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What you need to know about constipation after surgery

The Checkup blog reports on what to expect when experiencing constipation after surgery and how to diminish the effects according to experts including HSS anesthesiologist Jemiel Nejim, MD, and pharmacist Inara Nejim, PhD.

“It’s quite common, even expected, for patients to be constipated immediately after surgery,” said Dr. J. Nejim, due to a variety of contributing factors. The anesthetic regimen administered during surgery is likely to have an effect on constipation during recovery. “Anesthesia is a broad term that describes a number of different medications,” he explained. “Both the type of anesthesia and the surgical duration affect the likelihood of postoperative constipation. Surgeries that last longer in duration tend to be associated with a higher predisposition to constipation.” Some practices focus on using regional anesthesia over general anesthesia, which helps to reduce the number of drugs used and thus may reduce the likelihood of constipation after surgery.

According to Dr. I. Nejim, “Medications from the opioid drug class, such as oxycodone or tramadol, are a cornerstone foundation in managing postoperative pain, and one of their well-known side effects is constipation.”

Dr. J. Nejim advised, “If someone has concerns before surgery regarding potential constipation, the best thing to do is to speak up and openly talk about those concerns before surgery.” This is especially true for those who already suffer from chronic constipation. If there are medications that traditionally work well for you, identify these with your medical team prior to surgery. If allowed by your physician, increase your fiber intake or begin a regimen of stool softeners prior to surgery if constipation is a concern.

One of the best ways to prevent complications of untreated constipation at home is by having an honest conversation about medications during the discharge process—and in follow-up phone calls, added Dr. I. Nejim. A nurse goes over all your prescriptions and can explain how to effectively manage constipation at home using diet and over-the-counter medication.

Read the full article at Singlecare.com.