What does the term "sleepy bowel" mean?


Quick Answer

Following colon or rectal surgery, sleepy bowel, an abnormal function of the bowels, results from anesthesia, lying in bed and pain medicine, states Cornell University. In a few days after surgery, sleepy bowel can cause vomiting, nausea, inability to pass gas and bloating.

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Full Answer

Colon and rectal surgeries treat diseases such as Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis and cancer, advises Cornell University. Before the operation, prepare the bowels by consuming a clear liquid diet, with no eating or drinking after midnight and no medications, unless allowed by the physician.

Following the surgical procedure, temporary ileus, as well as sleepy bowel, may occur, notes Cornell University. Inserting a nasogastric tube relieves the symptoms of sleepy bowel by emptying the stomach until normal function of the bowel returns. Normal function may cause abdominal cramping, which may worsen if the patient ingests pain medication. Ileus may also worsen with pain medication.

Important activities following surgery include coughing, sitting up and walking, states Cornell University. It also helps to cough while holding a pillow against the abdomen and to use the lung incentive spirometer about 10 times daily. Sitting up and walking aids in lung expansion as well. Walking around the hospital also lessens pain without using medication and diminishes clot development in the legs following surgery.

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