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Constipation After Surgery

Constipation After Surgery

Medications that are given before and during operation, are considered to be responsible for causing constipation after surgery.
Nicks J
Constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movement. In this condition, the stools formed are extremely hard. As a result, it becomes very difficult for the colon (large intestine) to eliminate them. As the hardened stool is pushed through the colon, it can cause unbearable pain during bowel evacuation.
Causes
People who have recently undergone a major surgery, especially that involves the hernia or the gallbladder, do feel constipated. Following are the reasons:
Painkillers
Post operative pain is one of the most common complaints in patients who have just undergone a surgery. The first 2-3 days after surgery can be quite uncomfortable for the patient due to persistent pain. The operated body part can be a source of great discomfort in the initial days. In order to reduce the patient's discomfort, pain medications are often recommended. Although, prescription painkillers are helpful in this regard, they are found to interfere with bowel function. The intestines become sluggish and faces difficulty in pushing the fecal matter out of the body, which may lead to constipation.
Anesthesia
Any minor or major surgery cannot be performed without using anesthesia. The main purpose of anesthesia is to make the person unconscious. However, the anesthesia also promotes relaxation of muscles. It achieves this by obstructing the nerve signals from reaching the muscles. As a result, the muscles become insensitive to pain, which is necessary during surgery. General anesthesia affects the entire body and so even the intestinal muscles are affected. Although the person may regain consciousness after surgery, the anesthetic effect on the intestinal muscles may not go away immediately. Therefore, the muscles may not be able to contract properly after surgery. Due to poor contraction of muscles, the fecal matter gets accumulated in the intestine, leading to constipation.
Absence of Physical Activity
Many times, the patient is advised bed rest after surgery. Keeping the operated body part immobile is crucial for its recovery. With minimal physical activity post surgery, how can one expect regular bowel movement. Leading an active lifestyle and giving top priority to exercise is very necessary for smooth bowel movement. However as physical activity is put on the back burner due to surgery, proper bowel function is a distant possibility. Thus, a sedentary lifestyle after surgery can also lead to constipation.
Diet Restrictions
Diet restrictions before and after surgery can also be responsible for causing constipation. Pre and post surgery recommendations like reducing fluid intake and minimizing consumption of solid foods can harden the stools and trigger painful bowel movement.
Treatment
Drink Water Adequately
An easy inexpensive way to stimulate bowel movement is to increase water intake. Drinking water in sufficient amounts is crucial, without which one cannot eliminate bowel infrequency. Having 7-8 glasses of water daily, is a natural way to soften the hardened stool. To increase fluid intake and relieve symptoms of constipation, drink 1-2 glasses of fruit juices.
Diet
What one eats after surgery, can influence bowel movement. Eggs, milk and other dairy products such as cheese, are known to aggravate constipation. So ensure these foodstuffs, are not included in the diet. Ask any doctor about diet for constipation and he would suggest a high fiber diet. Intake of fiber rich foods can transform hardened stool into soft bulky fecal matter, thus promoting a painless bowel movement. Diet deficient in fiber foods such as vegetables and fruits, can affect stool formation negatively. Resultant fecal matter, thus formed is hard and dry. A high fiber diet can contribute to proper stool formation, thus helping to improve constipation after surgery. In other words, to encourage normal elimination of stool, without experiencing any pain, having dietary fiber adequately, is a must. Fiber supplements in the form of capsules and powder, can also help to stimulate bowel movement.
Exercise
Rest is very important after any kind of major or minor surgery to shorten the healing time. However, that does not mean lying on the bed all the time. This will only make the person feel constipated. In order to restore regular bowel movement, exercise is very much essential. People are under the wrong impression that to increase bowel movement, performing strenuous exercises everyday, is a must. This is absolutely not true and even a brisk walk for about 20-25 minutes daily can bring a considerable amount of relief from constipation.
Laxative
Laxatives are substances, intake of which helps to resume regular bowel movement. Laxatives are available at various health stores. However, they need to be taken in appropriate amounts, as instructed by the doctor, to avoid over use, which often leads to diarrhea.
On the whole, make sure to have a healthy balanced diet and stay away from alcoholic beverages, as these 'drinks' worsen constipation.