Healthy Food Choices

Children's Constipation

Encouraging your child to make simple dietary changes — such as eating more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and drinking more water — can go a long way toward alleviating constipation. If your child’s doctor approves, it may be possible to treat a child’s constipation with laxatives.

Dr. David Israel, BSc, MD, FRCPC, discusses constipation causes.

Quiz: Do You Understand Children's Constipation?

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions:

Questions
True
False
1

Constipation in children can lead to anxiety.

Explanation:
Research has found that children with constipation had significantly more anxiety related to going to the bathroom than children who didn't experience constipation. Children who suffer from constipation can develop a fear of going to the bathroom, leading to a vicious cycle of constipation and anxiety.
2

If your child experiences constipation, you should give them laxatives.

Explanation:
Always consult with your doctor before giving your child a laxative, as they can be harmful if used incorrectly.
3

Exercise can help treat constipation symptoms.

Explanation:
Exercise helps move digested food through the intestines, lowering the time it takes food to move through. This limits the amount of water the body absorbs from the stool.
4

Whole-grain foods may increase constipation in children.

Explanation:
Whole-grain foods can help treat constipation in kids, because they're high in fiber. Look for whole-grain cereals, oatmeal, toast and muffins. Watch out for white flour in foods, as it may worsen constipation symptoms.
5

Constipation is often defined as having fewer than five bowel movements a week.

Explanation:
Constipation is often defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week.
(Answer all questions to activate)

David Israel, BSc, MD, FRCPC, discusses involuntary soiling due to constipation.

What Causes Constipation In Children?

Constipation is very common and the most common cause of it is functional.

Meaning you absorb the water too fast in the bowel and push your contents of the bowel out too slowly. The main constipation treatment is related to the diet and the belief is that most of the time constipation is caused by a diet that is insufficient in fibre.

In addition, water or fluid consumption is very critical and so is physical activity, especially for older people. If you do not move, nothing moves well as they say! In the minority of cases there is an underlying cause of constipation, so it’s important to visit your physician for an assessment if you’re suffering from chronic constipation.

If you have questions about constipation causes, contact your local physician or gastroenterologist.

Presenter: Dr. David Israel, Pediatrician, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Pediatrician

David Israel, BSc, MD, FRCPC, discusses long term constipation in children.

Children's Constipation and Involuntary Soiling

Constipation doesn’t only express itself with hard stools.

Some children will have soiling which is an overflow of loose stools around very hard stools that are banked or stored inside and those are involuntary events.

The child does not have control and does not know that he needs to go. Another problem that can arise with relation to constipation is stool withholding and pain behavior.

When children notice pain is associated with defecation, they try to do everything they can to avoid that sensation and they will hold and refrain from going to the washroom. They may seek refuge under the bed or in the corner, and these things often are not fully understood by the parents. They may think that the child is soiling on purpose or is having another problem all together.

If you have questions about constipation and involuntary soiling, contact your local physician or gastroenterologist.

Presenter: Dr. David Israel, Pediatrician, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Pediatrician

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