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How to Help a Constipated Child

Posted Jan 08 2013 10:06pm
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Parents often don’t realize when their child is constipated. Generally, it’s not a subject kids are excited to bring up. But there are some signs that you can watch out for. These include complaints of stomach aches, bloating, nausea, loss of appetite, irritability, avoiding the bathroom, and bedwetting.

If you notice any of these symptoms, ask your child if they are having trouble going to the bathroom. If they say yes, don’t worry. Constipation is a manageable problem. How?

Lack of water is actually a very common cause of constipation, especially in the very young and very old. What happens is the colon, your body’s fluid regulator, knows when your body isn’t getting enough water. If it needs to, it will steal water from your waste material to give to the rest of your body. This turns your stools hard and makes them difficult to pass.

Ironically, if a child has started bedwetting due to constipation, parents will often limit their fluid intake. This will make the constipation and the bedwetting worse instead of better.

I’m guessing you already knew that fiber-rich foods help constipation. But did you know how? Fiber draws water into stools, making them softer, bulkier and easier to pass. So for this to work, you’ll need to make sure your child is drinking plenty of water. Fiber-rich foods include bran cereal, oatmeal, most types of beans, corn, peas, broccoli, avocados, whole-wheat pasta or bread, brown rice, lentils, apples, pears, raspberries, and almonds.

Junk food and sweets are known to cause constipation (which is too bad, because they’re delicious.) But even healthy foods such as bananas, cooked carrots, white rice and dairy products can also cause constipation. Avoid these foods for the time being, and never let your kids eat junk in excess.

It seems like exercise is recommended for just about every health problem, which is too bad for those of us who prefer activities such as watching TV to jogging. But you can’t argue with results. And exercise has been proven to improve digestion and speed up the metabolism. So make sure your kids are running and playing.

If they don’t want to go exercise on their own, go with them! Almost everyone can use a little extra exercise. Try teaching your kid a new sport such as basketball or soccer. It could become a lifelong and extremely healthy hobby.

Healthy diet and exercise, though well worth it, take time to be effective and often constipation needs dealt with now. Popular non-prescription laxatives include milk of magnesia (kinda gross, try mixing it with chocolate milk), mineral oil, docusate, malt soup extract, and senokot. Make sure to get the proper dosage for your child’s age and size. Also, none of these should be used chronically. A healthy diet needs to be in place to permanently stop constipation.

By using these simple strategies, your child will stop being constipated in no time. Both your child and you will feel a lot better!

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