How common is constipation? You are NOT alone.
Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint in primary, acute and long-term care settings in the United States. An estimated 4.4 million individuals in the United States have bowel issues of constipation and an estimated one million have incontinence. Constipation is a growing issue in American. The prevalence of constipation ranges between 40 and 50 percent in the elderly in long term care. Situations that place people at risk for acute constipation include imposed immobility, a change in toileting habits, dietary changes (whether self-imposed by dieting or for medical reasons), medications, and stress. The most common predisposing factors for chronic constipation include advanced age, being female, poor fluid and dietary intake, cognitive or functional impairment and ongoing privacy issues, Opioids are among the major medications that predispose patients to constipation (Levy, 1991; McMillan & Williams, 1989; Sykes, 1996).
Helpful hints. Diet and fluid intake will play an important part in improving your constipation. Always speak with your healthcare provider before changing your diet or exercise program.
How Much Should I Drink Every Day?
Drink plenty of fluids every day to keep your stool soft and to prevent constipation. A good guideline is 64 ounces everyday (drinks with alcohol or caffeine don’t count). If you exercise a lot or the weather is hot, drink more. Some people may need to limit how much they drink because of their bladder program. Talk with your healthcare professional about a good daily fluid goal that will work for both your bladder program and your bowel program.
Drinks like coffee, tea, cocoa, and soft drinks, contain caffeine and caffeine is a diuretic. Diuretics can cause you to lose even more fluid than you drink. Caffeine is also a stimulant. Consider keeping caffeine drinks to a minimum.
Scoop on the Poop:
Foods That Can Keep Stool Solid but Soft:
Foods that have a lot of fiber can absorb liquids and help make your stool solid but soft and easy to pass. High-fiber foods are fresh fruits and vegetables, dried peas and beans, and whole grain cereals and breads. It’s best to get the dietary fiber you need from a variety of food sources. A starting goal of at least 15 grams of fiber each day is recommended as part of a healthy diet. An increase in fiber is recommended only if it is necessary to produce a soft-formed stool. It’s a good idea to increase this amount gradually over a 6 week period to prevent a bloated feeling and too much gas. If you can’t eat as much fiber as your healthcare professional suggests, you may want to try fiber supplements or natural vegetable powders, like psyllium. Remember, if you use fiber to vary the consistency of your stool, you will have more total stool and may need to do bowel care more often.
There are no foods that cause diarrhea in everyone. Some people find fatty, spicy, or greasy foods seem to be related to diarrhea. Other people report that caffeine—found in coffee, tea,cocoa, chocolate and many soft drinks—appear to cause diarrhea. Diarrhea-causing bacteria can contaminate different foods as well. If you have episodes of diarrhea, keep a food record of what you eat and drink to help you identify what you’re sensitive to.
Not everyone will benefit from a high-fiber diet. You need to recall how much fiber you usually had in your diet before your injury or disease and how much you eat now. Talk with your healthcare professional.
Preventing Bowel Problems:
- Pay attention to your body, your stool, and your bowel care routine. You know yourself best; you’ll be the first to notice changes that may be important.
- When switching to DocuSol® or DocuSol® Plus, change only one component at a time. And give yourself plenty of time to decide if the change has helped. A good rule is to allow at least two weeks with your new bowel care program.
- Checkups are recommended at least once a year. Review your product usage, diet and exercise patterns with healthcare professional are suggested.