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Gastrointestinal Function

Definition of constipation, risk factors, and recommendations

          Constipation is having less than three bowel movements in a week and presents with symptoms such as the passage or hard stools, straining when defecating, and tenesmus. The risk factors for developing constipation vary with age and gender. Some of the principal risk factors among older adults include female gender, polypharmacy, low socio-economic status, low education levels, depression, a low-fiber diet, and physical inactivity (Mari et al., 2020). Comorbid illnesses are other risk factors for constipation; metabolic and endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypothyroidism, and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis are significant risk factors for constipation. The main constipation-inducing medications include opioids, NSAIDs, antipsychotics, and anticholinergics.

          Some of the recommendations for a person with constipation include eating extra fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to up their fiber intake. Additionally, they should consume plenty of liquids, such as water, helps keep their stools soft. Performing physical activity regularly and avoiding meals that may induce bloating or flatulence are key (Mari et al., 2020). If necessary, the patients should take over-the-counter laxatives or stool softeners with a doctor’s prescription. Scheduling routine bathroom visits and avoiding using laxatives often or for extended periods because this can cause dependence is a paramount recommendation for preventing constipation.

Signs and symptoms compatible with the constipation diagnosis

          R.H. exhibits some clinical manifestations that are compatible with the constipation diagnosis. The patient feels bloated, and bloating and abdominal discomfort are common symptoms of constipation. The patient reports that she sometimes goes an entire week with only one bowel movement, and infrequent passing of stool is symptom of constipation. Additionally, the patient reports straining most of the time when passing stool, taking up to a minimum of 10 minutes to initiate a bowel movement. Difficulty in passing stool is a main symptom of constipation. Patient also reports extremely hard stools, which is a sign of constipation. Other signs and symptoms of constipation are not captured in the case study. These include sensation of anorectal blockage or obstruction, and sensation of incomplete rectal evacuation (Sharma et al., 2021). The provided signs and symptoms are adequate to make a diagnosis of constipation.

Anemia as an associate diagnosis and a complication

          Based on the information on the case study, there is a possibility of an associate diagnosis of constipation and anemia. Some few factors associated with the medications the patient is using make anemia, a possible diagnosis. The patient is using over the counter aluminum hydroxide to manage heartburn, and this drug has been associated with a risk of constipation and anemia, as some of the primary side effects (Sharma et al., 2021). Additionally, the patient uses naproxen for her arthritic pain, and nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs can potentially damage the stomach lining, leading to blood loss that can lead to anemia, over the long-term. Anemia is also associated with different symptoms affecting the gastrointestinal tract, and one such symptom is constipation. Therefore, there is a likelihood of an associated diagnosis of constipation and anemia.

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