Bowel Management Tips
Any one of the factors listed below, or a combination of
factors, can affect the success of a bowel program. Changing one
factor may produce results almost immediately, or it may take
several days to see the results. Changing more than one factor
at a time makes it difficult to determine the effects of
individual factors, and may increase the time it takes to
develop a stable bowel program.
bowel history: What have your bowel habits been in the past?
Do you do your bowel program in the morning or evening? At the
same time every day? After a meal or warm beverage? What is
the interval between programs -- half a day, one day or two
days? (You should do a bowel program at least every 2-3 days
to reduce your risk of constipation, impaction and colon
Privacy and comfort:
Does someone else share your bathroom? Do you have enough time
to complete your program?
Stress: Has your appetite been affected? Are you able to relax?
Where do you do your program -- on a commode chair, raised
toilet seat, on the toilet, or in bed? It will probably work
better when you are sitting up because of gravity.
How much and what type of fluid do you drink? (Prune juice or
orange juice can stimulate the bowels, or another type of
fruit juice may work best for you.)
How much fibre or bulk (such as fruits and vegetables, bran,
whole grain breads and cereals) do you eat? Some foods (such
as dairy products, white potatoes, white bread and bananas)
can contribute to constipation, while others (such as excess
amounts of fruit, caffeine, or spicy foods) may soften the
stool or cause diarrhoea.
Some medicines (such as codeine, Ditropan, probanthine, and
aluminium-based antacids like Aludrox) can cause constipation,
while others (including some antibiotics, such as ampicillin,
and magnesium-based antacids such as Mylanta and Maalox) can
cause diarrhoea. Consult your health care provider for
information about the medications you are taking.
A case of the flu, a cold or an intestinal infection may
affect your bowel program while you are ill. (Even if your
digestive system is not directly affected, your eating habits,
fluid intake or mobility may change, which can alter your
level/Mobility: How much exercise do you get? How much time do you spend out
Hot weather increases the evaporation of body fluids, which
can lead to dehydration and constipation.
abdominal massage: Massaging the lower abdomen in a circular, clockwise motion
from right to left increases bowel activity.
Valsalva (bearing down)
This technique is not recommended for patients with cardiac
adaptive devices: Devices such as a suppository inserter, finger extension or
digital stimulator may be required to assist you in
establishing a successful bowel program.
What does the bowel do?
Methods for emptying the bowel
Bowel Management Tips
What to avoid