Constipation in Kids

This article will discuss everything you need to know about constipation in children, including its causes, symptoms, types, and treatment options. 

If your child’s constipation persists or becomes severe, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. After Hours Kids, our pediatric clinic in Austin, Texas, is dedicated to providing expert care and support for your child’s health needs, even outside regular office hours. Contact us today!

What is Constipation?

Constipation occurs when a child has trouble passing bowel movements regularly. It can lead to discomfort and pain, making it challenging for them to go to the bathroom. When your child is constipated, their stools become hard and dry, making them difficult to pass.

What Causes Constipation in Children?

Constipation in kids can happen for various reasons. One common cause is toilet training. When children are learning to use the toilet, they might hold in their bowel movements, leading to constipation.

The child’s age also plays a role. Infants can experience constipation when transitioning to solid foods as their digestive system adjusts. Lack of fiber in their diet, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can also contribute to constipation.

Certain medical conditions like celiac disease, where the body can’t tolerate gluten, can lead to constipation in children. It’s essential to monitor your child’s diet and watch for any signs of discomfort or irregular bowel movements.

How Do I Know if My Child Is Constipated?

Recognizing the signs of constipation in kids can help you take action early to provide relief. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Infrequent Bowel Movements: If your child is having fewer bowel movements than usual, or if they haven’t had one for several days, it could be a sign of constipation. Keep track of their bowel habits to spot any changes.
  • Painful Bowel Movements: Pay attention if your child seems to be in pain or discomfort when passing stools. They might cry or show signs of distress during or after bowel movements.
  • Hard Stools: Constipated stools are often hard, dry, and difficult to pass. If your child’s bowel movement looks like small, hard pellets or is unusually large and firm, it could indicate constipation.
  • Straining: If you notice your child straining or pushing excessively during bowel movements, it might be a sign of constipation. They may also clench their buttocks or cross their legs to avoid going to the bathroom.
  • Soiled Underwear or Toilet Paper: Keep an eye out for stains or streaks of stool in your child’s underwear or on toilet paper after they’ve used the bathroom. This could suggest that they’re experiencing constipation.
  • Abdominal Pain: Constipation can cause abdominal pain or cramping in children. They might complain of a stomach ache or feel bloated and uncomfortable.

Types of Constipation in Children

Constipation in children can vary in severity and duration. Here are the different types of constipation parents should be aware of:

Functional Constipation

Functional constipation is the most common type in children. It occurs when there’s no underlying medical cause and is often related to factors like diet, hydration, and toileting habits. Encouraging regular bowel movements and increasing fiber intake can help manage functional constipation.

Chronic Constipation

Chronic constipation encompasses two main types: chronic idiopathic constipation and chronic functional constipation.

Chronic Idiopathic Constipation: Chronic constipation persists over a long period without an identifiable cause. It may involve infrequent bowel movements, difficulty passing stools, or incomplete evacuation. This type of constipation requires ongoing management and may benefit from medical intervention.

Chronic Functional Constipation: Similar to chronic idiopathic constipation, chronic functional constipation persists over time and is often related to factors like diet, hydration, and toileting habits. Long-term management strategies are required to help maintain regular bowel movements.

How is Constipation Treated in Children?

Treating constipation in children typically involves lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication. Here are some common approaches to treat constipation in children:

  • Dietary Changes: Encourage your child to eat more fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber helps soften stools and promote regular bowel movements.
  • Hydration: Ensure your child drinks plenty of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated helps keep stools soft and easier to pass.
  • Regular Toilet Habits: Establish a regular bathroom routine for your child, encouraging them to use the toilet at the same time each day, especially after meals.
  • Physical Activity: Encourage your child to stay active, as physical activity can help stimulate bowel movements.
  • Medication: In some cases, a doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription laxatives or stool softeners to help relieve constipation.

By implementing these strategies and working closely with your child’s healthcare provider, you can help alleviate constipation and promote regular bowel movements for your child’s comfort and well-being.

Seeking Help for Your Child’s Constipation

Constipation can be distressing for both children and parents, but with the right approach, it’s manageable. By promoting a healthy diet, regular toilet habits, hydration, and physical activity, you can help your child find relief from constipation. 

However, if your child’s constipation persists or becomes severe, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. After Hours Kids, our pediatric clinic in Austin, Texas, is here to support you and your child—even outside of regular office hours. 

Our experienced team can provide expert guidance and personalized treatment plans to address your child’s constipation and ensure their comfort and well-being. Contact us today to book a visit!


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