Management of constipation

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Date: Dec. 17, 2003
From: Nursing Standard(Vol. 18, Issue 14-16)
Publisher: Royal College of Nursing Publishing Company (RCN)
Document Type: Article
Length: 635 words

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Aim and objectives

The aim of this protocol is to ensure that nurses adopt an appropriate and effective management regime to treat constipation in patients who have colostomies. The objectives are to:

* Identify the clinical characteristics of constipation.

* Investigate the causes of constipation.

* Understand the causes of constipation.

* Treat constipation effectively.


Constipation is not a disease but a symptom, and can mean different things to different people (Chiarelli and Markwell 1992). It encompasses infrequent defecation (Larach 1995).

Constipation is defined as two to three or fewer stools per week and/or repeated straining (Chiarelli and Markwell 1992, Larach 1995, Teahon 1999). These definitions relate specifically to people who have the use of their rectum, however, they can be adapted to include patients who have colostomies.

The clinical characteristics of constipation are shown in Box 1. A history should be taken from the patient and the following information included:

* Patient's usual colostomy elimination habits.

* Patient's perceptions of what is...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A112313753