Handling Constipation and Difficulty Eating in Children
Parents often worry when their child does not have a bowel movement in a day. Especially when you see the baby's stomach bulging as if it holds a lot of leftover food that has not been wasted. But actually every child has their own schedule for going to the toilet. What should be a concern is when there are symptoms of constipation or constipation that makes the child uncomfortable. Therefore, parents need to know how to deal with constipation in children.
Recognizing Child Constipation
Constipation is a common health problem that is very common in children. Parents need not worry too much. Children are considered constipated if they defecate less than three times a week, have difficulty defecating, or have hard, dry, and very large stools.
Treating constipation in children depends on the causes and conditions experienced by the child. Parents can prevent their child's constipation by adopting healthy eating habits and inviting them to do physical activities, including exercising, on a regular basis.
Constipation occurs when stool moves too slowly in the large intestine. The large intestine is an organ that plays a role in the disposal of food waste or defecation. The large intestine absorbs water when it is about to pass feces. Muscle movement pushes feces toward the rectum. When a child is constipated, the muscle movements in the colon are too slow and the colon absorbs too much water.
As a result, the stool becomes very hard and dry, making it difficult to move. By the time it reaches the rectum, most of the water in the large intestine has been absorbed and stool is difficult to pass. Children will feel pain when they want to pass stool and are uncomfortable with activities.
Symptoms of Constipation in Children
It must be underlined that every child has different bowel habits. A child who does not defecate even once a day is not necessarily constipated. In general, the symptoms of constipation in children include:
- Defecate less frequently than usual
- Feeling pain when defecating
- Difficult to defecate
- Stomach feels bloated
- There is blood in the stool
- There are stains of feces on the pants
- Loss of appetite
Symptoms of constipation in children may resemble other health problems. To get valid information, including how to treat constipation, visit a doctor for a consultation.
Causes of Constipation
A common cause of constipation is a diet that does not contain enough water and fiber. Both play an important role in helping the large intestine muscles move to push feces into the rectum. Children who consume more carbohydrates and protein are more likely to experience constipation.
Constipation can also occur due to the use of certain drugs by breastfeeding mothers. Usually, antidepressants or iron supplements can cause constipation. The same applies when a child switches from breast milk to formula or to solid foods.
Children tend to hold back their bowel movements when they are busy playing, away from home, or are afraid to ask permission to go to the toilet. It can also make the child constipated.
Older children can become constipated when under stress. For example, when you are about to start a new school year and meet new friends. Likewise, if there are problems at home that make them emotionally depressed.
Some children experience constipation due to irritable bowel syndrome. Triggers include foods that are fatty or too spicy. In rare cases, constipation can also be caused by a more serious illness. That's why it's important to check your child if you suspect constipation.
The right treatment if the child is constipated
How to deal with child constipation depends on the condition experienced by the child himself. The doctor will determine the appropriate treatment by considering several things:
- Child's age
- Overall health condition
- Medical history
- How severe is constipation
- What caused it
- The child's acceptance of certain medications, procedures, or therapies
Parents can also treat constipation in their own children whenever possible, including through:
- Changes in eating patterns to be healthier by increasing vegetables and fruit and drinking enough water
- Avoid fast food, snacks, and fried foods
- Eat regularly and don't skip breakfast
- Invite regular exercise
- Limit the use of gadgets
- Another important thing in dealing with constipation in children is that parents should not get carried away by emotions to force the child to the toilet to defecate. Make the atmosphere as comfortable as possible for the child so that it is easier for them to defecate without pressure. If necessary, contact the doctor to consult the child's condition.
Does Constipation affect difficult eating in children?
If you have chronic constipation, your child may feel very uncomfortable. Sometimes children also experience severe stomach cramps and vomiting. In addition, pain when you want to defecate can make the child more uncomfortable. The child may feel like having a bowel movement, but the stool won't come out. This discomfort can ultimately reduce the child's appetite.
Moreover, the still full stomach makes the child continue to feel full or bloated. Children will find it difficult to eat or if they want to eat, there will be a lot of leftovers. Appetite can go up again when the child can defecate, but then hard to eat again when constipation strikes again.
Tips for Overcoming Children Who Have Difficulty Eating
Many parents wonder if their child is eating enough healthy food. Especially if the child is picky about food or has difficulty eating. It should be noted that toddlers generally eat small portions and it is natural to refuse certain foods. The older children are more accepting of any type of food that is given.
When children have difficulty eating, parents must find out the source of the cause. There are several ways to deal with hard-to-eat children, including:
- Reduce the portion of food, maybe all this time the portion from parents is excessive
- Avoid forcing children to eat until they run out because it will make children depressed when it's time to eat
- Give praise when the child is able to finish the food to increase motivation
- Follow the child's wishes, for example when asking for water between meals
- Trying new food menu
- Ask the child what they want to eat
However, if the child has difficulty eating with symptoms of constipation, it is better for parents to go to the doctor. Especially when efforts to treat constipation in children at home do not work. The doctor will examine the child and provide appropriate treatment to restore the child's appetite.