Also known as: chronic constipation, functional constipation, chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC)

What is constipation?

Constipation in a common problem in children and is described as a condition where the child has infrequent (less than 2-3 or less stools a week , or hard dry and small bowel movements that are difficult to pass and are painful. The condition is usually short-lived but can be long-lasting (chronic).

What causes constipation?

Constipation occurs because the stool stays in the colon (where water is absorbed) for too long a time. This can happen in babies with changes in formula feeds/diet, because children ignore the urge to have a bowel movement, or because of lack of activity, a diet low in fiber, any acute illness with fever, dehydration, certain medications or health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or other medical conditions (like poor thyroid function, etc.)

What are the symptoms of constipation?

Along with the lack of bowel movements, abdominal pain and bloating, pain when passing stools, some children will have a poor appetite or nausea/vomiting and some may have problems with passing urine (or urinary tract infections).

What are constipation care options?

In some cases, changes as simple as drinking more water, eating more fiber or getting more exercise can help with constipation. There are also a number of over-the-counter oral or rectal laxative medications that can help. In more serious instances of constipation, prescription medications or manual removal of stool (disimpaction) may be required.

This page was last updated on: February 17, 2021 11:54 AM

Pediatric Gastroenterology

The Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is dedicated to the treatment of a wide variety of gastrointestinal problems in infants, children and adolescents with a multidisciplinary approach.

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