Archive | Constipation

Treating Constipation in Children

Constipation is common in children primarily because there digestive system is still developing. Most of the times they are picky eaters making them opt to eat meat rather than vegetables which makes their stools hard to pass out. These factors lead them to become constipated. Symptoms of constipation in children include stomach ache, feeling of weakness, appearing moody and irritable, having difficulty of straining, and complains of having blood in the tissue paper. In younger children blood streaks can be present in the diaper.  

It is very important to manage constipation in children so that your child can be relieved from the feeling of discomfort. Also failure to manage constipation early on can lead to fecal impaction or large bulk of feces stuck inside the intestinal tract; this can be a more serious condition.

Here are some of the ways to treat constipation in children:

  • Let your child eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. If it is possible serve these foods every meal. Children may resist eating these foods; so much prodding is really needed. Inform your child that if he will not eat these foods, he will continue to be constipated. In younger children, mash vegetables and include it on their baby food. For fruits, you can place the fruits on a juicer then let the baby drink the juice.
  • Increase your child’s fluid intake. Water and fresh fruit juices should not be limited especially when your child is constipated. Avoid serving drinks that contains caffeine like most sodas because it can worsen your child’s constipation. In older children you can limit your child’s intake of milk to one glass a day since it can also lead to being constipated. For infants, see your doctor of it is okay to switch to soy based milk, cow’s milk are known to cause constipation.
  • Some children may hold their stool especially when they are busy doing things like playing. Tell your children that every time he feels the need to defecate, he should go to the comfort room right away and stop all his activities. Inform him the consequence of holding stools.
  • When your child is still constipated despite doing all these steps, then it is time to see his pediatrician to have his constipation assessed. Your child may need to use stool softeners to help relieve his condition.

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Coping with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

When a child is put under a lot of stress or is put in a situation where he feels nervous or embarrassed he can develop a condition that causes severe diarrhea called Irritable bowel syndrome. Sometimes called as “spastic colon” or “nervous stomach”, this disorder causes gas, cramps, bloating and alternating episodes of constipation and diarrhea. It is not regarded as a serious health threat but it is very uncomfortable to have the disease.

Stress, physical trauma and some infections can trigger the occurrence of irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. The specific cause of the disorder is still unknown but research shows a linkage in a child’s genes. Studies shows that children with IBS are prone to physical discomfort and pain. Triggers are often found in foods containing milk, caffeine, chocolate and spicy foods.

What are the symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome?

  • Pain and discomfort that can be relieved by bowel movement
  • Pain and discomfort in experiencing constipation as stools become hard
  • Cramps brought by excessive diarrhea

Diagnosing IBS is based on symptoms experienced for a period of three months as there is no diagnostic test for IBS. Medical history will often reveal a family member experiencing the same disorder. Most of the time physical check up to the doctor can be embarrassing as doctors often asks a lot of embarrassing questions. Make your child at ease by being with him all the time and reassuring him that the doctor normally ask this questions.

Treating irritable bowel syndrome is based on managing the disorder as there is no cure for it. Treatment is geared towards reducing the symptoms.

  • Avoid eating large meals instead practice small frequent feedings. Avoid triggers like spicy and greasy foods. Stay away from caffeine and chocolates.
  • If your child is experiencing a lot of stress and you feel this is causing the disorder it may be good to talk with your child and listen to what is going on with him. Offer help on how to ease pressure from school, friends and everyday stresses that contributes to the development of the disorder.
  • Engage your child into regular exercise. Constant physical activity promotes healthy bowel movement and is also considered as a form of relaxation or stress release. If you suspect that your child is having an emotional crisis and might be depressed take him to a psychiatrist for further evaluation.
  • Upon doctor’s physical examination the child may be prescribed with medications that can help ease out the discomfort of IBS. Laxatives may be advised for episodes of constipation and muscle relaxants for intense motility and cramps. Consult with your doctor before taking any over the counter preparations.
  • Teach your child relaxing activities such as painting, music therapy, hypnosis, meditation and breathing exercises to help cope with the stress of irritable bowel syndrome.

IBS is not a serious health condition but it can greatly affect a child’s way of life. Maintaining an open communication with your child helps in managing the disorder and coping with it making it possible for your child to still experience an active and normal lifestyle.

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How Do I Know If My Child Is Constipated?

According to the National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse and organization supported by the National Institutes of Health, constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week. The normal number of bowel movement of healthy patients varies from 3 to 7 times a week. Frequency may sometimes be 2 to 3 times per day or just once. Constipated patients usually have hard, dry and small stools. Their bowel movements can become very difficult, strenuous and painful. Constipation is almost always accompanied by stomach bloating, abdominal cramps as well as stomach pain and discomfort.

After knowing what constipation is, the next step is to determine if a child has constipation or not. Based on the Family, a website supported by the National Institutes of Health, a child may suffer from constipation if these symptoms are observed. First symptom is the number of bowel movements per week, since constipation is characterized by less than 3 bowel movements in a week, a child whose constipated should have less than 3 episodes. The second symptom is the quality of the stool. Constipated children have hard and dry stools that are unusually large or small in size. The third symptom is for the child to complain of straining and difficulty in defecating. A child who experiences constipation for more than 2 weeks has chronic constipation. Constipation like any other medical condition is caused by various reasons. A child who does not drink enough water and oral fluids is likely to suffer from constipation. A diet that has insufficient amounts of roughage and fiber can also lead to this condition. Food items such as fruits, vegetables, oats and cereals are all rich in fiber, children who avoid these items may not be getting enough fiber. For babies, most especially during feeding transition, constipation may occur. The gastrointestinal tract of children who shift from breast milk to formula feeding might need to adjust during the change similar to transitioning from milk to solid foods. Children who get sick and are treated with certain medications can also get constipation. There are some drugs that have constipation as one of its side effects. This type usually resolves on its own in a short span of time. Another possible cause for constipation in children is the child’s behavior and attitude. Sometimes children want to play rather than going to the bathroom, other children may feel embarrassed or scared when it comes to defecating.

Constipation is not healthy and should be avoided. Diet is among the most important factors to consider when managing constipated children. Introducing hi fiber foods in the diet like prune juice, bananas, whole wheat cereals and oats will help the child. Oral fluids, approximately 8 to 10 glasses per day should also be encouraged. Bowel habit training is also an effective method for constipation management. Children should be taught to go to the bathroom when they feel the urge to defecate. Toilet training should be done correctly and properly. Increasing physical activities such as brisk walking and running is also found to manage constipation.

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Ways to Minimize Pants Soiling

Children who defecate on their pants or in places other than the toilet suffer from a condition called encopresis, as defined in Kids,  a website supported by the National Institutes of Health. Children with encopresis tend to have bowel incontinence; they soil their pants and underwear almost all the time and they encounter this type of incident regardless of diet and activity being performed. Toilet training which usually starts during the toddler years, typically on the child’s 3rd or 4th year in life is not a major contributing factor for encopresis. The approximate age of children who have this condition ranges from 4 to 10 years old. The most common reason why children suffer form encopresis is because of functional constipation, a form of constipation that is not caused by any medical conditions. Functional constipation occurs when the child intentionally holds his bowel to prevent defecation. They do this to avoid pain and discomfort when passing large, hard and dry stools. In some cases, they hold their bowels because they are too preoccupied with other things like school and play. Some children just simply hates sitting in the toilet. When children do this frequently they are prone to having pant soiling accidents. Encopresis is not a behavioral issue; children do not soil their pants just to seek attention from others nor do they practice such act as a sign of misbehavior. Encopresis does not mean the child lacks self-control, which most parents and care takers consider as the major cause of the condition. Adults who think this way tend to reprimand and scold their children the wrong way which can lead to poor self-esteem and depression. Sometimes, parents even impose punishments on their children for something that is not done on purpose. Children who develop psychological conditions because of these inappropriate disciplinary actions might require counseling from a child psychologist or behavioral specialist.

There are several steps to help the child overcome encopresis as well as minimize pants soiling. The first step is to identify and determine the specific cause of the condition. These children might be too engrossed with playing or watching TV. They might be under a lot of stress because of school or household chores. Once the cause is identified, parents and care takers can gradually limit them, for example, play time and TV time should be scheduled at certain times and duration. The child is allowed to play or watch TV before or after he goes to the toilet to move his bowel. The second step is to let the child understand the importance of listening to his body’s bowel movement signals. When he feels the urge to defecate, instead of holding it in, let him sit in the toilet. The third step is providing positive reinforcements. If the child was able to move his bowel proper, provide praises or small rewards, this will also help boost his confidence. The fourth step is to dress children in easy to remove clothing like pants with elastic waist lines. Some children might difficulties opening buttons and zippers. The last step is to observe for signs of constipation and managing it as soon as it is determined. Constipation, as mentioned is the major of cause of pants soiling.

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Constipation in Infants…

Your child should generally pass stool up to 4 times a day, declining to about twice a day by the time they’re 2 years old.

However, if they haven’t had any bowel movement in a good few days, what you should do really depends on how old they are.

Call your doctor for counsel if he/she is under 2 months. If over 2 months, give him/her 2-4 oz of water two times a day, mixing it with 2-4 oz of fruit juice if the constipation persists. Prune, apple, pear, grape or cherry juice will suffice.

And if your child is over 4 months and has transitioned to eating solids, feed them food high in fibre twice a day until his/her bowel movement improves.

You could, alternatively, apply lubricant to their anus; however, do ensure this is a small amount and that the lubricant is water-based.


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Noni Juice And Children

noni fruit

Noni juice is made from the fruit of the noni tree and has been used as traditional medicine for many years in the islands of the south and central pacific. The native Polynesians were the first to use noni as part of their medicinal healing, traditional uses include use as a painkiller, anti-inflammatory, skin treatment, treatment of burns, intestinal problems, food poisoning treatment, treatment for bowel problems, and to combat bites from insects.

Today, noni juice is taken as a daily tonic by people worldwide, although most of the production is still concentrated in the Pacific.

Noni juice has been approved by the FSA, providing proof that use of noni juice is safe and non-addictive.

Children can experience the benefits of noni juice as well as adults, although they require a slightly smaller dose (there is no overdose potential, don’t worry!). As a supplement noni juice can have many health benefits for children, if you think noni has the potential to help your child you should read more about noni juice.

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Uses For Castor Oil

Castor oil has been used for many years to clear constipation (it is very effective). The usual recommended dose is one tablespoon for adults, or one teaspoon for children, to be taken orally (ie. swallowed). Castor oil has a foul taste, but you can expect your system to be cleansed within 6 hours or so.

Some less commonly know uses for castor oil include using as a massage oil, and topical applications in either castol oil packs or direct application to the skin. Some conditions that can be treated by the direct application of castor oil include itchy skin, muscle and ligament strains and sprains, warts and cysts and fungal and bacterial infections. Learn about castor oil packs and their uses.

Castor oil may also be used to help adolescent children fight acne. Although there are many chemical/antibiotic ‘cures’ available for acne, none of them are perfect, and many may have side effects. Castor oil is often overlooked as a simple treatment due to heavy advertising of expensive modern medicines.

Article derived from information found at Health Salon.

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