Constipation at best can be called a problem. In majority of the cases it will be incorrect to call it a disease. However, in rare cases, constipation could be due to some disease. This is quite common problem faced by kids and is without any serious consequences. Constipation is a condition in which the bowel movement is not regular. The bowel is hard and dry. The child feels difficulty to pass the stool as it is associated with pain and in rare cases blood is also passed with stool.
Due to this fear of pain and discomfort, child tries to avoid going to toilet resulting in further complications. The child may also withhold stool due to the stress or inadequate potty training and lack of clarification from parents about the necessity of being regular in this regard. Children who have to use public toilets have also been found to shy away from going to the toilets regularly. All these lead to further complicating the matter. When the child delays going to the toilet or tries to withhold bowel movement due to some fear, the stool stored in the intestines get dry and hard and further difficulty is faced.
Causes of constipation in children
Some of the other causes of constipation could be:
Improper diet habit. If the child is in the habit of eating low staple diet he is likely to be constipated. Children who eat fast food and rich fat food are more likely to be constipated as compared to the children who eat homemade high fibre diet.
Certain drugs do have an effect on bowel movement. If the child is consuming antacid or antidepressant pills, he is likely to be constipated.
Similarly diabetic and children who suffer from Down syndrome are also likely to be constipated.
And lastly the child may be suffering from some birth defect which obstructs normal bowel movement.
Some of the symptoms from which the parents could conclude that the child is constipated are:
- If the child is not regular in bowel movement. Less than 3 times bowel movement in a week is a sign of constipation.
- If you notice from the postures that the child is trying to with hold stool do take him or her into confidence and discuss the matter with him.
- If the child reports abdominal cramps and pain it may imply that he is constipated.
- You may notice stool on the underwear of the child. Do not always mistake it to be a loose stomach. It may be due to withholding by the child and he is unable to control at some time.
In case you observe that your child is constipated, the immediate necessity will be counselling and explaining to the child the benefits to be regular. However if you notice that the child is constipated, for say two weeks, it will be necessary to take the child to the doctor especially if constipation is associated with:
- Fever or weight loss
- Vomiting or swollen abdomen
- Blood in stool
- Crack in the skin around anus
The doctor will examine the child and can prescribe some laxative for temporary relief, thereafter you will have to monitor that he is regular in going to the toilet. The most important thing to be done, other than counselling, is to be very particular about the food habits of the child. Ensure to give the child:
- High fiber food.
- Each meal should have cereals and whole grain.
- Child should eat lots of fruits and green vegetables.
- Make green salad a part of meal to be served to the child.
- Ensure that child consumes sufficient quantity of water. Water adds mass to stool ensuring easy movement.
Above all persuade the child to go to the toilet at a fixed time daily, say in the morning, immediately after having his morning glass of milk. You will need to be strict in this regard. Once the child develops the habit, he will be regular himself and will not face the problem of constipation.