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Constipation In Children: Causes And Treatment


Constipation is a problem seen quite frequently in the pediatric age group. It includes having irregular bowel movements or passing dry and hard stools. Often making simple changes in the diet and increasing water intake help significantly alleviate constipation. However, there are some cases of childhood constipation that require medical treatment. This article will help to shed light on the causes, and role of homoeopathy in treating constipation, especially in children.

What causes constipation in children?

 The most common cause of constipation is the slow passage of stools through the digestive system which causes the stool to turn dry and hard. The factors that can lead to childhood constipation are-

  • Holding back stools- Some children may ignore the urge to pass stools. It may be due to reasons like, not wanting to take a break from play, or being disinclined to use public toilets when travelling, etc. Some children may even withhold stools if they had a distressing experience of passing hard and painful stools. 
  • Improper toilet training – If the parents begin toilet training at an early age their child may hold stools in order to rebel. With time this voluntary decision to hold stools may turn into an involuntary habit which becomes difficult to change.
  • Dietary changes- If the child doesn’t have adequate water, or fibre-rich vegetables and fruits in the diet this may lead to constipation. It is very common for children to have constipation when they change from a liquid diet to a diet that contains solid foods.
  • Changes in routine- Any change in the routine of the child such as stress, hot weather, travel or even first starting school away from home can affect bowel movement. 
  • Allergy to cow’s milk- Consuming too much dairy items such as cow’s milk and cheese or an allergy to cow’s milk can cause constipation.
  • Medication- Certain drugs such as antidepressants can cause constipation.
  • Family history- It is seen that children whose one or more family members have experienced constipation are more prone to develop this problem. 
  • Medical conditions- Certain medical conditions such as digestive problems, metabolic problems, or anatomic malformation may in rare cases cause constipation.

Also Read Why Homeopathic Medicines Are Beneficial For Children?

What are the signs and symptoms of constipation in children?

The various symptoms of constipation are

  • Passing stools less than three times a week.
  • Dry, lumpy, and hard stools
  • Difficulty or even pain while having bowel movements
  • Cramps or pain in the stomach
  • Distended abdomen
  • Nausea 
  • Sensation as if stools are not completely passed even after a bowel movement
  • Traces of pasty or liquid stool in the underwear of the child which is suggestive of the stool stuck up in the rectum
  • Traces of blood on the hard stool surface
  • In some cases of painful bowel movements the child fears and tries to avoid it altogether. The child may do things like clenching buttocks, crossing their legs, making faces and twisting the body in an attempt to hold stools.  

What complications can arise due to constipation?

Constipation in kids is common but fortunately, it is not a serious problem in most cases. However, chronic constipation can lead to some complications. These are: –

  • Anal fissures or breaks in the anal lining
  • Prolapse of rectum
  • Fecal impaction and collection of stool in the colon and rectum which may leak out

How can the cause of constipation be detected?

It generally includes a physical examination of the rectum to detect any abnormality or presence of impacted stool in the rectum. For more severe cases of constipation more extensive tests may be required. These are: –

  • Abdominal X-Ray
  • Anorectal manometry or motility test
  • Barium enema X-Ray
  • Biopsy of the rectum
  • Marker study or transit study
  • Blood tests such as thyroid panel

Also Read Bedwetting: Does Your Child Still Wet The Bed?

What are the various homeopathic medicines for constipation?

Homeopathy provides some of the best medicines for the treatment of constipation. It helps to quickly and gently alleviate the symptoms caused due to constipation. In addition, homeopathic constitutional medicine tones up the digestive system and avoids the occurrence of constipation in future.

Common homeopathic medicines for constipation in children are: –

Alumina– It is suitable to treat constipation in infants which has developed due to the intake of artificial baby food. There is painful urging and great straining to pass even a soft stool in such children.

Bryonia alba– It is suitable to treat constipation due to dryness of the rectum. The stools are dry, large and passed with difficulty and even pain. The child has thirst for large amounts of water. When home, they want to be out and when out, they want to be home.

Calcarea carbonica–  It is indicated when the child appears unaffected by constipation. The child is generally chubby, and chilly, sweat a lot at the back of the head and has trouble digesting milk. They are generally scared of the dark and get nightmares with high-grade fever.

Nux vomica– It is suitable to treat constipation in children who are independent, frustrated by developmental hurdles, or who have developed constipation as a result of allopathic medications such as antibiotics. or painkillers. They tend to have a frequent but ineffectual urge for stools.

Opium– It is suitable to treat cases of obstinate constipation with no desire to pass stools for days. The stools are generally hard, round and black balls. 

What are the steps to avoid constipation in children?

  1. Encourage the child to drink plenty of water 
  2. Provide a fibre-rich diet- Having a diet rich in fibre which includes vegetables, fruits, beans, bread, and whole grain cereals helps relieve constipation.  
  3. Exercise regularly.
  4. Having a toilet routine- Set aside some time regularly after meals for the child to sit on the toilet and pass stools. 
  5. Encourage the child to pay attention to nature’s call instead of delaying or ignoring the urge to pass stools.
  6. Be supportive and reward the child’s efforts and not results. Give rewards when the child tries to move their bowels. One can give games or stickers only after toilet time to encourage the child. Never punish the child if she or he has soiled their underwear.


Childhood constipation is a common problem. It refers to having less than three bowel movements in a week or having hard and dry stools. Strong family history of constipation, and faulty habits like withholding stools due to fear of pain, or avoiding breaks from play, can lead to constipation.

In addition, changes in routine and diet, certain medications such as antidepressants, as well as medical conditions involving digestive and metabolic error, or some anomaly in the digestive tract, can cause constipation.

Constipation can adversely affect the routine of the child. If not treated timely, it can also lead to various complications such as fissures, diverticulitis, fecal impaction and prolapse of the rectum. Taking plenty of water, fiber rich diet, and regular exercise also helps relieve constipation.

The parents should ensure that the child should have a fixed toilet routine, and encourage her/him to pay attention to nature’s call. The parents should reward the child’s effort and never punish the child for soiling their underwear.

However, in cases where natural remedies are not of much help, one can resort to homeopathy as a safe and effective option for the treatment of constipation.

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