Constipation is when a child has very hard stools, and has fewer bowel movements than he or she normally does. It is a very common GI (gastrointestinal) problem. (source)
Constipation most commonly occurs when waste or stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract, causing the stool to become hard and dry.
Many factors can contribute to constipation in children, including:
Your child may ignore the urge to have a bowel movement because he or she is afraid of the toilet or doesn’t want to take a break from play. Some children withhold when they’re away from home because they’re uncomfortable using public toilets.
Painful bowel movements caused by large, hard stools also may lead to withholding. If it hurts to poop, your child may try to avoid a repeat of the distressing experience.
Toilet training issues. If you begin toilet training too soon, your child may rebel and hold in stool. If toilet training becomes a battle of wills, a voluntary decision to ignore the urge to poop can quickly become an involuntary habit that’s tough to change.
Changes in diet. Not enough fiber-rich fruits and vegetables or fluid in your child’s diet may cause constipation. One of the more common times for children to become constipated is when they’re switching from an all-liquid diet to one that includes solid foods.
Changes in routine. Any changes in your child’s routine — such as travel, hot weather or stress — can affect bowel function. Children are also more likely to experience constipation when they first start school outside of the home.
Certain antidepressants and various other drugs can contribute to constipation.
Cow’s milk allergy. An allergy to cow’s milk or consuming too many dairy products (cheese and cow’s milk) sometimes leads to constipation.
Family history. Children who have family members who have experienced constipation are more likely to develop constipation. This may be due to shared genetic or environmental factors.
Medical conditions. Rarely, constipation in children indicates an anatomic malformation, a metabolic or digestive system problem, or another underlying condition.
Constipation in children is more likely to affect kids who:
Don’t eat enough fiber
Don’t drink enough fluids
Take certain medications, including some antidepressants
Have a medical condition affecting the anus or rectum
Have a neurological disorder (source)
Depending on the circumstances, your child’s doctor may recommend: Over-the-counter fiber supplements or stool softeners. If your child doesn’t get a lot of fiber in his or her diet, adding an over-the-counter fiber supplement, such as Metamucil or Citrucel, might help. However, your child needs to drink at least 32 ounces (about 1 liter) of water daily for these products to work well. Check with your child’s doctor to find out the right dose for your child’s age and weight.
Glycerin suppositories can be used to soften the stool in children who can’t swallow pills. Talk with your child’s doctor about the right way to use these products.
A laxative or enema. If an accumulation of fecal material creates a blockage, your child’s doctor may suggest a laxative or enema to help remove the blockage. Never give your child a laxative or enema without the doctor’s OK and instructions on the proper dose.
Hospital enema. Sometimes a child may be so severely constipated that he or she needs to be hospitalized for a short time to be given a stronger enema that will clear the bowel (disimpaction). (source)
HOW CHIROPRACTIC CAN HELP
Chiropractic care relieves pressure on nerves. These nerves carry signals and information from the brain throughout the body. Those signals keep things running smoothly and ensure that all organs and functions operate as they should. When the signal becomes blocked, problems can arise, including digestive issues and constipation.
Through careful and targeted adjustments, chiropractors are able to restore normal spinal functions and open up the pathways for proper nervous system function. This allows the brain’s messages to get through to the stomach and intestines again and for normal bodily functions to be restored.
In the case of newborns, chiropractors are very careful. Children and babies do not require the same type of chiropractic adjustments as adults. If you are envisioning your child undergoing a strong spinal manipulation, think again. Newborn chiropractic care consists of very gentle and subtle movements that resemble stretching and massage more than abrupt adjustment or shifting. (source)
Dr. Isaac Mooberry, DC is a Denver chiropractor who helps to restore balance to the nervous system to help both children and adults that have constipation improve their ability to function in a normal manner.