Constipation is common in kids. Treating it in time is essential.
Constipation is the condition in which a person finds it difficult to pass stool either because of indigestion or due to excessive hardening of stool. The way constipation is treated in kids is different from the way this problem is treated in adults. If not treated in time, constipation can lead to undesirable health repercussions.
Causes of constipation in children
Willful refusal to pass stool: This is one of the major causes of constipation in children. The reasons for this avoidance range from preoccupation with other things such as play, to pain in passing stool, or, discomfort if a child needs to pass stool in a place away from home such as school and even a previous painful experience which can instil fear.
Gentle belly massages with warm oil help in soothing constipation and easing stool in babies.
Junk foods are one of the major reasons for constipation in children because they are low in fiber and high in sugars and fats
Change in diet and eating patterns such as incorporating a new food can cause constipation until the child's body gets adjusted to it.
Wrong diet or imbalanced diet: Children often eat too much sugar, or may have oily foods in excess, or very little fibre and liquids can also cause constipation.
Deficiency of vitamins, minerals and salts can also lead to the problem.
Certain medications: Constipation might also result from use of certain medications such as antacids, calcium and iron supplements, antipsychotics and antiepileptic drugs.
Lack of breast feed: Children, who are not breastfed, suffer more frequent bouts of constipation.
Symptoms of constipation in kids
There are three major symptoms that parents should recognize. Firstly, a constipated child has constant pain in the stomach or gas formation. Secondly, the child might depict behavioural changes. He or she might refuse to go to the toilet, soil underpants accidently and become moody and dull due to the discomfort. Thirdly, the child might pass bloody stool.
Some of the other symptoms of constipation are frequent bed wetting, recurring infection in the urinary tract, reduced appetite, vomiting and nausea.
Treatment for constipation in children
Here are some effective constipation treatments in kids.
- Ensure that diet is balanced and the child has sufficient dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and salts. A child suffering from constipation should not be given sweets or oily foods.
- Liquid consumption should be increased to a large extent. Water, unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices and rehydration formulas are suitable
- Fix regular bathroom timings. This helps set the biological clock in the body and regularizes bowel movement
- Laxatives are prescribed by doctors depending on the severity of problem. Parents should not administer laxatives to their children without medical advice
- Natural laxatives such as prune juice, flax seeds, flax oils, a teaspoon of raw castor oil, corn syrup and a teaspoon of psyllium husk help greatly
- Inserting liquid glycerin in the rectum of the child can help soften the texture of stool and ease passing
- Feeding ripe bananas helps in softening stool
- Baked beans, sweet potatoes, raw tomatoes and lots of green vegetables should be included in the diet
- Some of the medications which can be used with doctor's advice are milk of magnesia, mild dose of mineral oil, malt soup extract and senokot.
A disciplined life with good food and regular habits can go a long way in solving the problem of constipation.