Do the elderly even have bowel sounds?

Posted

Hi. New nurse here. My population is mostly geriatric, occasionally I get a young adult or middle aged patient. I've noticed I want to chart hypo bowels on all the elderly because I barely hear anything. It is very different from what I hear in the 30-50 year old crowd. I notice other nurses chart normal bowel sounds for patients that barely have a gurgle in one quadrant. Is this normal?

VANurse2010

VANurse2010

Has 6 years experience. 1,526 Posts

Haha, um, yes. Get a better better stethoscope and try listening in each quadrant for a few minutes.

Julius Seizure

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care. 1 Article; 2,280 Posts

This is a good question. Are you listening for long enough? For example, you cant officially say bowel sounds are absent unless you have listened for like 3-5 minutes in EACH quadrant. Lets be honest, how often do we as nurses listen that long? :)

I think sometimes bowel sounds get charted more as a yes/no, than on their quality. Elderly can have hypoactive bowels and decreased motility, so its something to be aware of during your assessment. Its also important to consider that bowel sounds are more active at meal times than other times. I notice that, in my patients (pediatric), some nurses chart that bowel sounds are present when I find them to be not only present, but actually HYPERactive.

Google some sound clips of bowel sounds to give you practice in what you should be listening for. And good for you for wanting to keep sharpening your assessment skills!

Farawyn

Has 25 years experience. 12,646 Posts

They do, and they are FABULOUS!

BrandonLPN, LPN

Has 5 years experience. 3,358 Posts

This is a good question.

Is it?

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 11 years experience. 2 Articles; 6,837 Posts

Barely a gurgle is still a gurgle, which is all that is required. You don't need a series of sounds for them to be considered active. One little "bloop" in each quadrant and done. Assessment complete.

RNsRWe, ASN, RN

4 Articles; 10,428 Posts

Nope, New BSN, there are no bowel sounds on an elderly patient. In fact, the ingested food completely evaporates when it hits the stomach. Completely silent process. The moment anyone reaches the age of 65 (62 if Federal employee) they must turn in their bowel sounds privileges. :cheeky:

j/k.

Red Kryptonite

Red Kryptonite

Specializes in hospice. Has 3 years experience. 2,212 Posts

I think you're doing better than me. There's an awesome little 1XX year old lady where I'm doing my clinicals, who has severe kyphosis and some cardiac issues along with all her other health problems.....and I couldn't find her apical pulse! I heard her lungs great and seemed right on the edge of her heart sounds a couple times, but could not find a place where I could really hear it.

Farawyn

Has 25 years experience. 12,646 Posts

I think you're doing better than me. There's an awesome little 1XX year old lady where I'm doing my clinicals, who has severe kyphosis and some cardiac issues along with all her other health problems.....and I couldn't find her apical pulse! I heard her lungs great and seemed right on the edge of her heart sounds a couple times, but could not find a place where I could really hear it.

Did you send her to find The Wizard?

Red Kryptonite

Red Kryptonite

Specializes in hospice. Has 3 years experience. 2,212 Posts

Did you send her to find The Wizard?

Every time I see her she tells me she's lived too long already. She'd just turn down the upgrade.

Honestly, she cracks me up. I kind of love her. She says she's lived too damn long and there's no point anymore, and she's as cheerful as the day is long when she says it.

Which reminds me, she's Jewish and I meant to get her a Passover card for when I see her Saturday....