Medical Surgical Constipation #4

Question

A client is taking polyethylene glycol for irregular bowel movements. When asked by the client how it helps alleviate the constipation, which is the best response by the nurse?

Answers

  1. “It works by attracting water into the intestines through osmosis, making the stool easier to pass.”
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because polyethylene glycol is an osmotic laxative. It works by attracting water into the intestines through osmosis, making stools easier to pass. It usually takes 2-3 days to have a bowel movement after administration.

  2. “It boosts the bulk of stools by retaining water, which encourages the bowels to push the stools out.”
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because this is the definition of a bulk laxative. Bulk laxatives are fiber supplements. Fiber supplements increase the bulk of stools by retaining liquid.

  3. “It stimulates the intestinal muscles to contract, speeding up the bowel movement.”
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because stimulant laxatives stimulate the intestinal muscles to contract to produce a bowel movement within 6 to 12 hours. These are usually used when quick relief from constipation is required.

  4. “It increases the amount of water in your stools, making stools softer and easier to pass.”
    • Rationale:

      This answer is incorrect since stool softeners increase the amount of water in the stools. Stools are softer and easier to pass, usually within 12 to 72 hours.

Overview

Polyethylene glycol is an osmotic laxative used for irregular bowel movements caused by constipation. It works by attracting water into the intestines through osmosis, making stools easier to pass.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

Polyethylene glycol is an osmotic laxative used for irregular bowel movements caused by constipation. It works by drawing water into the intestines through osmosis, making stools easier to pass. This type of laxative is recommended for clients with chronic constipation for long-term use. Due to the osmotic mechanism of bringing water into the intestines, these type laxatives can cause dehydration in some clients. Other side effects are bloating and diarrhea. Clients are advised to drink more water throughout the day while taking osmotic laxatives. Bowel movements are usually produced in 2 to 3 days.

Test Taking Tip

Know the different types of laxatives and how each works.

Video Rationale