Constipation in Children - Who Suffers

 

Like the elderly, children are known to suffer constipation more commonly than some other groups. If your child isn’t doing
a poo at least once every two to three days, or appears to be avoiding doing one, constipation might be the reason.
They may also have tummy cramps and noticeable pain, or just seem unusually irritable.

A number of factors can be involved – including dehydration, a change in diet, medication or a minor illness like a cold.

For children, a fibre-rich diet including fruits and vegetables, wholemeal breads and wholegrain cereals can help prevent and/or alleviate constipation.

Starting school brings changes to exercise and food routines, and constipation can be common for children at this age.

Recognising constipation
Causes and Symptoms
Managing constipation

RECOGNISING CONSTIPATION

What’s normal when it comes to a bowel patterns? This can vary from child to child. Some children have several bowel movements a day, while others have one every couple of days.

If your child does not go to the toilet every day this does not mean they are constipated. However, no matter how frequently bowel movements occur, they should not hurt.

If your child is constipated they will:

• Have stools (poos) that are hard and dry;
• Have difficulty doing a poo; and
• It may hurt to do a poo.

Other indications that your child is constipated can include:

• Abdominal pain/cramps (tummy ache) and bloating
• Having a reduced appetite
• Irritability
• Small tears around the anus (anal fissures) which cause pain and can sometimes bleed
• More frequent urination because of pressure on the bladder
• Holding on behaviours, such as crossing legs or refusing to use the toilet to avoid painful poos
• Soiling underwear with runny poo, which can happen when the child had constipation for a prolonged time

CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS

Starting school brings changes to exercise and food routines, and constipation can be common for children at this age.

MANAGING CONSTIPATION

Encourage your child to sit on the toilet a couple of times a day, preferably about 20-30 minutes after breakfast and dinner. They should sit on the toilet even if they don’t feel like they need to.

A natural bowel movement should take about a minute after sitting on the toilet, and there should be no discomfort or straining involved.

Children should:

• Never ignore the urge to go to the toilet
• Not rush going to the toilet
• Try to establish a daily routine
• Follow instructions below to position themselves correctly on the toilet

Keeping track on how often your child passes a stool, and what they are like, can help with managing and preventing their constipation in the future.

The stool diary is an easy way to record useful information. Just print it out and fill it in, then take it with you to your doctor on your next visit.

To learn more about constipation in children speak to your doctor.

MOVICOL® is not approved for children under two years of age.

A doctor should be consulted immediately if blood is found in a stool, or there is sudden weight loss or vomiting, as these could be signs
of a more serious underlying condition.