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3 Steps to Treat Constipation in Children

Most kids will experience constipation at one point or another, but occasionally. it can become a chronic--and very frustrating--medical issue for parents to deal with. Here are 3 steps to help your child overcome constipation.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,
Episode #164
potty training

One of the most difficult things as a parent is to witness your kids experiencing pain and discomfort. And while most kids are often healthy, many of them will experience constipation at one point or another. Constipation is a very common cause of pain and discomfort in kids, but for some, it can become a chronic issue, creating a great deal of frustration for both kids and parents.

The most common cause of constipation in kids is not an anatomical abnormality or organic problem, though--it’s often behavioral and/or diet-related. So let’s tackle some solutions in today’s episode.

Quick and Dirty Solutions to Children's Constipation

  1. Unclogging the colon
  2. Maintenance dietary changes
  3. Behavior modification

I'll break this down a bit. 

What is Constipation?

First of all, how can you tell if your child is even constipated? There’s great variation in bowel movement frequency, so just because your child doesn’t stool every day, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are constipated.

Plus, stool frequency decreases with age: infants often stool multiple times a day, but by the time your child is a preschooler, his stool frequency will be similar to an adult’s. About 90% of kids do have a bowel movement at least every other day, however.

What is not considered normal?

  • Painful bowel movements
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in the stool
  • Feeling of incomplete evacuation
  • Hard stools
  • Straining
  • Fecal soiling
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Problems with growth and development

What Causes Constipation?

Organic disorders causing constipation are rare, but include:

  • Hirschsprung Disease
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Thyroid disease
  • Spinal cord abnormalities
  • Malformations of the anus or rectum
  • Diabetes
  • Celiac disease
  • Lead toxicity
  • Medication side effects (antidepressants, ADHD drugs, antacids, narcotics)

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