Is constipation affecting your infant? Here’s what you need to know

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All you need to know about Constipation

A healthy child is a source of happiness for every parent. With each trifling ailments, parents get worried. Our body when exposed to the surrounding, it affects us in a positive or negative manner. One such problem is constipation which arises due to poor feeding, inactivity or stress. Constipation is a problem faced in every age-group. But at times, it is more distressing for infants and children. Constipation in infants is one of the main complaints in the pediatric age group for which parents are visiting a doctor.

constipation

Recognize if it’s actually constipation

Constipation is a term used for infrequent passing of stool or painful passage of stool or both. We can recognize it if there is delay or difficulty in passing stool, present for 2 weeks or more. It should be sufficient enough to cause significant distress to the child.

Also, recognize if the child is having:

  •         Poor appetite
  •         Lack of energy
  •         Pain while passing stool
  •         Pain in the abdomen
  •        Occasional blood on the surface of the stool.

How does constipation develop?

If we understand the mechanism for the development of constipation, we can recognize the cause in our child to a larger extent. So it is important to know the reason behind constipation in infants. Colon, part of the large intestine in our body absorbs maximum water from the food and water we take. It acts as a reservoir of water and electrolyte. It has slow motility. In every 24-48 hours, last part of colon develop motility to evacuate the content, hence urging for stool is felt.

If nature’s call (urge to pass stool) is not attended it will further absorb water making the bowel content dry. And after 2-3 times of not attending, it will cause difficulty in passing stool. Once the pain starts with passage of stool, the child begins to withhold stools in an attempt to avoid the discomfort. And the process continues. Urging will be reduced gradually. Pain will worsen, that further worsen the stool retention.  

List of common reasons of constipation

Here are a few common reasons listed we need to look for in a child. It can be due to the sum of more than one cause. It is remediable. Don’t be apprehensive about correcting it in one go, because the tactful approach is key to every problem. Reasons are:

  • Decreased Dietary and fluid intake– Lack of fluid in a diet is a concern. And during the exclusive breastfeeding, decreased intake of water in mother is also counted.
  • Dietary changes– Especially during weaning, when you start giving baby more semi-solid food like cereals, mashed potato, banana etc.
  • Psychological factors– It is important and every parent should take care. Too early toilet training of your child can compel him/her to withhold the urge.
  • Formula milk- Sometimes can be hard to digest than breast milk.
  • Presence of fissure because of excessive straining and dry stool.  
  • Hypothyroidism is one such cause required to be corrected as soon as detected. Thyroid Hormone helps in physical and mental growth of the child.
  • Birth defects– Where large intestine does not work properly like Hirschsprung’s disease (part of the non-functioning colon), cystic fibrosis (abnormal thick mucus lining the walls of intestines) etc.

constipation in infants

What can be done to treat constipation?

Constipation is preventable and treatable. Extra care into the habits of your child is all you need to keep him/her healthy.

  • Whenever giving formula milk to the child, we need to give them some extra water. It should be frequent small quantities of water at one time.
  • Once we start weaning, concentration should not be only to feed the child with only semi-solid food. But give your child extra water, juices or fruits with high fibre.
  • For breastfed babies, mothers should take adequate amount of water & maintain the hydration level.
  • For breastfed babies or for below one year of age- gently moving the baby’s legs in a bicycle like motion to promote the motility of bowels. And in toddlers promoting the movement, by playing with them. Involving them in different activities.
  • For children with psychological cause, strict impartment of toilet training before 2-3 years of age should be restricted. It should not be too early and vigorous.
  • While massaging the infants, not to leave the anal area dry, it prevents cracks and further preventing the problem.

doctor advice

Some homoeopathic remedies for constipation

  • Bryonia alba– There is dryness of mucous membranes. Stools will be dry as if burnt. Inactivity of intestines will be seen in children. With no inclination towards passing stool. Stool will be large in quantity, hard, dark.
  • Calcarea Carbonicum– This remedy is suited to children with fair, fatty and flabby appearance. Tired on least exertion.  The child will have a sour smell of stool, sweat, and the whole body. Profusely sweating children.
  • Lycopodium- Constipation in infants with ineffectual urging. The child will have frequent urging in a day but passing little stool at one time.
  • Nux Vomica– Constipation in children given with laxatives. Frequent unsuccessful urging and passing small stool in one time. But gets relief after passing stool. Keep complaining as if not finished and more urging is there. The child will be irritable and sensitive.
  • Sulphur– The child is afraid to pass stool, because of pain while passing as stools are large and painful. Dry as if burnt, hard stools and child desist the effort of passing it.

Disclaimer

This was an effort to give you an insight into what can be the possible cause and how to recognize it. Also, general efforts you can make to things work. But remember this knowledge is for the general awareness and never try to replace it with a doctor. If you find trouble tackling it with a simple measure, visit your doctor. Especially for the causes which cannot be eased by general measures need to be investigated and treated by a professional.

Author Bio: Dr Tanya Aggarwal apart from being a full-time doctor, she loves to read, write, bake and do art & craft. She loves reading about the human psychology, graphology and believes that these things are helpful for understanding patients and helping them to heal better.

 

Dr Tanya

 

Wish you a very Healthy and Happy Parenting!