Constipation can cause your child a great deal of emotional anguish as well as physical discomfort. If they’re suffering from constipation regularly, take your child to see Ahmet Aybar, MD, at Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in Annapolis, Maryland. Dr. Aybar is a board-certified pediatrician who provides exceptional specialist services for children and young adults who have gastrointestinal conditions and common digestive problems like constipation. Call Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.
Constipation Q & A
What is constipation?
Constipation is a common condition in children and adults that results in a reduced number of bowel movements and dry hard stools that are difficult to expel.
In most cases, constipation is due to a problem in the diet that is easily cured by making sure your child:
- Drinks plenty of water
- Eats more fruits and vegetables
- Eats more whole grains
- Gets plenty of exercise
Eating enough dietary fiber is essential to keep your bowels functioning correctly. If food isn’t moving through your digestive system at a healthy rate, your bowels get sluggish and start to slow down, and the stools dry out. A sluggish bowel is also a consequence of insufficient physical activity.
What else can cause constipation?
Although most cases of constipation are diet-related, there are other reasons why your child might develop constipation.
Withholding is a common problem in children, where a child resists the urge to have a bowel movement because they’re busy playing, or they aren’t near a toilet they feel comfortable using.
Holding stools in can make them dry up and get hard, so when your child does go, it’s difficult and uncomfortable. Your child may also try and withhold if they’ve had constipation before and know it’s going to hurt to pass a hard, dry stool.
In some cases, early toilet training can contribute toward constipation because your child might start to ignore the feeling of needing the toilet until it becomes a habit to withhold.
Other potential causes of constipation include:
- Change in routine
- Hot weather
- Cow’s milk allergy
- Family history
Although rare, constipation can occasionally be due to a digestive tract disease or malfunction, a metabolic problem, or an anatomic abnormality.
How is constipation treated?
For mild, infrequent cases of constipation, you can use home remedies to treat your child. Give them plenty of water to drink, and a natural laxative like prunes.
Over-the-counter- laxatives should only be used after consulting with Dr. Aybar at Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, and he advises it. Making changes to your child’s diet should prevent any recurrence of the problem.
If your child’s constipation lasts more than a few days or is happening frequently, you should take them to Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition for a checkup. You should also take them to see Dr. Aybar if they have other symptoms such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Bloody stools
- Swollen abdomen
- Weight loss
Sometimes the stool becomes so hard it turns into an impaction, blocking the anal canal and being almost impossible to pass naturally.
If your child has a fecal impaction, you’ll see dribbles of liquid stool in the toilet or their underwear, as it leaks around the sides of the impaction. You should always consult Dr. Aybar if your child has a fecal impaction.
The treatments Dr. Aybar recommends for your child’s constipation depend on the cause and the severity of the problem.
Stool softeners can help, as well as glycerin suppositories that soften up the hardened stool, and laxatives. If there’s an impaction, Dr. Aybar might need to carry out an enema.
If you’re worried about your child’s constipation, call Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition or book an appointment online today.