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Constipation in children

Medicine, nutrition – and a lot of patience

Aus unserer Serie »English Lesson«: Constipation can torment sufferers immensely. The constant squeezing during the rarely successful sessions also promotes the leakage of haemorrhoidal cushions and can lead to anal fissures. If you imagine this in children, it is even worse. That is why it is so important to identify and treat the problem early.
Marta Campbell
24.11.2022  13:30 Uhr
Medicine, nutrition – and a lot of patience

A normal stool frequency is between one and three times a day to once every two days, at least for children and adults. Breastfed babies empty their bowels between four and five times a day or less frequently, which is also normal. Children suffering from constipation excrete hard stools that they can only produce with pain and often with great effort (head red, child not infrequently sweaty and exhausted afterwards). The pressure and constipation lead to small, extremely painful tears at the anus. Often, not all of the stool comes out, but the children describe that they could not squeeze it all out. This can make the whole day miserable for those affected, and running around and playing are sometimes almost impossible. The first thing parents should not do is scold. It is absolutely not the child's fault that he or she is suffering.

Then parents should observe whether it is a one-time event or whether the constipation occurs again and again. Do not wait too long before going to the doctor, because constipation can become chronic after only two months. Then a vicious circle develops: children avoid going to the toilet because they know the severe pain that awaits them. This in turn promotes constipation and so on. Over time, the intestines can even dilate and the children lose the urge to go to the toilet. Sometimes, as a result, small amounts of stool repeatedly empty into the pants. This is both unpleasant and embarrassing for the affected children. Under no circumstances should parents reproach their children for this.

Back to normal

For all these reasons, the first goal must be to quickly normalise bowel movements so that children can once again experience that the “number two” no longer hurts. This builds new confidence in the function of their own body at this point, wounds can heal, the child can begin to relax.

If you have managed constipation yourself as an adult more often, you can do so on your own if the symptoms recur and do not last too long. If children suffer from constipation, however, the doctor is always called upon. Only a doctor can determine whether there is a serious illness or organic malformation behind the symptoms or, for example, a congenital allergy to cow's milk protein. Should the doctor rule this out, the German Society for Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ) describes the further procedure as follows.


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