Recognizing and Treating Opioid-Induced Constipation in Chronically Ill Children
Jamie B. Rosenberg
Opioid-induced constipation (OIC) is a problem that plagues a large number of patients who require pain management through opioids. Research suggests about 40% of patients who are prescribed opioids experience constipation (Jitpakdee & Mandee, 2014). For hospitalized children, the most commonly used intervention for both OIC prophylaxis and treatment is a combination of different laxatives. Research suggests, however, that this treatment plan is often unsuccessful and leaves patients dissatisfied. Evidence indicates treatment modalities aimed toward OIC are not started early enough, and many do not treat the root cause of OIC (Gyawali et al., 2015). Opioid receptor antagonists are emerging in the field of OIC management. The key factor to receptor antagonists in the treatment of OIC is the inhibition of intestinal paralysis, without the disruption of the analgesic effect of the opioid medication. Education on the most effective treatment modalities for OIC in chronically ill children is important for nurses and frontline providers. An understanding of OIC, the importance of early intervention, and the most effective treatment modalities will allow providers to better advocate for and treat their patients.