Understanding Constipation in Children
June 03, 2024

Understanding Constipation in Children

Constipation is a common issue among children, often causing discomfort and concern for both the child and their parents. It means not going to the bathroom very often, having hard or dry poop, and finding it difficult or painful to poop. As children get older, it's easy to miss the fact they are constipated. Doing a bowel motion every day doesn't necessarily rule out constipation. One of the most common reasons children wet the bed at night past daytime toilet training age is constipation.

Causes of Constipation in Children

Constipation in children can be caused by various factors, including dietary habits, lifestyle, and underlying medical conditions. Some common causes include:

  1. Dietary Factors: A diet low in fiber and high in processed foods can lead to constipation. Fiber is essential for healthy bowel movements as it adds bulk to the stool and helps it pass more easily through the intestines.

  2. Inadequate Fluid Intake: Not drinking enough water can result in hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. Proper hydration is crucial for maintaining healthy bowel movements. Drinking a small glass of water at intervals during the day rather than small sips is a good way to ensure fluid intake is sufficient.

  3. Toilet Training Issues: During toilet training, some children may resist using the toilet or feel anxious about the process, leading to withholding behaviors that can cause constipation.

  4. Lack of Physical Activity: Physical activity helps stimulate intestinal function. A sedentary lifestyle can slow down the digestive system, leading to constipation.

  5. Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and anatomical abnormalities, can contribute to constipation.

  6. Medications: Some medications, such as antacids containing calcium or aluminum and certain pain relievers, can cause constipation as a side effect.

Difficulties Associated with Constipation

Constipation can cause a range of physical and emotional difficulties for children:

  1. Abdominal Pain: Constipation often leads to cramping and discomfort in the abdominal area. This pain can be severe and distressing for children.

  2. Straining and Painful Bowel Movements: Passing hard stools can be painful and may cause tears in the delicate skin around the anus (anal fissures), leading to further discomfort and bleeding.

  3. Encopresis: Chronic constipation can result in encopresis, a condition where impacted stool in the colon leads to involuntary leakage of liquid stool around the blockage. This can be embarrassing and distressing for the child.

  4. Decreased Appetite: The discomfort and bloating associated with constipation can reduce a child's appetite, leading to inadequate nutrition.

  5. Emotional Distress: Persistent constipation can cause anxiety and stress, affecting a child's overall well-being and mood.


Remedies for Constipation

Several strategies can help alleviate constipation in children, promoting regular bowel movements and reducing discomfort:

  1. Dietary Changes:

    • Increase fiber intake by incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into the child's diet.
    • Limit processed foods, dairy products, and foods high in fat and sugar, which can contribute to constipation.
  2. Hydration:

    • Ensure the child drinks plenty of water throughout the day. Adequate hydration helps soften the stool and facilitates easier passage.
  3. Regular Physical Activity:

    • Encourage the child to engage in physical activities, such as playing outside, swimming, or participating in sports. Exercise helps stimulate bowel function.
  4. Establish a Routine:

    • Set a regular toilet routine, encouraging the child to use the bathroom at the same times each day, especially after meals when the body's natural reflex to have a bowel movement is strongest.
  5. Positive Reinforcement:

    • Use positive reinforcement, such as praise and rewards, to encourage the child to use the toilet and avoid withholding stool.
  6. Medications and Supplements:

    • In some cases, pediatricians may recommend over-the-counter fiber supplements or stool softeners. However, these should be used under medical supervision.
  7. Consult a Healthcare Provider:

    • If constipation persists or is accompanied by severe pain, blood in the stool, or other concerning symptoms, seek medical advice to rule out underlying medical conditions and receive appropriate treatment.

Products that help :

Encopresis Briefs  - designed to solve the stress of soiling accidents

"I like them because they keep the smell in and stop the stains on my pants and shorts. It feels like I'm wearing normal undies"   (B aged 7)