Constipation is a condition when

  • Passing motion becomes difficult or it’s not regular
  • Motion is hard and there is a sense of incomplete bowel emptying

Long standing constipation may lead to many serious health issues like fissure, piles, urinary tract infection, fecal impaction [ fecal matter changes to stone like consistency]. And slightly less serious issues like decreased appetite, acidity, increased gas and abdominal distension. Though this blog is about children but whatever I am talking is relevant even to adults.

How to relieve constipation

I will be discussing this under four headings

  1. Diet modification
  2. Adequate water intake
  3. Medication
  4. Proper positioning of the child while passing motion

1. Diet modification

This is the most important aspect of treatment, we have to add more fibre in the diet as fibre helps in holding water in the intestine thus leading to soft motion. These are the foods which are rich in fibre –

- Beans. All beans are good, weather baked beans, beans like kidney beans or beans in salads.

- Wholegrain and wholemeal. Skip white bread and pasta, look out for wholegrain and wholemeal on the labels.

- Brown or wholegrain rice. White rice doesn't offer as much fibre.

- Pulses. As well as beans, chickpeas and lentils are full of fibre. Try using whole dals than split ones as they give more fibre.

- Nuts. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts have more fibre than other nuts.

- Dried fruit. Like figs and dates are rich in fibre.

- Bran based cereal and other healthy cereal options.

- Porridge. Porridge is made from oats which are a great source of fibre.

- Vegetable. All green leafy vegetables [spinach, methi, soya], beans [flat and round], lady finger, green peas are rich in fibre

- Fruits. Raspberries, pears, apples, strawberries, chikku, banana are rich in fibre and these fruit should be eaten with the skin (except banana)

2. Adequate water intake

Water is important to make the motion soft. So adequate amount of water should be consumed, neither more nor less. Will discuss about it in detail in some other blog. Just to give a rough estimation children [more than 2 yrs] need around 50 to 100ml /kg body weight of water.

3. Medication

Medication has a role initially to relieve constipation and helps in setting up a routine of passing motion regularly. So discuss about it with a paediatrician.

4. Proper positioning of the child while passing motion

If child is using western toilet then please make sure that his/her legs are properly supported on a stool instead of hanging mid air. This is important as this relaxes the child and helps in complete evacuation.