• Nicola Stewart

Is Your Child Constipated

CONSTIPATION, the inability to poo is very common.


All images are from my book Gut Feeling and have been illustrated by Friederike Huber

In children, it is often the result of ‘holding on’ to poo or of not allowing enough time on the toilet to fully empty. The poo that remains inside starts to dry, becomes hard and then is painful to pass. This can lead to a cycle of fearing the pain and further holding on. Over time, residual poo can build up and stretch the colon. When it is stretched, the colon can become tired and struggle to contract to move the dried-out lumps along. Liquid poo from above can then pass through gaps and result in soiling, which is easily confused with diahhorea.


All images are from my book Gut Feeling and have been illustrated by Friederike Huber

Constipation is usually treated with laxatives.


Some bulk out the poo with extra sources of fibre (for example Fybogel/Movicol) – these take several days to work.


Some increase the water content in the poo making it softer, larger and easier for the colon to move (for example Lactulose) – these also take several days to work.


Others stimulate the muscles and nerves of the gut (for example Senokot/Dulcolax) – these should work overnight. ; Although it is not what most of us would choose to do, looking at and smelling poo is one of the best ways to assess the health of the digestive system. Keeping a log of a child’s sensations, pains and toilet times as well as the consistency of their poo is a very useful diagnostic tool for their health carers. Read my blog Why Doctors Ask Us to Look at Poo HERE.

Top Tips For Preventing Constipation:


- Increase fluid intake (6 - 8 small glasses is ideal). Fresh water is best. Avoid fizzy, sugary and caffineated drinks as these may actually be dehydrating and have other health implications. Diluted squash and fruit juices are better.
 - If a child is resistant to drinking, increase their fluid intake with foods like soup, jelly, yoghurt and fruits.
 - Get your child into the routine of sitting on the toilet. - Help them become more aware of their body by sitting quietly with eyes closed for a minute and noticing: What sensations do they feel? Are they hungry? Thirsty? Bored? Excited? Is there any discomfort? Where? Do they need a wee? Or possibly a poo?


- We use the same muscles for blowing as we do for poo'ing, so raise your child's feet on a stool and get them to blow into a kazoo! It may help and they will certainly have more fun.


Fun Fact:


. It can take up to 3 days for each meal to travel through the digestive tract.

. Ever wondered how we know if we need to poo or fart? Our nerves test the contents of our bottom and report back to our brain.

. Tell someone with a smelly fart to drink more water! It may be a sign they are becoming constipated.


. To help you poo blow a kazoo! We use the same muscles for blowing as we do for pooing. If you are concerned call 111 to seek advice and proper treatment.


#Hydration #Dehydration #Constipation #Poo

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