Welcome to Episode 98

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Tip of The Week- Review on GI Elimination

Bowel movement is the end result of digestion where what is left from the substances that we eat are expelled from the body after all the nutrients have been absorbed. In a normal functioning GI tract, bowel is expelled at least three times in week up to three times in 24 hours. However, certain factors like physical conditions and infections can disrupt the normal elimination patterns of the body.

Some of the most common changes in elimination pattern are constipation and diarrhea. In diarrhea, bowel movements occur more frequently than normal because the irritated muscles in the lower GI tract move faster. Consistency of stool may be soft or watery depending on the underlying cause of diarrhea. Most common causes are food poisoning, ingestion of bacteria from contaminated food or water, and other GI disorders.

On the other hand, constipation is a condition where the passage of stool becomes less frequent than normal. Fecal material is hard in consistency, dry and difficult to pass. Common causes for constipation include poor diet, poor bowel habits, medications and physical conditions like pregnancy.

In assessing for patients with elimination problems, nurses must first know the normal pattern because frequency of elimination depends for each and every individual. The nurse should also assess underlying causes for the change in bowel movement and try to aim interventions at resolving the cause.

The following can be used for patient education points on ways to improve elimination patterns:

  • maintain hydration
  • develop regular bowel habits
  • maintain a well balanced diet
  • exercise regularly (aids in peristalsis)
  • use laxatives in moderation and avoid using it for a long period of time

MedlinePlus Article on Bowel Movement

Constipation in Adults by eMedicineHealth

Normal Function of Lower GI Tract


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