Functional constipation is when children have 2 or more of the following symptoms at least once per week for at least 1 month:
Things that may contribute to functional constipation:
Your health care provider can help make sure there is no other cause for the constipation. Your doctor will work with you to make a treatment plan.
Most children do not need special testing or to see specialists to be diagnosed.
Treating your child’s functional constipation is important. Most cases of functional constipation do not go away on their own. Treatment prevents symptoms from getting worse and helps avoid more serious complications.
Safe medications for functional constipation draw water into the colon to make poop softer.
Children almost always need to take medicine for longer than they feel constipated – meaning treatment may last for months or even years to prevent symptoms from returning.
When poop stays inside the colon for too long, it becomes hard and dry. Muscles of the colon can also become too stretched, making it harder to move poop out of the body. Liquid poop can pass around the hard poop and leak into underwear. Always having poop inside the colon can make it hard for children to recognize when they need to poop.
Functional constipation causes many problems for families and without treatment, it can lead to chronic constipation and other complications.
Take your child to a doctor if the constipation lasts more than 2 weeks OR is accompanied by any of the following:
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This research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research