Nursing Interventions For Constipation

Constipation is a common problem that affects many people. The American College of Gastroenterology defines constipation as having fewer than three bowel movements per week or difficult stools. This can make it difficult for the muscles in the colon to contract and move stool through the digestive tract. Constipation can cause abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms. Nursing interventions are an important part of assisting patients with constipation because they often help make patients more comfortable while they wait for their medications to work or while waiting for surgery if needed.

Nursing Interventions For Constipation

1. Setting goals

Before you begin a fitness regimen, it’s important to create goals for yourself. If you have not yet set your personal fitness goals, consider the following questions:

  • How much weight do I want to lose?
  • Do I want to run a marathon or just be able to walk up and down my street without stopping?
  • When do I want to reach my goal by? (3 months, 6 months, etc.)

2. Encouraging fluids

Fluid intake is important for healthy bowel function, as it helps to lubricate the stool and soften it. Fluids can be in the form of water, juice or broth. Fluids can also be in the form of a drink (such as a glass of milk) or food (such as an ice pop).

3. Monitoring nutrition

It is important to monitor your overall nutrition when you have constipation. There are certain foods that should be avoided, such as those with a high fat content or that are spicy or acidic in nature. This is because these types of foods can cause the digestive system to slow down and become sluggish, resulting in constipation. In addition, it is also wise to avoid foods that have a high sugar content because they will cause blood sugar levels to spike and then drop quickly, which may also lead to constipation due to the fluctuation of insulin levels.

However, there are several dietary changes you can make as well:

  • Eat more fiber-rich fruits (such as berries) and vegetables (like broccoli).
  • Drink lots of water every day; this will help keep things moving along smoothly through your intestinal tract!

4. Assisting with positioning

  • Have the patient sit in a chair, if possible.
  • If the patient is bedridden, help them to lie on their left side using a small pillow to prop up their head and shoulders (see image).
  • If the patient is unable to sit up, help them to lie on their side with another pillow or rolled towel under the knees for support (see image).

5. Taking a history

  • Ask the patient to describe their constipation.
  • Determine if the constipation is mild, moderate or severe.
  • Ask how often they experience constipation – daily, weekly or monthly?
  • How long have they had the problem? For example: “How long have you had trouble going to the bathroom?” or “Do you remember when it started?”
  • Is there a pattern to your bowel movements (e.g., always before breakfast)? If so, is there anything that causes these symptoms (e.g., eating certain foods)?

6. Performing an exam

  • Examine the abdomen:
  • Check for abdominal distention.
  • Check for stool in the rectum.
  • Check for abdominal tenderness.
  • Check for abdominal pain, which is usually described as cramping or colicky and may be worse with a change in position or at night. If your patient has pain that causes him to moan or writhe with his eyes closed, it could be related to his constipation and should be investigated further.
  • Check for an abdominal mass (such as a tumor), which can cause bloating and discomfort but is unlikely on its own to cause constipation unless you suspect something else like colon cancer or diverticulitis is going on here! Likewise, don’t forget about those pesky things called hernias—you wouldn’t want one of those happening while you’re trying not to poop yourself all over everything!

7. Administering a suppository

Giving a suppository

A suppository is a medicine that is inserted into the rectum (the lower part of your bowel), where it dissolves and passes into the bloodstream. A suppository can be used to treat constipation. It may also help with other problems such as stomach cramps, bloating, nausea or diarrhoea.

To administer a suppository:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching the rectum or taking more than one dose in a day without having first consulted your doctor.
  • Use an applicator device if you have one available; otherwise use some other device such as an oral syringe or clean finger (unless specified otherwise by your doctor).
  • Lie on one side with knees drawn up towards chest while inserting it high into the rectum using fingers or applicator device; if necessary, keep one hand over buttocks while inserting suppository so you do not lose hold of it once inserted; insert only what can reasonably be retained without discomforting patient – usually 1/2 inch at most; do not try to push beyond this point – just leave it there until medication begins working within 30 minutes to 2 hours after insertion time has passed for better results! If it does not work within 30 minutes then try again later next day at same time each day until success occurs!

8. Applying heat or cold to the abdomen

Applying heat to the abdomen may help to relax the muscle tone of the colon, making it easier for stool to pass through. Heat can be applied by using a heating pad or hot water bottle, or by taking a warm bath (just make sure you keep your head above water).

Other methods that can be done at home include:

  • Placing a towel soaked in hot water on the abdomen
  • Placing an electric blanket over you while lying down

Applying cold has also been shown to aid in relieving constipation. The cold helps numb your intestines and makes them contract so they’re more likely to move waste through your system. If you decide to use this method at home, make sure you first check with your doctor; this technique may not be right for everyone!

9. Evaluating for pain or discomfort

When evaluating for pain or discomfort, the nurse should ask the patient to describe their symptoms. If a patient has a difficult time describing their symptoms, they may benefit from having a family member or friend present during the evaluation.

Additionally, it is important to note whether or not the patient can tolerate certain movements and pressure over their abdomen. This can help to identify possible complications such as internal organ damage or obstruction of bowel flow.

10. Constipation is very common and a nurse can help make a patient more comfortable.

As a nurse, you can help make your patient more comfortable. You can help with pain and discomfort by offering reassurance that the constipation will pass. You can also discuss other measures such as drinking lots of fluids or using laxatives that are available over the counter at pharmacies.

You may want to suggest ways for your patient to achieve better nutrition, such as eating high fiber foods like whole grains and vegetables, or adding fiber supplements to their diet if they don’t think they will eat enough otherwise.

You could also recommend changes in fluid intake: encouraging patients to drink plenty of water during the day (and before bed) may be helpful when dealing with constipation issues, but only promoting increased fluid intake without giving any specific suggestions about what type of fluid is best could lead people toward choosing sugary drinks instead of plain water which would actually worsen their symptoms!

Finally, positioning matters too – consider asking if there are any other positions that might bring relief?


Constipation is a common condition that can be managed by nurses. It is important for patients to understand that they are not alone in this problem and there are many treatment options available. Nurses play an important role in educating their patients about constipation and helping them find relief from it.

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