Pediatric Constipation Treatment Questions and Answers
Looking for a treatment for your child’s constipation? Look no further than All Better Pediatrics in Memphis, TN, we provide comprehensive treatment options for constipation in children. Call us for more information or request an appointment online.
Constipation is a common pediatric condition that affects children of all ages, from newborns to adolescents. It is estimated that 1 in every 20 (5%) visits that children make to the doctor are because of constipation. While most cases of constipation last only a day or two, sometimes it can last for much longer or become a regular problem.
What is constipation?
Constipation is not a disease but may be a symptom of another medical problem or from certain medications or supplements. In most cases, constipation in children lasts a short time (a few hours to a few days) and is not dangerous. Every child is unique and some children have more bowel movements than others. Therefore, what is normal for one child may be different from what is normal for others. In addition, bowel movement patterns may change as children get older.
What causes constipation in children?
Constipation in children has many causes, including:
- Eating too many foods that are high in fat and low in fiber, such as junk foods, fast foods, and soft drinks
- Not drinking enough water and other fluids
- Having a change in diet, such as when babies change from breastmilk to formula, or when they transition from formula to solid foods
- Lack of exercise, as exercise, helps move digested food through the intestines
Emotional issues, including:
- Not wanting to use public bathrooms
- Going through toilet training
- Feeling stressed because of school, friends, or family
- Being preoccupied, like some children, when busy playing, do not pay attention to the signals that their body gives them to have a bowel movement
Underlying physical problems, including:
- Problems of the intestinal tract, rectum, or anus
- Nervous system problems, such as cerebral palsy
- Endocrine problems, such as hypothyroidism
Certain medicines, such as:
- Iron supplements
- Some antidepressants
- Narcotics such as codeine
How is pediatric constipation treated?
To help treat their constipation, your child’s doctor may recommend giving your child an enema or laxative. Most laxatives are over-the-counter medicines. They are taken orally until your child’s bowel movements have returned to normal. Once your child has better eating and bowel habits, your child’s doctor may recommend stopping the laxative. You should not give a child a laxative unless instructed to do so by a pediatrician. Your child’s doctor may recommend stopping certain medications or over-the-counter medicines, changing the dose, or switching to a different one if your child is taking an over-the-counter or prescription medicine or supplement that can cause constipation. Before stopping any medicines or making any changes, talk with your child’s doctor.
What are the symptoms of constipation?
Symptoms of constipation in children may include:
- having fewer than two bowel movements a week
- passing stools that are hard, dry, or lumpy
- having stools that are difficult/painful to pass
- telling you they feel not all stool passed
changing positions to delay having or avoid having a bowel movement, including:
- standing on tiptoes, then rocking back on their heels
- clenching their buttocks
- doing unusual, dancelike movements
- having a swollen abdomen, or bloating
- having a daytime or nighttime wetting
- having a stool in their underwear that looks like diarrhea (loose and watery)
Your child may develop a fecal impaction if they avoid or delay having a bowel movement.
What are the complications of constipation in children?
Fortunately, children who have constipation for a short time usually do not experience complications. However, avoiding or delaying a bowel movement may cause the following complications:
- long-lasting constipation
- painful bowel movements
- bladder control problems
- fecal impaction
Complications of long-lasting constipation may include:
- anal fissures
- rectal prolapse
If your child is constipated, trust the pediatricians at All Better Pediatrics. Our kind and compassionate professionals are experienced in treating children with constipation and can have your little one feeling better, sooner. Call us today to book an appointment. We look forward to serving you! We serve patients from Memphis TN, Germantown TN, Bartlett TN, Cordova TN, Collierville TN, Oakville TN, and Lenow TN.
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