Stomach pain is quite common in children with constipation as one of the usual causes and the first thing parents blame. On the other hand, there are various factors that can trigger stomach pain, thus it is vital that you are familiar with the symptoms of constipation. This will help determine if the child has constipation or if something else is the cause of the pain.
What is constipation?
Constipation is a condition characterized by having less than 2-3 bowel movements in a week or having hard or painful bowel movements, even if the child has bowel movements daily.
Among many children, constipation is caused by a diet that is low in fiber or high in fat or not drinking enough fluids. In addition, constipation can also be triggered by not getting enough exercise, a side effect of certain medications and children who hold their stools and avoid bowel movements regularly.
The symptoms are usually justly straightforward. Depending on the age of the child, the signs and symptoms can include the following:
- Having less than 2-3 bowel movements in a week
- Straining during bowel movement
- Abdominal pain, cramps and bloating that can be relieved by bowel movement
- Avoiding a bowel movement due to fear of pain it can cause which will worsen constipation
- Large bowel movements that are painful
- There is the need to have a bowel movement even though he/she just had one
- Excessive gas
- Rectal pain
- Bright, red blood on the outside of hard stools or when wiping after a bowel movement
Always bear in mind that some young children, particularly infants and toddlers appear to strain when having a bowel movement before they are potty-trained. In case they are having soft stools, they are not likely to be constipated.
It is important to note that the severe or chronic symptoms of constipation can be confusing. Children often have encopresis with the involuntary leak of small amounts of soft or watery stools in the underwear.
Encopresis is typically caused by having a large-sized, hard stool that is impacted in the rectum. This will lead to stool being passed around it and eventually leaks out of the dilated rectum while the child is unaware that it is happening. In case the parent is unaware of the constipation, they might think the leakage is the issue and complain to the doctor that the child is having diarrhea. In reality, it is actually constipation.
Other possible complications of severe constipation include rectal prolapse, hemorrhoids and even fecal impaction.
If you suspect that a child or individual is suffering from constipation, it is best to consult a doctor for proper assessment of the condition as well as start appropriate treatment options to prevent the condition from worsening.