Constipation is difficult to define in terms of its severity because not everyone has a bowel movement every day. The frequency and consistency of stool depends and changes from one person to another at different stages of his or her life. According to medical standards, a normal stool is one that is soft, formed and does not demand strain or urgency to be passed out. If you have ever observed a sudden change in the normal pattern of stool discharge, report it to a doctor. Often times, constipation can lead to stress.
Constipation occurs very commonly in children. It affects at least 10% of the children. Despite of the high percentage of constipated children, only 3% of parents report the condition to the doctor. Definition of constipation depends on how often the child passes stools and the usual consistency of the stools.
You must take your child to a doctor as soon as you discover that he or she has been having a hard time passing stools (passes once in three days) or has hard stools. Here are some of the symptoms of chronic constipation in children.
- Children with constipation demonstrate a characteristic behaviour while trying to stop having a bowel movement.
- Infants will, for instance, stretch their and squeeze the anal as well as buttock muscles to prevent passing of stool.
- Toddlers will rise up on their toe, rock back and forth and hold their legs as well as buttocks firmly.
- Some medication may make the child more constipated. Some of the common contributors include over-the-counter antacids and cold medications. Other medicines include antidepressants, chemotherapy medication, anticonvulsants, narcotic pain medication etc.
- Other signs that indicate acute constipation in children include
- Decreased appetite, vomiting or nausea.
- Vaginal abdominal pain around the belly button or frequent attacks of abdominal pain.
- Frequent urination, bedwetting and urinary incontinence.
- Reappearing urinary tract infections.
Self-care at home
Few steps that you can take while you are at home to avoid constipation from becoming severe include:
Let your children know that there is nothing wrong about being constipated. Reinforce positive thinking in your child.
Teach your child about the gastrocolonic reflex, which is the body’s natural reflex experienced after a meal when the colon undergoes peristalsis and tries to get the bowels out. Have the child sit on the toilet seat for at least ten minutes. It is found to be easier for a child to pass stool when he or she is sitting with the feet on the floor or on a footstool.
Feed your child with plenty of fluids such as juices, especially apple juice.
Provide a well-balanced diet, which includes bran cereals, vegetables and fruits.
Read more articles on Constipation and Impaction.
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