Unfortunately, constipation is a common side effect of surgery. It can happen for a few reasons: pain medications, the anesthesia used, dehydration, food intake and lack of mobility. Symptoms of post-surgical constipation include:
• A decrease in bowel movements.
• Straining to pass stool.
• Hard stools.
• Bloating or gas.
• Pain in the stomach or rectum.
• Feeling of incomplete evacuation.
Fortunately, there are steps to take before and after surgery that may help prevent post surgical constipation. Steps to take before surgery:
• If you suffer from chronic constipation, tell both your doctor and anesthesiologist.
• Drink plenty of water days leading up to the surgery. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and sodas as they make dehydration worse.
• Eat fiber rich foods days leading up to your surgery. High fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains, and beans/lentils. Avoid dairy, processed foods, and refined grains such
as white bread, white rice, and white pasta.
• Purchase a stool softener before surgery so you have it available when you return home.
Steps to take after surgery:
• Keep the body moving. Short walks will help move food through the intestines and stimulate a bowel movement.
• Drink plenty of water. Diluted fruit juices especially prune juice can help.
• Eat fiber rich foods.
• Eat regular meals and snacks.
• Alternate pain relief.
• Stool softeners.
Constipation should never be ignored. If you develop constipation, don’t worry. With your medical professional’s help you can get your bowels back in order.