Constipation in Children
Constipation is a common problem in children. It occurs when there are fewer than 3 stool episodes in a week or if the child has difficulty in passing stool. It is necessary to diagnose constipation as early as possible to prevent it from becoming a long-term problem. Bowel movement does not need to happen multiple times a day. However, it is necessary that the stool passes easily from the child’s body.
Symptoms of constipation
- Infrequent passing of stool (less than 3 times in a week)
- Difficulty in passing stool and pain accompanied with it
- Abdominal pain
- Decrease in appetite
- Presence of little blood in the stool
- Stains of stool in the underwear
Causes of constipation
- The primary cause of constipation in children is their food habit. If they are eating foods rich in fibre, their digestive system gets cleaned and the bowel movement becomes smooth.
- Drinking fewer fluids like water causes constipation. Fluids regulate the bowel movements and aids in digestion of food. 4 glasses of water is needed for an average school-going child
- Holding back the stool for reasons like smelly toilets in school where the child refrains from entering
- Few medicines like O-T-C cold medicines and anxiety also contribute to constipation
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- In rare cases, constipation can be caused due to other medical conditions
How to treat constipation?
- Including fibre-rich food in the child’s diet. Foods with fibre include vegetables, fruits, whole grains which can be found in apples, oatmeal, flax seed, brown rice, beans, and even popcorn
- Conversely, reducing fatty, sugary and processed foods from the child’s diet
- Some amount of physical activity is required as physical movement helps regulate bowel movement. Running, cycling, and dancing can be some options for kids
- Soaking in a tub of warm water for a while will help relax the muscles that hold the stool and help the child pass stool afterwards
If any of the following symptoms are seen in the child, consult a doctor at the earliest.