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Constipation in babies and children

Constipation in children

Young age and constipation

Sometimes we adults can choose to be complacent over any abnormal conditions that we happen to experience, but when it comes to children – its another story!

Constipation in children is not something new – in fact, almost 25% of the total population of children are being referred to gastroenterologists due to the complaint of chronic constipation. In constipated children, the parents often see the condition in comparison to the frequency of how often (such as how many times a week) a child passes out stools, as well as comparison of stool consistency. Hard stools that are difficult to evacuate especially in children is often the point at which parents conclude that their child is suffering from constipation.

There are a lot of causes to which constipation in children is attributed. Being at a critical age of physical, emotional, and mental development, it seems that every child's body or machinery is hyped up such that anything and everything can influence their attitudes, including their ability to defecate. Some examples that need to be noted is that children become increasingly concerned with their privacy, so when nature's call comes in even when they are at the classroom, they are hesitant to defecate since it is not the place they are most familiar with. Sometimes, they are more concerned with their play (especially among toddlers) such that they intentionally avoid going to the bathroom.

Traumatic experiences relating the bathroom may also be a primary factor. However, the more the child chooses to hold back his or her stools, the more water absorption takes place, and thus, the more difficult it becomes to pass them out. In children, there are studies supporting that fiber-rich foods do not exactly improve transit in their gastrointestinal tracts, in contrast to that of adults wherein fiber influences much the bulk in stools. Breastfed infants are shown to pass out stools in higher frequency than those who are fed from the bottle, and the period of switching between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding is also related to constipation. Aside from that, individuals (young and old alike) who are especially fond of sweets and desserts are also increasingly prone to constipation. Factors such as being febrile (feverish), spending a long time in bed (like in bed-ridden patients), eating lesser amounts of food, as well as excessive water loss (as in the cases of dehydration), can also contribute greatly to constipation in children.

Constipation in babies
It is important to rule out disorders in children that may be the culprit for chronic constipation. Among these conditions that merit special medical attention are hypothyroidism, Hirschsprung's disease, diabetes, calcium or potassium deficiencies, lead poisoning, cystic fibrosis, and abnormalities involving the nervous system. Medications, similar to that in the case of adults, can also contribute highly to constipation, especially antacids and antidepressants.

When a child fails to pass out stools less than three times a week, and when they show difficulty in passing it out, the child is suspected to have constipation. Most often these are accompanied by a vague pain in the abdomen, anorexia or loss of appetite towards food, vomiting, bedwetting or frequent urination, as well as recurrent urinary tract infections.

In cases such as this, self help is often the most practical thing to do. This involves educating the child and redirecting his or her mindset regarding the toilet. A parent may need to retrain his or her child's bowels again! Encourage the child to increase his or her intake of fluids, and make sure he or she eats a healthy and balanced meal. One can apply the logic behind the gastrocolic reflex after every meal, by letting the child sit on the toilet just right after eating. When these measures fail to work, a child is usually prescribed a laxative by a physician. Parents have to be especially sensitive to the stools of the child, whether it is mucoid or not, in order for the physician to have a faster diagnosis. Disimpaction of stools is most often done in order to eliminate or evacuate the feces stuck up in the colon. This is then followed by administration of medications for a longer period of time to prevent reaccumulation.

In to swimbi.com