Constipation

How does constipation have anything to do with wetting the bed?

Large blockages of stool in the rectum can press against the bladder, hence reducing its capacity for urine. Some children suffer from constipation without displaying any of the classic symptoms, so always check with your doctor to rule it out.

Constipation
WHAT IS CONSTIPATION?

Constipation is a digestive disorder in which the sufferer experiences infrequent bowel movements and/or passes hard, dry, and unusually large stools. Constipation is usually caused by a lack of fibre and is relatively easy to cure with some simple diet modifications.

SYMPTOMS OF CONSTIPATION

Constipation in children can present itself in a variety of symptoms. Some children won’t display any of these symptoms, so it’s still important to have them examined by their doctor if you suspect that they may be suffering from constipation.

  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Passing of hard and dry stools
  • Passing of unusually large stools
  • Difficulty passing stool
  • Pain while passing stool
  • Excessive and foul-smelling flatulence
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Day time and night time incontinence
  • Withholding of stools
  • Bloating and stomach discomfort
  • Irritability

If your child is not displaying the usual symptoms, you can request an abdominal x-ray, which will confirm whether or not your child is constipated.

WHAT CAUSES CONSTIPATION?

Constipation is generally caused by a lack of fibre in the diet, but it can also be caused by insufficient intake of fluids or by withholding stools (a habit some children develop).

Less common causes in children include lack of physical activity, irritable bowel syndrome, stress, or reactions to certain medications.

TREATMENT OF CONSTIPATION

Most cases of constipation can be cured with some simple modifications to the diet. Sufferers will need to increase their fibre and water intake. Some other forms of treatment are more extreme – just always follow your GP’s guidance when it comes to these.

DIET

Try to add these foods to your child’s diet:

  • Whole grains
  • Bran or barley cereals
  • Natural Greek yoghurt
  • Celery and lettuce
  • Pears, apples, plums, peaches, and grapes

These foods should be avoided until your child has established regular bowel movements:

  • Rice and pasta
  • White bread
  • Cheese
  • Foods high in sugar
  • Food and drink containing caffeine
MEDICAL INTERVENTION

Some children have such large blockages that they may require cleaning out via an enema. This is rare and will need to be diagnosed by X-ray or colonoscopy.

Laxatives shouldn’t become a ‘go to’ long-term treatment for your child’s constipation, however, they can be helpful for getting bowel movements back on track.

ONCE CONSTIPATION IS CURED, WHEN WILL THE BEDWETTING STOP?

No two children are the same – some could see instant results, while others may take up to three months to stop wetting the bed.

This is largely dependent on how serious a case of constipation they had. Some children have large blockages removed and it takes more time for their rectum to shrink back to its normal size. If it has been longer than three months and you haven’t seen a change, it may not have been constipation causing your child’s bedwetting.