Constipation after surgery is as a result of surgical procedures being stressful on the body. Surgery can cause unexpected side effects, including constipation.
Though, not everyone who has surgery is affected by constipation. But it is a relatively common side effect of pain medications and lack of mobility.
As it depends on which body part or parts of the surgery involved. Straining to have a bowel movement could compromise stitches or affect the body’s healing processes.
This is because our body might be more sensitive or prone to damage than usual after surgery. It is best to use gentle and natural relief for constipation after surgery.
What is Constipation?
Constipation occurs when a person faces some type of difficulty emptying the bowel. This is sometimes due to the slow passage of stool through the colon.
The slower the food moves through the digestive tract, the more water the colon will absorb.
Hence, the harder the feces will become. At other times, it could be due to the lack of fiber and water in the body. This is sometimes the case of constipation after surgery.
A person who poops fewer than 3 times per week may have constipation.
Natural home remedies and lifestyle changes can often help resolve it. But just before we dive into the natural tips to getting to dealing with constipation after surgeries. Here are a few common factors that result this constipation.
Common factors that cause constipation after surgery include the following:
The anesthesia you get before surgery and the prescriptions you fill afterward (including pain medications, diuretics, and muscle relaxants) could be the problem. Opioids, in particular, can reduce bowel movements.
Your doctor might have told you not to eat or drink in the hours leading up to the surgery, or restrict your diet after the operation.
The combination of too little fluid and food can affect your bowel movements. Making it more possible for you to experience constipation after surgery.
Lack of physical activity.
If you need to stay in a hospital bed or can’t work out for a while as you recover. That particular lack of movement can slow down your digestion and make it harder to pass stool.
Inactivity is a common cause of constipation after surgery.
Narcotic pain medication.
This is constipation usually caused by the opioid prescription medication given before, during or after some surgeries.
Underlying conditions like Parkinson’s disease, thyroid disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, and others are prone to cause constipation after surgery.
When constipation after surgery is untreated, it can lead to discomfort and complications which are potentially severe, which includes:
A surgical incision reopening.
This complication can occur if people have to strain to pass stool.
Being swollen veins in and around the anus, they are the result of straining to have a bowel movement.
This occurs when a large or hard stool causes the skin in the anus to tear.
When constipation becomes chronic, it can cause hard stool to become stuck in the intestines.
Straining to pass stool may cause part of the intestines to protrude from the anus.
How do I know I’m experiencing constipation after surgery
Constipation after surgery comes with lots of signs or what we call symptoms.
I’ll be listing the symptoms of post-surgical constipation. If you are experiencing any of these, then you’ll need to hang on to this article.
Giving you the remedy to this uncomfortable state is my aim.
So, hang in there, I know the pain could be excruciating especially if it has grown worse.
Main symptoms of constipation after surgery include:
- Pain in the stomach or rectum.
- Having fewer than three bowel movements a week.
- Experiencing a sudden decrease in bowel movements.
- Bloating or increased gas.
- Straining to pass stool.
- Lumpy or hard stools.
- The sensation that the rectum is not empty, even after having a bowel movement.
- Feeling as though there is a blockage in the rectum.
- Needing help to empty the rectum, such as pressing on the stomach during a bowel movement.
Hmm, if you are experiencing all or any of those then, you are battling with constipation after surgery.
Without further ado, let me tell you the natural steps to take in dealing with Constipation after surgery.
Natural Tips On How To Deal With Constipation After Surgery
Having constipation after surgery causes a whole lot of discomfort. You know, having that feeling of poop right there in your anus.
But can’t seem to get it out.
And if you force yourself to stool, you may end up rupturing the stitches.
Especially surgeries that are done within the abdomen area.
Dealing with it naturally is always the way to go.
I’m not a fan of over the counter prescriptions. Some of these prescriptions that were given to you before the surgery sometimes cause constipation after surgery.
They come with a lot of baggage. So to say.
So, make sure you read through the tips word for word, as I’ll point out the safe and easy natural tips that will help you in particular.
Eat lots of foods rich in fiber
Fiber helps stool pass through the digestive tract.
Before surgery, you may have made some dietary adjustments in order to hasten healing.
So, you had to consume foods that are rich in protein, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin D. They are great ways to help the body to restore tissue, bone, muscle, etc.
However, your pre-operation and post-operation diet always look a little different.
After surgery, you’re going to need to introduce extra fiber into your diet.
Fiber adds “substance” to your stool, pulling water and making your stool easier to pass. Fiber is like your digestive track’s “cleanser”.
It helps in cleaning you out thereby dealing with constipation after surgery.
Women should consume at least 25 mg of fiber a day and men should have at least 38 mg.
I’ll be listing some foods that are high in fiber.
Foods High in Fiber:
- Pears (5.5 grams per pear)
- Raspberries (6.5 grams/100 grams)
- Avocado (6.7 grams/100 grams)
- Artichokes (10.3 grams/100 grams)
- Dark chocolate (10.9 grams/100 grams)
- Kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils (11-15 grams/ 1 cooked cup)
- Popcorn (14.5 grams/100 grams of dry kernels)
- Lentils (15.6 grams/ 1 cooked cup)
- Oats/ oatmeal (16.5 grams/1 cup of raw oat)
- Chia seeds/ chia seed bars have the highest amount of fiber (100 grams of dried chia seeds contain 34 grams of fiber)
Start exercising as soon as you can
Physical activity, such as walking, has also been shown to decrease the risk of constipation after surgery.
Of course, be sure to follow the instructions of your surgeon regarding your limits on exercise.
Avoid eating some foods
There are foods that are prone to cause and worsen constipation after surgery more than others.
So, do well to avoid them.
Some foods you should avoid or at least limit consumption of until the issue of constipation after surgery is resolved, include:
- Dairy foods,
- Processed foods and
- Refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, and white pasta
- Caffeine: Caffeine is dehydrating, which can make matters worse.
So you may need to halt the coffee, tea, and caffeinated soda (plus chocolate) for now. Your body can’t afford dehydration at this point.
Always drink plenty of fluids and water to stay hydrated
Dehydration can cause constipation. It is very important to drink water regularly after surgery throughout the day to stay hydrated.
Diluted fruit juices, especially prune juice, can also help. In order for your bowels to work well and for you to pass stool with ease, you need to be hydrated.
If you don’t have enough water in your intestines or colon, your body will soak up the water that would otherwise make up a healthy stool.
Note that if your drink contains alcohol, added sugar, or caffeine, it will not be as hydrating.
It is advisable to avoid caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, and cola. As they can make dehydration worse as I said earlier.
Also, the opioid pain medication (that may be prescribed after orthopedic surgery) can dehydrate you. Some laxatives too can also contribute to dehydration.
So, aim to drink 8 cups of water (sparkling, flat or warm) per day.
As dehydration isn’t good for you when you are experiencing constipation after surgery.
Herbal teas also count towards your water intake.
Eat and Snack regularly
The body is structured to pass out stool when food is introduced.
Hence, consuming food can stimulate a bowel movement. This is one reason why a bowel movement after breakfast is common (food goes in so stool must go out).
For this reason, small and frequent meals can encourage a regular bowel movement.
In conclusion, following the above natural tips can be helpful for constipation after surgery.
These tips are so natural as you have seen, and will have no possible side effects.
Most of the time, post-surgical constipation is short-term and not related to any complications or resulting disorder from their procedure.
Still, even the most prepared patients may still experience continued difficulty.
Above all, remember that everyone recovers differently and at different paces. If your drug use attempts to resolve constipation after surgery do not lead to the desired results or if the symptoms persist or worsen. Be sure to use these natural measures to combat constipation after surgery.