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Division of Urology

Pediatric Urology Conditions

Constipation

What is constipation and how do I know if my child is constipated?

Constipation occurs when stools move too slowly through the colon and fluid is absorbed by the body. This makes stool hard. In some cases, constipation is obvious, as in situations where the child is passing hard, dry, pellet-like stools with straining or only has a bowel movement every few days. Other signs of constipation include:

Any of these symptoms suggest the presence of constipation or excess stool in the colon and rectum.

What causes constipation?

Causes of constipation include:

Why are we treating constipation in the Division of Urology?

Children with daytime wetting often have problems with their bowels in the form of constipation or encopresis (fecal soiling). There is a close relationship between the muscles and nerves that control bladder functions and those that control bowel movements. Children with constipation may tighten the pelvic floor muscles and hold back when they urinate, and not completely empty their bladders. Stool in the lower colon and rectum can put pressure on the bladder, resulting in urgency and more frequent bladder contractions. Many children with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) often have underlying constipation.

How is constipation treated?

It is important to treat your child’s constipation to ultimately improve your child’s bladder symptoms. Recommendations for managing constipation may include:

Reviewed by: Division of Urology
Date: March 2011

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