How to Treat Constipation in Children


Bowel actions vary from child to child and although one child might only go every three days, while another twice a day, both can be seen as normal, as long as they are regular. But when bowel movement becomes irregular and the stools are dry, hard and difficult to pass, it is a sign of constipation. Causes can include lack of fibre, lack of fluids or essential fatty acids. Fibre-rich foods such as wholegrains, cereals, potatoes, vegetables and fruit are all needed to keep the bowels healthy. Essential fatty acids are found in oily fish, oils such as rape seed, and nuts like walnuts (although children under seven should not be given nuts). If stools are difficult to pass, your child may be afraid to go to the loo, prolonging the problem. Children whose parents have tried to force bowel movements in an attempt to form regularity may find that the child reacts by holding back.

What you can do

Make sure your child has a diet high in fibre and drinks plenty of fluids to keep the bowel moving and stools soft. Giving them dried fruit, such as apricots or prunes, to chew on instead of sweets should help, too. Don’t pressurize them into going or try to hurry them along.

Treatment

Hypnotherapy

Some therapists may put the child into a trance and tell them they are no longer to be constipated. Or they may be analysed to find the reason for the ‘holding in’, to find the cause of the problem, in the belief that this in itself will solve the problem. But, more popularly, a hypnotherapist may help a child, who for instance feels disgust at passing stools, to disassociate the negative feelings at going to the loo and use the feelings in a more positive way so that holding in is no longer necessary.

Naturopathy

The naturopath will check the child’s toileting history, asking questions like ‘are they worried about germs’ and ‘do they see the toilet as a nasty place to be?’ If so, it may help to make the bathroom a cheerful and relaxed place to be, with books and toys, although they should not be encouraged to sit for too long. It will also be advised that their intake of water is increased, that they get plenty of fibre from fruit and vegetables and well-cooked whole grains, but that they avoid bran which can irritate the bowel and decreases the absorp­tion of calcium, magnesium and the B vitamins. Linseeds, which have been soaked daily, will help to soothe the bowel and make the passage of the stools easier. Exercise will be encouraged. It may also help to reintroduce a potty for a young child as this gives a more natural squatting position for opening the bowels.

Acupuncture

Acupuncturists see constipation as often being caused by heat in the body. With a lack of body fluids the stools will be small and dry. They will check whether the reason for the constipation is that the constitution is weak and that therefore there is not enough Qi or energy flow for nor­mal bodily functions. Or whether the patient is strong, but eating the wrong types of food and not taking in enough fluids in between meals, so that not enough mucus is pro­duced to aid the passing of stools. Acupuncturists also believe that seasonal changes may be a factor.

Osteopathy

Osteopaths believe that constipation can be the result of a spinal and/or pelvic imbalance, so that the nerve and blood supplies to the bowel may be affected. They will work to restore these imbalances and restore bowel function. In newborn babies, a traumatic birth can lead to constipation, and cranial work has shown results within seconds!

Caution

If constipation continues, despite a good diet, or blood appears when stools are passed, consult a doctor.

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About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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