Constipation is a term used to describe a situation where a person is experiencing less bowel movements, and the stools produced are abnormally hard. Beyond the actual appearance of the stools, there are signs that your child may be experiencing constipation. A bloated stomach accompanied by cramps or abdominal pain is one such indicator. Another sign is reduced hunger, as well as stool marks on a child’s underwear.
Causes of Constipation
There are a number of reasons why a child might be struggling with constipation, such as:
- Changes to diet or routine
- Certain allergies
- Side effects of medication
- Symptoms of a medical condition or illness
- Challenges related to toilet training
- Purposeful withholding
When to See a Doctor for Help
If the issue is not addressed, your child could develop further complications. Some of the possible effects of constipation include anal fissures, which are painful tears located in the anus area; rectal prolapse, which is when a part of the large intestine most often referred to as the rectum slides out of the anus; and fecal impaction, where the stool becomes completely stuck, creating a blockage.
Signs that the situation has progressed to the point of requiring medical intervention include:
- Your child is refusing to eat
- Your child is refusing to engage in normal activities
- Your child develops a fever
- You observe stool leakage and/or blood in the stool
- You observe hemorrhoids or parts of the intestine emerging from the anus
How to Prevent Constipation in Children
While a medical professional can go a long way towards helping your child recover from such an incident, it is best to try and prevent constipation in children whenever possible given the health risks involved. One way to help is by ensuring your children have access to high-fiber foods and plenty of water paired with regular physical exercise, all of which encourages healthy bowel movements.
Many children are still learning about their bodies and how they work and can be stubborn about going to the bathroom when they think doing so will interfere with their play time. That’s why it’s equally important to have conversations with your children about the importance of going to the bathroom, and to work with them to create a toilet routine that makes them feel motivated to continue exhibiting healthy behaviors.
For parents that have concerns about their child and constipation, contact your pediatrician for further guidance.
The information and content on our website should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment or advice from your doctor.