Gastrointestinal Function

R.H. is a 74-year-old black woman, who presents to the family practice clinic for a scheduled appointment. She complains of feeling bloated and constipated for the past month, some-times going an entire week with only one bowel movement. Until this episode, she has been very regular all of her life, having a bowel movement every day or every other day. She reports straining most of the time and it often takes her 10 minutes at a minimum to initiate a bowel movement. Stools have been extremely hard. She denies pain during straining. A recent colonoscopy was negative for tumors or other lesions. She has not yet taken any medications to provide relief for her constipation. Furthermore, she reports frequent heartburn (3–4 times each week), most often occur-ring soon after retiring to bed. She uses three pillows to keep herself in a more upright position during sleep. On a friend’s advice, she purchased a package of over-the-counter aluminum hydroxide tablets to help relieve the heartburn. She has had some improvement since she began taking the medicine. She reports using naproxen as needed for arthritic pain her hands and knees. She states that her hands and knees are extremely stiff when she rises in the morning. Because her arthritis has been getting worse, she has stopped taking her daily walks and now gets very little exercise.

Case Study Questions

  1. In your own words define constipation and name the risk factors that might lead to develop constipation. List recommendations you would give to a patient who is suffering from constipation. You might use a previous experience you might have.
  2. Based on the clinical manifestations on R.H. case study, name and explain signs and symptoms presented that are compatible with the constipation diagnosis. Complement your list with signs and symptoms not present on the case study.
  3. Sometimes as an associate diagnosis and a complication, patients with constipation could have anemia. Would you consider that possibility based on the information provided on the case study?