What are the Common ways Constipation Presents in Children?
- Urinary Frequency – A common reason why young children under 6 years old go to the bathroom a million times during the day and perhaps have an occasional bed wetting incident is constipation. Due to the sudden increase in urinary frequency, parents come to see us out of concern for diabetes, but 90% of the time the problem is poop!
- Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections. The most common reason in healthy children for urinary tract infections without fever is constipation.
- Abdominal Pain in Teens. The most common reason for abdominal pain in teen girls seen in the ER is constipation. In fact 75% of ER visits for severe abdominal pain in teen girls is not appendicitis, it’s constipation.
- Encopresis. This is when kids smear their underwater with poop. Generally, it’s not a whopping issue
How can this possibly be true?
Let’s talk anatomy!
See diagrams below of the side view of the woman and man anatomy.
– The bladder neck sits in front of the rectum, where the colon takes a downward turn towards the butt.
– If poop builds up in the colon, it pushes on the bladder neck where the valves are located and therefore closes those valves tighter. This results in more pee in the bladder needed to push the valves open because of this pressure. However, when kids pee, they quickly jump to finish and do not empty their bladders all the way. Pee is always sitting in the bladder and makes kids feel like they have to pee every 30 min. When they pee it’s only a tiny amount. And the process repeats all day. At night, kids relax, the bladder relaxes, and all that pee that has been sitting in their bladder all day, comes out and they wet the bed.
– Poop that sits in the colon all the time causes the colon to spasm, especially when eating and this causes abdominal pain. When poop sits in the colon for days, the bacteria in the colon responsible for digestion, causes gas to build up and this can lead to HORRIBLE pain.
Regular bowel habits generally = daily soft medium to larger logs
- What are the cause of Constipation?
– WHOLE MILK is constipating in some folks, so if your child is drinking 24-32 oz of whole milk a day, that may be the issue. Change to 2% milk and decrease daily milk intake to 18-24 oz a day. I am a huge proponent of whole milk, but not everyone can digest it properly.
– FIBER – see Fiber Outline Below for age specific fiber needs.