Sunday, January 15, 2006

fecal impactions

Fecal impaction is stool that has remained in the colon until it becomes exceedingly hard. Constipation and fecal impaction is prevalent among the elderly due to lack of body mobility caused by stroke, depression, senility, and other chronic debilitating diseases. Symptoms of fecal impaction include abdominal pain, decreased appetite, headache, and watery diarrhea-like stools with intermittent constipation.
Fecal impactions usually can be softened and removed by oil and cleansing enemas. If these treatments are not effective digital removal may be necessary. For the hospitalized patient, efforts should be made to identify the causes of the impaction and make changes in lifestyle and diet. Improving intake of fiber foods such as fruits and whole grains, and fluids, eliminating constipating drugs, encouraging ambulation, and providing privacy promote normal bowel elimination. For paraplegics (paralysis of both lower extremities), digital stimulation may be necessary. Stool softners, laxatives, and enemas may also be necessary on a regular basis to prevent an impaction.
See also CONSTIPATION.
Scherer, J. C. Introductory Medical-Surgical Nursing. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1982.
Steinberg, F. U. Care of the Geriatric Patient, 6th ed. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Co., 1983.

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