Constipation in Kids
Constipation in kids is a very common problem. Read on to find out the symptoms and what you can do to help your child.
According to kidshealth,org, "Constipation in kids is a very common problem. A child is considered constipated when he or she has fewer than three bowel movements in a week; has difficulty having a bowel movement; or when the stools are hard, dry, and unusually large. Constipation usually isn't a cause for concern — it's preventable and most cases can be remedied with healthy eating and exercise habits". It is perfectly normal for your child to experience infrequent bouts of constipation. But if it goes on every day and stretches out for 2 to 3 weeks, then you should be alarmed and bring your child to a doctor.
Why do kids get constipated?
Kids become constipated because of any of the following reasons: a low-fiber diet, over consumption of milk, insufficient liquid intake, and infrequent visits to the bathroom resulting in holding stool for long. The effort needed to defecate can be too much for most children to handle. So they usually end up not going to the bathroom. But the longer their stools stay in their body, the more toxic these waste materials become for them.
Infants that groan or strain during bowel movement may not necessarily be constipated, as it is normal for them to do this. Breastfed infants can also go for days without bowel movement as human milk is well digested in infant’s bodies. A change in diet is the first line of treatment for constipation in kids.
How can you help your constipated child?
- Change your child’s diet. Make sure that your child consumes lots of fiber, as he needs an average of 25 grams of it every day.
- Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that he eats. Beans, sweet potatoes, corn, and raw tomatoes are excellent sources of fiber. If your child is a picky eater, let him eat popcorn, which is rich in fiber.
- Avoid giving your child foods that can cause constipation such as cow’s milk, cheese, bananas, and yogurt. However, you can give your child soy milk, as it is known to prevent hard bowel movement.
- Increase your child’s fluid intake. Make sure that he drinks at least 8 glasses of liquid daily. It can be water or juice.
- Let your child exercise daily. Engage him or her in active play. Learning a new sport can also keep your child physically active.
- Check your child’s medications. If your child is taking any medication, consult your doctor about side effects and possible alternatives.
- Treat constipation the natural way. Laxatives may have adverse effects on your child’s body so only use them when prescribed by your doctor. Changing your child’s diet is still the best first step in treating constipation.
- Encourage your child to have a regular schedule for bowel movement. Help your child to set and stick to a schedule by giving constant reminders or using a rewards system.
- If your child still suffers from constipation even if he eats a well-balanced diet, drinks the right amount of fluid, exercises regularly, and diligently follows his bowel movement schedule, then you should consult your doctor. Constipation may be a symptom for an underlying illness.
In most cases, undertaking these steps will help your child feel better and will help get their bowel movement back to normal. However, it is important to always consult your doctor before giving over-the-counter medication for constipation and to alert him when your child's constipation last for over 2-3 weeks.
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