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Constipation Treatment for kids- Toddlers and Infants

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Constipation is the difficulty in passing out stool and often there is significant straining and pain during defecation. Toddlers and infants suffering with constipation may exhibit a range of symptoms ranging from ‘tummy pain’ (recurrent abdominal pain) to foul smelling flatus (farts) due to their condition. In severe cases of constipation, the young child may suffer with hemorrhoids, often seen as fresh blood when wiping after defecation or in the diapers during a nappy change. Lets read more about Constipation in Kids.

Constipation in Kids

Constipation can be an uncomfortable and even painful condition to bear even for adults and toddlers or infants often express their discomfort in a number of unique ways. The complaint of ‘tummy pain’ is among the most common complaint as the young child does not understand that the sensation of straining when passing out stool. Often the feces (stool) is hard or may be large and compacted, causing significant injury and irritation to the anus during defecation. Most cases of constipation in toddlers and infants may be associated with digestive disturbances, low intake of dietary fiber and water or even a lack of physical activity.

The immature gut (gastrointestinal tract) is prone to irritation from new foods being introduced in the diet, as well as food intolerances that may subside with age. The discomfort caused by constipation may affect the child’s behaviour and the toddler or infant may constantly cry or be irritable due to the abdominal discomfort, gas, bloating and pain when passing out stool. In cases of hemorrhoids in toddlers and infants, the child may often be seen scratching the bum (bottom) due to an itchy anus. While dietary factors are the most common cause of constipation in toddlers and infants, intestinal parasites (worms) may also cause constipation in young children. Another less common cause is the lack of physical activity although this is rare in a toddler or infant who is usually active and curios, moving around their surroundings exploring and experiencing new stimuli.

Chronic Constipation in Children

Laxatives should never be administered to young children unless prescribed by a medical doctor or paediatrician. The effect of laxatives on the immature gut and in toddlers and infants with a lower body weight can result in severe intestinal cramping, diarrhea and dehydration which may need emergency medical treatment. Considering an enema on a child should also be avoided unless supervised by a medical doctor. The most effective way to treat constipation in toddlers and infants is by changes in the diet, taking note of foods that may constipate the child, as well as increasing water and fiber intake. It should also be monitored if the constipation tends to occur in the presence of certain care givers as children who are abused may be fearful and apprehensive which may alter body functions like normal bowel movements.

In cases where constipation in kids is noted along with unusual cravings for indigestible foods (pica), this may be an indication of a malabsorption syndrome or nutritional deficiency. Proper vitamin and mineral supplementation may assist with any deficiencies but this should only be commenced after consultation with a doctor. Simple techniques like encouraging physical activity in toddlers or gently rubbing the tummy of infants may help with bowel movements although these methods may have limited efficacy in treating constipation in toddlers and infants.

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