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Don't Ignore It: Signs Your Child's Constipation Requires Medical Attention | Be Well Medical

Child sitting on bed holding stomach with look of discomfort on face

All children experience occasional constipation, but when should you be concerned? Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, and it is usually accompanied by hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. Let's look at the possible causes and treatments for constipation in children.

The most common cause of constipation in children is a diet low in fiber and high in processed foods. Other possible causes include insufficient fluids, lack of physical activity, some medications, food allergies or intolerances, and emotional stress. It can also be caused by an underlying medical condition such as cystic fibrosis or diabetes.

The main symptoms of constipation in children are infrequent bowel movements, hard stools that are difficult to pass, pain during bowel movements or after the stool has been passed, and abdominal pain or bloating. Additional symptoms may include poor appetite, nausea, fatigue, irritability, and bed-wetting (in older children).

The best way to treat constipation in children is to make dietary changes such as increasing fiber intake (e.g., eating more fruits and vegetables) and decreasing processed foods (e.g., white bread and pasta). Increasing fluids (water) is also beneficial. Physical activity can also help relieve symptoms; try encouraging your child to engage in physical activities like running or playing sports several times a week if possible. If these measures do not help relieve constipation, then it may be necessary to consult a healthcare provider about medication options.

When it comes to constipation in children, prevention is the best medicine. A diet rich in fiber and low in processed foods can help prevent episodes of constipation before they start. If your child does experience symptoms of constipation, then it's essential to seek medical advice if dietary changes do not provide relief within two weeks. With the right treatments and lifestyle modifications, there's no reason why your child can't have regular bowel movements again.



Nichole Shiffler, NMD Dr. Nichole Shiffler is a naturopathic primary care physician and medical director of Be Well Medical Primary Care. Dr. Shiffler focuses her practice on women's and pediatric medicine. Dr. Shiffler also has an extensive history of treating irregular menstrual cycles, thyroid disease, menopause, acne, PCOS, and diabetes. She utilizes nutrition and herbal medicine to deliver an effective treatment plan to her patients. Dr. Shiffler is available for patient care at Be Well Medical Primary Care. Call (480) 219-9900 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shiffler.

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