Health Tips

Coping With Constipation

boy with chin in handIt happens to all of us at some time or another. Constipation is a frustrating and painful experience — both for adults and for kids. Unpleasant as it is, there are ways to get through these episodes. Here are answers to some common questions about constipation, as well as tips for treating it.

What causes constipation?

While it is rarely caused by a major medical issue, kids become constipated for all sorts of reasons. Stressful transitions or changes in routines — such as starting a new school — can bring on constipation. Your child may become constipated if he:

What are the symptoms of constipation?

While going a day or two without a bowel movement is normal and not cause for alarm, your child may be constipated if:

How can you treat constipation?

You can usually treat constipation at home with high-fiber foods and lots of fluids. Do not use any suppositories, laxatives or enemas without first consulting your child’s doctor or nurse practitioner. Base your treatment on your child’s age.

If your child is younger than 4 months old, try:

If your child is 4 months to 1 year, try:

If your child is 1 year or older, try:

When should you call the doctor?

Most of the time, home treatment will help. If not, contact your pediatrician to develop a plan for your child. In any case, you should talk to your child’s doctor or nurse practitioner if:

Call your child’s doctor or nurse practitioner immediately if your child is in severe pain or has blood in his stool.

Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD
Date: May 2013

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