Constipation is a very common problem among toddlers and children. It takes place when the child's stool is dry, hard and unusually large, and the frequency of bowel movement is low and inconsistent. Although it is not a serious cause for concern, constipation in children should be recognised and treated early so that it does not develop into a chronic long-term ailment.
Constipation in children is seldom directly caused by any disease or medical disorder, which is known as idiopathic constipation and may be cause by a number of factors:
1. Diet: This is the primary cause of constipation in children. If the child's diet has low water and fibre content and heavily features sugar and processed foods, stool becomes hard and bowel movement gets restricted.
2. Deliberate Withholding: Often children may consciously avoid visiting the toilet, which may make them feel constipated. This may be due to embarrassment, especially in public spaces or they might be too engaged in playing to not go to the toilet, altogether. Some children do it out of fear when a previous toilet experience has been particularly painful.
3. Lack of Physical Activity: The digestive system is boosted through regular exercise. Lack of physical activity, thus, inhibits regular bowel movement.
4. Illness and Medication: Infections and illnesses, especially ones pertaining to the stomach cause the child to become constipated. Many medicines and supplements also affect the digestive system and can lead to constipation.
What are the ways to manage constipation in children?
Constipation in children is treated differently than in adults as their diets and patterns of bowel movement are dissimilar.
The primary treatments for constipation in children are:
1. Stool Softeners and Laxatives
The administration of bowel movement enhancing medication is the simplest way of treating constipation in children. There are various kinds of stool softeners and laxatives that are safe for children and must always be used under the supervision of a paediatrician.
2. Dietary Adjustment
Making changes to the child's diet by including high fibre foods (such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals, etc.) can help cure constipation. Compelling the child to intake ample fluids in the form of water or milk is also necessary. Sugary drinks must be avoided. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Pediatrician.