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Constipation After Surgery

Many people suffer from a bout of constipation after surgery. Why does this occur after surgery? Here are a few causes:

Pain Medication and Anesthesia: Prescription meds for pain are a primary source of constipation. If you are taking larger or multiple doses after surgery or you've been taking them for a long time you'll be more likely to become constipated. Anesthesia puts your muscles to sleep for surgery, but it also does this for your bowels, meaning that whatever was in there will stay immobile until after the intestine wakes up.

Pre-surgery Restrictions: Your doctor likely asked you to avoid eating and drinking for an extended period before surgery and may have advised drinking minimally and not eating at all or only a liquid diet for a few days. This helps with surgery and recovery but unfortunately it does play havoc with your elimination by fluctuating the levels of fluid in body (these are necessary to soften and help excrete stools) and providing waste to pass through the system.

Inactivity: Having a surgery you've found yourself with less ability to be mobile. This can lead to constipation as motion helps waste pass through the system.

Things You Can Do to Prevent Constipation After Surgery

Now that you know why it's happened what can you do to help relieve it and get back to normal? Here are a few simple changes that can help a great deal:

Drink More Fluids: Drink plenty of non-caffeinated beverages, this will help your body to pass the wastes smoothly and reduce your risk of dehydration which would make the problem worse (caffeinated beverages can be dehydrating) by hardening your stool.

More Fiber: Eat foods that have a high fiber content like fruits, veggies, and whole grain cereals. This will help everything pas much more smoothly.

Medication: Your doctor might prescribe or suggest an over-the-counter stool softener to help prevent your pain medications from causing constipation. Don't take any of these drugs without talking to your doctor first (if they don't prescribe them) to be sure he'd advise their use.

Risks of Post-Operative Constipation

If you are constipated for an extended period of time after surgery or the rate of dehydration is very high. you could be at risk for impaction. Impaction is when the stool or too dry and hard to be passed through the bowels and gets lodged there requiring medical interventions such as enemas, digital disimpaction (the doctor helps it to pass by using his/her fingers) or when it is very severe surgery. When it reaches this level of severity you'll be at risk of losing sections of the intestine and needing a colostomy, unusual heart rhythms, hemorrhoids, shortness of breath and prolapse of the rectum. You might also put your surgical wounds at risk, as they can become strained or even open due to the effort you might put into trying to pass hardened stool. Always listen to the advice of a physician when dealing with post-op care and health to prevent this level of severity.


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