Center for Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Board-Certified Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition located throughout Illinois
Infrequent bowel movements are a concern to many parents. Even though everybody is different, fewer than three bowel movements a week accompanied with difficulty going is cause for concern. Call or make an appointment online today at The Center for Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition throughout Illinois.
Constipation Q & A
What is constipation?
Constipation is a condition in which your child has fewer than three bowel movements a week. Additional symptoms include:
- Stools that are hard, dry, and difficult to pass
- Abdominal pain
- Feces in underwear
- Urinary incontinence
Symptoms lasting longer than two weeks require an appointment at The Center for Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. Time makes constipation harder to overcome. The longer stool stays in the lower intestinal tract, the larger, firmer, and drier it gets, making it harder to pass.
What causes constipation?
The most common causes of constipation include:
Constipation calls for a dramatic change in your child’s diet, ensuring it contains enough fiber and fluid.
Sick children often lose their appetite and cause a diet change both of which cause constipation. Additionally, constipation is a side effect of some medications and health problems.
Children withhold stool for a variety of reasons. These include:
- Pain: from going or from diaper rash
- Potty training: issues of independence and control
- Busy: doesn't want to take a break to go
- Embarrassed or uncomfortable: away from home using a public toilet
- Cow’s milk: overeating dairy
- Family history
Changes in your child's routine and stress often affect a child’s overall health, including bowel function.
How is constipation diagnosed?
Most of the time, the doctors at The Center for Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition diagnose constipation by reviewing your child’s medical history and conducting a physical exam. However, severe cases often require additional testing including blood tests and X-rays.
How is constipation treated?
Treatment for constipation includes:
Changes in eating, diet, and nutrition
Increasing the amount of water, fruits, vegetables and fiber your child consumes helps relieve constipation.
If your child becomes constipated during potty training, it is best to stop until regular bowel movements have resumed. Additionally, it is important to encourage and reward children for using the bathroom regularly.
An enema helps clean your child’s bowels by flushing it with water or a laxative. It is a small bottle of fluid with a nozzle that’s injected into your child’s rectum to help induce a bowel movement.
Taken by mouth, laxatives help children have bowel movements. However, children should only get laxatives under a doctor’s supervision as relapses in constipation often occur if you stop giving your child laxatives too soon. Taking laxatives when not needed also causes problems.
If you are concerned with the lack of frequency in your child’s bowel movements and think he or she has constipation, call or make an appointment online today at The Center for Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in the Southern and Western Chicago suburbs.