Child Health

Constipation

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • What is Constipation
  • What causes Constipation
  • What are the symptoms of Constipation
  • At home remedies
  • When to see a doctor 

 

What is Constipation?

Constipation is the infrequent passage of stools or sometimes the passage of hard stools. Bowel patterns vary from child to child, and so what’s normal for your child may be different from what’s normal for another child and this can also define what constipation is in a particular child. Most children are known to have bowel movements 1 or 2 times a day while other children may go 2 days before passing stool. So if your child is altogether healthy and passes stool once in 2 days without any discomfort, then such a child is not said to be constipated.

What are the causes of Constipation?

Constipation is a common problem in children and can be caused by various reasons. Some of the causes include:

  • Changes in diet or not enough fiber or fluid in your child’s diet can cause constipation
  • Early toilet training or other changes in your family or your child’s life such as relocation, new school, e.t.c can also trigger constipation
  • Withholding: Your child may be withholding stool if he has a diaper rash to avoid painful stooling, if he has had prior painful experience with passing stool, is ashamed to use a public toilet, or simply because he doesn’t want to take a break from playing or doesn’t want to be left alone on a potty
  • Illness: Constipation may be a side effect of some medicines and can also result from certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism

Who is more at risk?

Constipation in children is more likely for kids who:

  • Have a family history of constipation
  • Have a medical condition affecting their anus or rectum
  • Do not eat enough fruits, fibers, and vegetables
  • Are sedentary
  • Do not drink enough fluids
  • Are on certain medications

What are the symptoms of Constipation

  • Going several days without any bowel movement or less than 3 bowel movements in a week
  • Abdominal pain
  • Passing stools that are hard, dry, and difficult to pass
  • Blood on the surface of hard stool
  • Poor appetite
  • Cranky behaviour
  • Traces of liquid or clay-like stool in your child’s underwear — a sign that stool is backed up in the rectum

At home remedies

Although constipation can cause discomfort and pain, it is usually temporary and can be treated. Some remedies to try include:

  • Encouraging your child to add in more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to his diet and also drinking more fluids
  • Laxatives can be used but with a doctor’s prescription (Never give laxatives to children without a doctor’s approval. Laxatives can be dangerous to your child’s health)

When to see a doctor

As much as constipation in children are not entirely serious most of the time, there are however sometimes when constipation may be a sign of something more serious.

Call your doctor if the constipation lasts more than 2 weeks and is accompanied by

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the stool
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Painful tears in the skin around the anus (anal fissures)
  • Intestinal protrusion out of the anus (rectal prolapse)
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