Constipation is a common problem in childhood present in kids of all ages as well as adults. In fact nearly all children or young adults experience constipation at some point, though some experience it more frequently and have more symptoms and complications. At our office, we address the clinical symptoms and discomfort associated with constipation, along with thorough evaluation of medical and behavioral causes. Although constipation can cause multiple gastrointestinal complaints, it is often not given the same attention and importance as other medical problems. We work closely with our patients and families to establish individualized treatment protocol to address constipation and often associated with encopresis and fecal soiling.
Did you know…
that the frequency of a child’s normal bowel movements change as they grow? For example, most babies and children under age 4 will have a bowel movement every day or at least every other day. As they grow older, children and adolescents may begin to go less frequently, often three to five times per week. Constipation in older children is typically recognized as fewer than two to three bowel movements per week.
Constipation is typically identified by infrequent bowel movements or by bowel movements that are painful to pass. A child who is constipated may become irritable, uncomfortable and complain of abdominal pain. It is important for parents to know a child’s normal bowel habits to more easily detect changes in frequency when they occur.
Most constipation in pediatric patients is functional in nature although diet low in fiber can be a significant factor as well. Children and adolescents frequently experience constipation if they repeatedly ignore the urge to use the restroom or if they take certain medications that are known to cause constipation. Infants who are constipated or show strain when passing a bowel movement may simply have immature rectal muscles, a condition that typically improves on its own over time. Although there are congenital diseases that can lead to constipation and require early evaluation and intervention. Thyroid disease, celiac disease or muscular skeletal diseases can also lead to constipation.
Treatment for pediatric constipation will vary depending on the cause of the symptoms. Many children respond well to dietary interventions, while others require prescription medications or OTC agents to find relief. A pediatric GI specialist may recommend specialized tests for children who experience chronic constipation and who do not find relief from more conservative treatment measures.