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Constipation in Children
is when your child has hard, dry bowel movements or goes longer than usual in between bowel movements. Constipation may be caused by new foods, not going to the bathroom often enough, or too many milk products. A lack of liquids and high-fiber foods can also cause constipation.
Common symptoms include the following:
- 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
Seek care immediately if:
- 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.
Contact your child's healthcare provider if:
- Management tips do not help your child have regular bowel movements.
- It has been longer than usual between your child's bowel movements.
- Your child has bowel movements that are hard or painful to pass.
- Your child has an upset stomach.
- You have any questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Relieve your child's constipation:
Medicines can help your child have a bowel movement more easily. Medicines may increase moisture in your child's bowel movement or increase the motion of his or her intestines.
- A suppository may be used to help soften your child's bowel movements. This may make them easier to pass. A suppository is guided into your child's rectum through his or her anus.
- Laxatives may help relax and loosen your child's intestines to help him or her have a bowel movement. Your child's healthcare provider can tell you the best laxative for your child. Use a laxative made specifically for your child's age and symptoms. Adult laxatives may be too strong for your child. Your provider may recommend your child only use laxatives for a short time. Long-term use may make his or her bowels dependent on the medicine.
- An enema is liquid medicine used to clear bowel movement from your child's rectum. The medicine is put into your child's rectum through his or her anus.
Help your child prevent constipation:
- Give your child liquids as directed. Liquids help keep your child's bowel movements soft. Ask how much liquid to give your child each day and which liquids are best for him or her. Your child may need to drink more liquids than usual. Limit sports drinks, soda, and other drinks that contain caffeine.
- 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. High-fiber foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, and beans. Depending on your child's age, his or her provider may also recommend a fiber supplement.
- Help your child be active. Regular physical activity can help stimulate your child's intestines. Ask 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 or her to sit on the toilet for at least 10 minutes. Do this even if he or she 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 1 time each day can help relax his or her rectum. This can make it easier for him or her to have a bowel movement.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.
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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.
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