Managing Constipation

Patient & Family Teaching Sheet

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What is Constipation?

● Bowel movements occurring less often than your usual established bowel pattern
● Hard stool that may be difficult to pass
● Increased difficulty moving bowels

What to Report to the Care Team?

● No bowel movement in two (2) days
● Any change in the frequency or consistency (e.g., liquid, pebbles) of bowel movements
● Pain, cramping, tenderness
● A feeling of fullness or bloating
● Blood in stools
● Diarrhea or oozing stools

What Can Be Done?

The good news is that there are things you, your caregiver and the hospice/palliative care team can do for constipation. The health care team will determine the underlying cause and discuss the best treatments for your constipation.

● Record when bowel movements occur.
● Follow a regular bowel regimen, even if you are not constipated. Many medications can
cause constipation.
● Drink as much fluid (liquids) as is comfortable; drinking warm liquids may promote bowel movement. Fluids are found in liquids, juices, soups, fruits and vegetables, and frozen treats.
● Try to drink 6-8 cups daily.
● Eat more fruits and fruit juices, including dried fruits.
● Try to sit upright and avoid lying too much in bed.
● Increase physical activity if possible; walking can be beneficial.
● Take laxatives/stool softeners as ordered by your healthcare provider.
● Sit upright on the toilet, commode or bedpan.
● Establish routine times for toileting.
● Avoid bulk laxatives as determined by your health team if not drinking enough fluids.
● Notify the hospice/palliative care team if constipation continues.