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
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Restlessness
  • 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.