Chapter Summary:In this chapter, we learned all about the digestive process that our bodies go through to convert our food into energy. The digestive system is also responsible for removing waste products from our system as well as reabsorbing water from our fecal matter in the large intestine. The digestive system is very long but is coiled up in order to fit within our abdominal cavity. The digestive system begins at the mouth and ends at the anus.
The digestive system begins at the mouth. In the mouth is where the early breakdown of food occurs. This occurs by chewing. Chewing is also known as mastication. Food that is chewed then travels down the esophagus and is pushed down to the stomach by wave-like muscle contractions.The esophagus then leads to the stomach. The stomach empties into the duodenum which is the first part of the small intestine. The small intestine then leads into the large intestine and waste products are excreted from the anus.

Application to Nursing:
Understanding digestion has a lot of applications to the field of nursing. We often have patients who are older and their bowls have slowed down due to age and because of lack of overall body water. In the critical care unit where I work, we have seriously ill patients who are sometimes on ventilators and may not eat for days or even weeks because of surgery and being intubated. The lack of food intake along with the lack of activity can cause constipation for these patients. The nurse mu be aware of this and be able to intervene to help the patient produce a bowel movement. Patients will often have a nasogastric or and orogastric tube in place while in the critical care unit. They are used for a variety of reasons. Usually the tube is hooked up to low suction and provides that suction intermittently to clear out a patients stomach contents. The nurse must know what to expect the gastric juices to look like on a normal basis so that they may be more alert to gastric juices that are abnormal looking. Bowel sounds are part of a usual patient assessment. Nurses must be aware of what these bowel sounds implicate. The bowel sound can be normally active, which is around 3 sounds in 15 seconds. They can also be hypoactive which is less than 3 sounds per 15 seconds, or hyperactive which is more than 3 sounds per 15 seconds.

Essential Question: