Chapter 3: Symptoms and health concerns
Constipation – What can help
Below are some of the things healthcare providers and families may do to help. Click on each for more information.
What the healthcare provider can do
The exam may include pressing on the abdomen and feeling for tenderness or hard spots.
A blood test can determine if dehydration is present and how severe it might be. Other tests such as an abdominal X-ray may be considered, depending on what is suspected.
If the person is taking opioid medications, they should already be prescribed a laxative by their healthcare provider. Sometimes an additional one may be needed if the person becomes constipated.
What families can do
Avoid using psyllium (Metamucil) or other laxatives not recommended by the healthcare provider. These may result in bloating and further slowing of bowel activity.
Even if the person is in bed, encourage small movements or arm exercises.
Avoid fried foods and hard cheeses. Serve foods that are high in fibre such as dried fruit and fresh vegetables. Encourage increased fluid intake unless otherwise directed by their healthcare provider.
Encourage the person to visit the bathroom at the same time each day, or 30–60 minutes after eating.
Provide space so the person has privacy in the bathroom or bedroom if using a commode. If bowel movements are painful, offer pain medication prior to a bowel movement.