What are the complications associated with constipation in children?
Complications of constipation in children include:
- Fecal impaction (hard stool packs the intestine and rectum too tightly to push out)
- Anal fissures (small tears in the anus that cause bleeding, itching or pain)
- Rectal prolapse (the rectum sticks out of the anus)
- Encopresis (inability to control passage of stool, which leads to stool accidents)
How is constipation in children treated?
Children who are constipated can often be treated at home. Treatments include:
- Changes in diet, including drinking enough liquids and eating fruits and vegetables to get extra fiber;
- Encouraging the child to use the bathroom regularly, especially after eating, through a reward system;
- Holding off on potty training until the constipation goes away.
(Do not use enemas or laxatives to help the child pass the stool without a doctor’s approval.)
For children with complications of constipation, the following are common treatments:
- Anal fissures can be treated with creams, stool softeners and warm baths.
- Rectal prolapse may be treated by a doctor manually pushing the rectum back in place.
- Under a doctor’s direction, Miralax or a glycerin suppository may be used.
Children who are constipated should avoid eating or drinking foods with little or no fiber, such as:
- Ice cream
- Fast food
- Prepared foods
- Processed foods
- Excessive amounts of whole milk
If these treatments do not help the child, he or she should be seen by a doctor.