As a gastrointestinal problem, constipation in children is a common occurrence. While it may be uncomfortable or painful most complications of constipation in children are not serious.
Symptoms of Constipation
There are several different symptoms or signs children will display as a result of constipation. A child may not have a bowel movement for many days or the bowel movement may be hard to pass due to the stool being dry or hard. If the stool is dry or hard there also may be bright red blood on the surface of the stool. The child may complain of abdominal pain or nausea along with a poor appetite and cranky behavior.
While most times constipation in children is not serious, chronic or regular constipation may be the sign of an underlying issue. If your child also displays a fever, weight loss, abdominal swelling, vomiting, painful cracks around the anus or the intestines coming out of the anus, you should take your child to a doctor immediately.
Causes of Constipation
There are several factors that can contribute to a child having constipation. Changes in the child’s diet or routine can cause constipation. By making sure the child has enough foods that are rich in fiber and a regular diet you can avoid constipation. Medical conditions along with certain medications or illnesses can cause constipation. The child may also have an allergy to cow’s milk, which can cause constipation when the child consumes or drinks too much of it.
Risk Factors of Constipation in Children
There are several risk factors that parents and caregivers should be aware of when trying to avoid constipation in children. Children who are sedentary or those who do not eat enough foods containing fiber or who do not drink enough water and other fluids are at risk for constipation. Also children who are on certain medications such as antacids or antidepressants are also at risk as constipation is one of the side effects of these medications. Children with ADHD are also at risk for constipation since they commonly withhold their bowel movements to avoid breaking from play or other interesting activities.
Complications of Constipation in Children
While children will find that constipation is uncomfortable, most of the time it is not a serious issue. However, if the child experiences constipation on a regular basis it may result in some complications. Some of the complications of constipation in children may include anal fissures, which are cracks in the skin around the anus. These cracks are usually painful. The child may also withhold their stool and show resistance when they are having a bowel movement. This will cause the stool to become impacted, and it will collect in the colon and in the rectum. This will cause leaking stool, which will present itself in the child’s underwear.
While constipation in children is uncomfortable, there are several things that can be done to avoid future occurrences. You can help your child avoid constipation by simple dietary changes such as drinking more water and fluids and eating vegetables and fruits rich in fiber. If constipation becomes a chronic issue consult with your child’s doctor.