been published which highlights how severe constipation makes normal life hugely difficult for sufferers.

The research, funded by specialty pharmaeuicals group Norgine and presented at the United European Gastroenterology congress in Berlin, involved 766 patients from nine European countries, Australia and South Africa. All participants were required to have taken either prescribed or over-the-counter laxatives in the previous year and 98% said that living with chronic constipation negatively affected their quality of life.

The report notes that "contrary to popular perceptions, constipation is not a mild or transient illness". Almost one-fifth of sufferers reported that they live with severe constipation (with faecal impaction) and 41% had lived with constipation for over five years.

Almost one-third of sufferers feel their concentration at work and their social lives are affected by their condition. Over one-third experienced disturbed sleep, while over half of those surveyed felt “irritated” by their constipation.

Commenting on the poll, Pauline Jouet of Hopital Louis Mourier in France, said that doctors have an important role in advising sufferers how to manage this condition and laxative choice "as it is clear from these results that there is still a considerable need for proactive medical support for these patients".