What causes constipation in teenagers

Constipation in children and babies: causes, tips, home remedies

Constipation in babies and children is not uncommon.We will tell you what the causes may be and which home remedies relieve the symptoms.

Older people in particular suffer from a sluggish bowel, but children - and even babies - can also get constipated. It is estimated that around 30 percent of little ones have problems with bowel movements.

In itself, irregular bowel movements in children, especially babies and toddlers, are not uncommon and not a cause for concern at first. After all, the intestinal flora only builds up in the course of the first few years of life. And even with older children, not every child who rarely has bowel movements will suffer from constipation straight away. Anything between three times a day and three times a week is normal.

Constipation, medically called constipation, is only used when there is no bowel movement for three or more days. However, the condition of the child is more important than the frequency of defecation. A stomach ache, painful bowel movements, and hard stools are clear signs of constipation. The digestive problems can usually be relieved with a few home remedies.

Possible causes of constipation in children

What causes constipation in children can have a variety of causes, including: depending on age. In most cases, it is due to dietary or psychological factors. In babies and toddlers, for example, it can be as part of a Change in diet or the Toilet training become constipated.

In older children, the cause is often the so-calledHabitual constipation. It arises, for example, from a low-fiber diet, too little drinking and a lack of exercise. In addition, various external circumstancessuch as a trip, the start of daycare, the separation of parents, or problems at school cause constipation.

Organic causesare on the other hand rather rare. In children who suffer from severe chronic constipation (defecation only every five to seven days), there is a possibility that a congenital malformation of the large intestine - called Hirschsprung's disease - is behind it. This then has no nerve cells in a certain section that can stimulate the muscles to contract and thus to transport the intestinal contents. The result: the intestinal contents get stuck and the section of intestine in front of this obstacle expands.

Constipation can also be a symptom of oneHypothyroidism, lactose intolerance, or appendicitis occur or the result of a Intestinal obstruction be.

Causes in babies:

  • Milk formula: There is hardly any constipation in a breastfed baby, as breast milk has a composition that is optimal for the infant's digestion. The stool is usually soft and fluid. On the other hand, constipation occurs more frequently in babies who are given formula because it is more difficult to digest. Test whether your child can tolerate infant formula from other manufacturers better.
  • Lactose intolerance: Lactose intolerance can manifest itself not only through diarrhea, but also through constipation. In most cases it is a temporary intolerance that will subside after the first year at the latest. In this case, use lactose-free baby food temporarily. If the symptoms do not improve, you should see a pediatrician to rule out lactose intolerance. Attention: Babies with a congenital intolerance cannot tolerate breast milk either.
  • Calcareous water: The digestive disorders can also be triggered if the baby food has been mixed with water that is too hard. The lime in the water can combine with fatty acids from milk in the intestine and thicken. The resulting so-called lime soap chair is very dry, firm and crumbly.
  • Switching to complementary foods: With the introduction of porridge, it is normal for the frequency of bowel movements and the consistency of the stool to change. The intestine adapts slowly to solid food. However, if the bowel movement occurs only every few days, the stool is very hard and your child has pain when defecating, it is probably constipation. Then it is possible that your child drinks too little or does not tolerate certain ingredients of the food.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can also lead to constipation, which manifests itself in hard, dry stools. Above all, make sure that your child drinks enough after switching to complementary foods, as well as if they are teething or have an infection.
  • Constipating foods: Foods that "constipate" such as bananas, carrots and potatoes can also affect digestion.

Causes in small children (from 2 years):

  • Getting dry: Some toddlers respond to toilet training with constipation. If the little ones are suddenly to do without the diaper, this can trigger stress and nervousness and lead to the suppression of bowel movements. Parents shouldn't apply pressure and should give the child enough time and rest to dry out.
  • External circumstances: A trip, a move, the first few days in kindergarten or the birth of a sibling can upset the digestion of small children and cause constipation for a short time.

Causes in children (from 4 years):

  • Nutrition: Too little fiber in the diet is a common cause of constipation in children. Fiber increases the volume of the stool and makes the stool softer, which makes it easier to defecate. Children should consume between 10 and 20 grams of fiber per day.
  • Dehydration: Many children forget to drink while playing and romping for hours on end. A lack of fluids can cause constipation. If you have a fever or high temperatures in summer, your body also needs more fluid.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Too little exercise makes the bowel sluggish.
  • Mental problems: The intestine is a sensitive organ. Even in children, stress, fear or pressure to perform can affect gastrointestinal activity. Unfamiliar surroundings, unsanitary school toilets or family problems can also have a negative impact on bowel movements.
  • Antibiotics: Constipation in children can be caused by taking antibiotics. The drug gets the intestinal flora out of sync. But other drugs can also be behind it. If your child needs regular medication and is constipated, you should speak to your pediatrician and change medication if necessary.
  • Tears in the anal mucosa: Inflammation in the anal area can be not only a symptom but also a cause of constipation. If your child is in pain, they may be holding back the urge to defecate. Holding back the chair hardens it even more. This creates a real vicious circle and there is a risk that constipation will become chronic.

Symptoms: signs of constipation in babies and children

When the baby is born, the gastrointestinal tract is anatomically fully developed. The intestinal flora, on the other hand, only builds up in the course of the first few years of life. It is therefore quite normal for an infant to have an empty diaper for several days. Even more than ten days without a bowel movement are initially no cause for concern - especially if the child is being breastfed. One speaks here of a so-called Mock constipation (Pseudo-obstipation), which is explained by the low food intake in the first two weeks and the complete utilization of breast milk. However, if a baby continues to cry and / or does not gain enough weight, it can be due to constipation.

Even with older children, the frequency of bowel movements is not the measure of all things. Not every child who rarely has the urge to defecate will suffer from constipation straight away. Hard, dry stools, abdominal pain, and painful bowel movements are the most common signs of constipation.

What many parents do not initially associate with constipation: Some little patients also wet themselves at nightbecause your bladder does not expand much and can absorb little fluid due to the large volume of stool. Affected children seem to have frequent bowel movements, meaning they can go to the bathroom every or other day. However, the intestines can be overflowing.

With a preschool or elementary school child,Traces of feces in underwear indicate chronic constipation. Boys are particularly affected. The medically referred to as encopresis "fouling" or "stool smear" usually occurs in four-year-olds who were constipated in their first two years of life. In the affected children, large amounts of feces collect in the rectum, where it begins to ferment and liquefy. Usually unnoticed by the child, the diarrhea-like chair then runs past the obstacle into the pants - which is understandably very embarrassing for the children. In addition, the hard stool makes the children experience stomach pains, hardly any physical activity and little food. If you manage to get rid of a large amount of stool with pain at some point, you will only feel temporarily better.

Symptoms in babies:

  • hard, dry stool
  • strong smelling flatulence
  • stomach pain
  • hard, bloated stomach
  • Tears or inflammation of the anal mucosa
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Crying, screaming, feeling unwell
  • Loss of appetite

Symptoms in young children (from 2 years):

  • hard, dry stool
  • infrequent bowel movements (more than three days without a bowel movement)
  • stomach pain
  • Tears or inflammation of the anal mucosa
  • Painful bowel movements
  • general malaise
  • Loss of appetite

Symptoms in children (from 4 years):

  • hard, dry stools
  • infrequent bowel movements (more than three days without a bowel movement)
  • Traces of feces in underwear (stool smear)
  • stomach pain
  • Tears or inflammation of the anal mucosa
  • Painful bowel movements
  • depressive mood, listlessness
  • Bedwetting

Solve constipation in children: these home remedies will help

With temporary constipation in children, it is not necessary to consult a doctor directly. The symptoms can usually be alleviated with a few measures:

  • Drink:Getting enough fluids is especially important to stimulate digestion. A glass of plum juice can speed up the process even more.
  • Nutrition:In general, a high-fiber diet is a good way to treat constipation in children. For example, give your child some yogurt and pureed fruit with a teaspoon of wheat bran or flaxseed. Pears and apples are especially good for digestive problems.
  • Germ oil:A few drops of germ oil in the baby food can help make bowel movements easier.
  • Milk sugar:From the sixth month onwards, you can treat constipation in children with lactulose. The milk sugar promotes the intestinal flora and stimulates digestion. To do this, mix a teaspoon of powder with tea or a bottle meal and give the drink once a day. If it does not work, you can double the dose. If your child reacts with diarrhea, gas or abdominal pain, reduce the dose.
  • Abdominal massage: Sluggish digestion can be stimulated with an abdominal massage. In doing so, you stroke your child's stomach with gentle circular movements in a clockwise direction so that bowel activity is stimulated.
  • Relaxation:Create a calm and pleasant atmosphere when using the toilet.
  • Move:Movement gets the bowels going. Even cycling in the air can relieve constipation in children. If your child is too small to move, lay them on their back and move their legs by hand. Bigger children should be encouraged to run around.
  • Warmth: A hot water bottle relaxes the stomach. The warmth promotes blood circulation and stimulates bowel activity.
  • Dairy products: Dairy products such as yogurt, kefir or buttermilk have a positive effect on the intestinal flora. The lactic acid bacteria contained in it promote the mobility of the intestine.

More on the subject:Home remedies for constipation

Treatment: when to see a doctor?

If children suffer from constipation, the home remedies mentioned are always the first choice. In the case of chronic constipation, however, the measures are often not enough.

To relieve the discomfort, parents can also go to so-calledMini enema grab, which are to be used like a suppository. They act like an enema, soften the stool in the rectum and thus promote excretion. Have a similar effectSuppositories Glycerine-based or caraway suppositories, which are available from pharmacies without a prescription.

If the symptoms do not improve after a maximum of two weeks, you should consult a pediatrician to be on the safe side. For more severe courses, stool regulating medication and possibly also gentle ones are recommendedlaxative, such as lactulose or macrogol, are necessary. However, these measures must always be discussed with the doctor.

If there is an overstretched, full bowel, laxatives can also eliminate the problem of bed-wetting. A bed-wetting child should always be examined by the pediatrician so that he can rule out and treat various organic causes, such as cystitis.

Parents should also see a doctor with their offspring if they do it regularly Footprints in the underwear Find. This is important to end the acute symptoms and rule out other causes. It can also be used to prevent the child from withdrawing and having psychological problems.

If other symptoms occur, such as cramps, a feeling of fullness, a bloated stomach, inflammation in the anal region, mucus or blood leakage, fatigue or vomiting, you should definitely consult a pediatrician as soon as possible. Because behind the complaints, for example, there can also be aHypothyroidism, lactose intolerance, appendicitis or even an intestinal obstruction stuck.

In the case of chronic constipation, sufferers can turn to a gastroenterologist who specializes in childhood gastrointestinal diseases to resolve an inherited bowel disease such asHirschsprung's disease to exclude. Other signs of this disease include gas, poor appetite, vomiting green bile, and occasionally tough, foul-smelling, pen-shaped stool, so-called pencil stool. In this case, surgery to remove the affected section of the intestine can help.

Preventing constipation: nutrition tips and other measures

Diet is the number one cause of constipation in children. Mostly there is a lack of dietary fiber, i.e. indigestible plant fibers that make the stool softer and stimulate the intestinal activity. Changing your diet and eating habits is therefore the best way to prevent constipation.

The table gives you an overview of the foods your child should prefer to eat and the foods that are rather unfavorable for digestion and should only rarely be on the table:

Cheap foodUnfavorable foods
Whole grain products (whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta)White flour products (white bread, toast bread, rusks)
Oatmeal, wheat branCake, croissant
Potatoes, brown ricewhite rice
legumesChocolate, candy
Yogurt, kefir, buttermilkmilk
Fruit (apples, pears, melons, plums, apricots)Bananas
Vegetables (cabbage, peas, broccoli)pudding

If you also observe the following tips, you can prevent constipation in the long term:

  1. Swap the croissant or bread roll for breakfast for whole grain bread or muesli. Several servings of fruit and vegetables per day should also be on the menu. Brown rice, potatoes or whole wheat pasta are recommended as side dishes.
  2. Make sure you increase the amount of fiber slowly, otherwise there is a risk of bloating, gas and a flat stomach.
  3. Make sure your child is drinking enough to prevent dehydration. Sufficient fluids are especially important in connection with fiber so that they can swell. Otherwise, the constipation may get worse. A glass of juice in the morning can support bowel movements.
  4. Avoid constipating foods, fast foods, and sweets, especially bananas, carrots, chocolate, and cocoa.
  5. The daily consumption of dairy products such as yogurt, kefir or buttermilk has a positive effect on the intestinal flora and promotes the mobility of the intestines.
  6. A lot of exercise also promotes digestion. Make sure there are enough opportunities to run around, play and run.
  7. Do not put pressure on your child while toilet training. Instead, provide distraction and relaxation with songs, stories or your favorite cuddly toy.
  8. Ensure peace and quiet and a pleasant atmosphere when using the toilet. Give your child enough time to do their "business".
  9. Make sure that your child is sitting correctly on the toilet, namely so that the anal canal is not kinked. Your child may need a stool to put their feet on.

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