Constipation is defined as abnormally delayed or difficulty in defecation (bowel opening). If your child continues to have symptoms despite changing the diet, modifying the lifestyle and increasing fluid intake (see previous article Constipation in Children – What Is It?), then your child may need treatment.
Treatment of childhood constipation
Around 97% of cases of constipations are functional which can be managed using the by modifying their diet or with medication if required as directed by your doctor. Rare causes of constipation due to structural gut abnormalities such as anal stenosis or imperforate anus, anal tear (fissure) or Hirschprung’s disease require surgical intervention by a paediatric surgeon. Neurological disease such as spinal bifida or cerebral palsy can also cause constipation.
- Faecal softeners such as DUPHALAC, LACTUL & FORLAX work by drawing fluid into the faeces making it soft to pass out. Take the medication as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.
- Suppository such as DULCOLAX works by softening impacted stool at the rectum. Take the medication as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.
Once the cycle of constipation is treated successfully, you still need to encourage your child to change the habit and lifestyle to prevent recurrence by following these principles:
- Increase fluid intake
- Increase dietary fibre and avoid fatty, sugary or starchy foods
- Avoid sweet drinks before meals
- Encourage your child to exercise (avoid being sedentary)
- Develop a regular meal schedule
- Get the child to have regular bathroom breaks
- Encourage your child not to be frighten of going to the toilet