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Constipation In Children

What is constipation?

Constipation is when your child has hard, dry bowel movements or goes longer than usual in between bowel movements.

What causes constipation in children?

  • New foods in your child's diet

  • Not going to the bathroom often enough

  • Too much milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, or other milk products

  • Not eating enough high-fiber foods

  • Not drinking enough liquids each day

  • Emotional issues that cause him to be tense

What are the signs and symptoms of constipation in children?

  • Pain or crying during the bowel movement

  • Abdominal pain or cramping

  • Nausea or full feeling

  • Liquid or solid bowel movement in your child's underwear

  • Blood on the toilet paper or bowel movement

How is constipation in children diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's bowel movements and examine him. He may take a sample of bowel movement from your child's rectum. Your child may need an x-ray of his abdomen. This will help your child's healthcare provider see if your child has constipation.

How is constipation in children treated?

The following treatments can make it easier for your child to have a bowel movement. Ask your child's healthcare provider before you give him any of the following medicines:

  • Fiber supplements: This medicine helps decrease your child's constipation by adding bulk and softness to his bowel movements.

  • Bowel movement softeners: This medicine softens your child's bowel movement.

  • Laxatives: This medicine helps your child's intestines relax and loosen.

How can I help manage my child's constipation?

  • Increase the amount of liquids your child drinks: Liquids can help keep your child's bowel movements soft. Limit sports drinks, soda, and other caffeinated drinks.

  • Feed your child a variety of high-fiber foods: This may help decrease constipation by adding bulk and softness to your child's bowel movements. Healthy foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Ask your child's healthcare provider for more information about a high-fiber diet.

  • Help your child be active: Regular physical activity can help stimulate your child's intestines. Talk to your child's healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for your child.

  • Set up a regular time each day for your child to have a bowel movement: This may help train your child's body to have regular bowel movements. Help him to sit on the toilet for at least 10 minutes at the same time each day, even if he does not have a bowel movement. Do not pressure your young child to have a bowel movement.

  • Give your child a warm bath: A warm bath at least once a day can help relax his rectum. This can make it easier for him to have a bowel movement.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • It has been longer than usual between your child's bowel movements.

  • Your child has an upset stomach.

  • You have any questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You see blood in your child's diaper or bowel movement.

  • Your child's abdomen is swollen.

  • Your child does not want to eat or drink.

  • Your child has severe abdomen or rectal pain.

  • Your child is vomiting.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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