Monday, March 18, 2013

Child Constipation – Causes and Treatment

Not a serious problem normally, but you tend to take your child constipation more seriously than yours. It should be considered differently from that of adults since their stool pattern undergoes change as they grow up.

How do you know that your child is constipated?
  1. When the child has fewer bowel movements than normal
  2. When his stools are hard and dry
  3. When he is experiencing difficulty during evacuation.
  4. When you notice him trying to withhold stool
Usually, child constipation doesn’t last long and no serious consequences.

Junk Food

Children constipation – Causes

  • Dehydration is a frequent cause of constipation among children. Parents normally discourage children from drinking more water. They feel, if the child drinks more water, his other food intake will go down.
  • Diet change - from all liquid diet to partly solid diet.
  • Stool withholding. This normally happens in children of 1½ years or more. What are reasons for it?
    • If your child is on potty training, he undergoes mental strain and withhold stool.
    •  Playtime interruption. Many children don't like to be interrupted during play. If a bowel movement during that time, they try to withhold it.
    • Using public toilet makes many children withhold stool. Privacy or cleanliness may be an issue.
    • New environment can make the child withhold stool. Newly admitted school children face such problems.
    • One or two painful evacuations can make a child withhold stool to escape from the pain. This cause-effect situation makes stool more dry and hard, making it more difficult to expel. A possibility is – a build up of soft stool may occur behind the hard stool and leak on to the child’s undergarment. Often, parents may mistake it for diarrhea.
  •  Low fiber diet. Children eating a lot of chocolates, bakery foods and desserts experience constipation.
  • Consumption of more junk food.
  • Milk and formula milk. Constipation is normally less in breast fed children. Breast fed child has more stools per day compared to children fed with milk from external sources.
  • Certain medical disorders like hypothyroidism can slow down intestinal muscular contractions that result in constipation.
  • Change in normal routine. Children are very sensitive. New place, new people etc can affect bowel movement.
  • Family history. Constipation doesn’t come from parents or ancestors. But, it is very likely for children on solid food to pick up eating habits and lifestyle from parents. If the parents are constipated, children too get it.
  • Certain medicines
Child constipation symptoms
  • Less frequent evacuations than normal
  •  Stool dry, hard and difficult to expel or painful
  • Traces of blood along with stool – the effect of skin cracks in the anus.
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stool withholding postures – tightening buttock muscles, crossing his legs while standing, not able to stand in a fixed position and holding and pressing both buttocks together are some of the postures. One can easily identify them.
  • Soiling of undergarments
  • Worms in stool. This can cause anemia and weight loss

 Child constipation treatment
  • Allow your child to drink as much water as he wants. Rest assured. He will not drink excess water. But, avoid soft drinks.
  • Discourage him from going for fastfood. They are low fiber foods without any nutrition value. Only empty calories. Bakery items, ice creams, chocolates etc. kill his appetite; cause stool compaction, constipation, worms and anemia.
  • Give him high fiber diet – foods prepared from whole grains, plenty of vegetables and fruits.
  • If your child has stool withholding habit, persuade him against it. Some sweet-talk may be needed to make him understand the harmful effects of the habit. Don’t expect or insist quick positive changes.
  • If the child is on potty training, he needs some time to adjust. See that he is not subjected to mental strain.
  •  See that your child has fair amount of physical activity. Couch potatoes tend to have frequent bouts of constipation.
  •  For immediate relief, you may use stool softeners and laxatives. Laxatives are more habit forming than stool softeners, so don’t use them for a long time.
  •  Colon cleansing. Colon cleansing enema with plain water is a safe way to clean the colon. Do it only under your doctor’s supervision. This is specially useful if the child has worms in stool.

Note :
Whether it is child constipation or constipation in adults, change in food habits, lifestyle and other behavioral changes are effective only when the colon is cleared of stagnated fecal matter.

Related Topics
  1. Constipation in infants - Best and safest ways to manage
  2. What are the benefits of drinking water?
  3. Importance of drinking water.
  4. How much water to drink? The right quantity for different age groups.

1 comment:

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