Children + Constipation = Stomach Aches, Fear + Embarrassment
Three Suggestions To Help You and Your Little Ones Now
I’ve done some reading this week on children and constipation, and this is what I’ve learned:
According to Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology: “Constipation in children is an often long-lasting pediatric functional gastrointestinal disorder with a worldwide prevalence varying between 1-30%, 5 percent of children with constipation is caused by underlying disease and 95 percent of children with constipation is caused by poor diet, inactivity, dehydration, or from “holding it.” The United States estimated health-care costs for addressing constipation are US$3.9 billion per year in the USA alone.” (August 2011)
Constipation is the number one cause of belly pain in children and a common complaint in the emergency room at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, according to pediatric emergency physician Rita Westbrook. “We see three or four children on every shift with constipation,” said Westbrook. “Most parents don’t know what’s going on. All they know is their child is in terrible abdominal pain. The kids will double over and roll on the floor it hurts so bad.”
Childhood constipation has many factors and is not completely understood.
Mothers know that just one or two painful and frightening toilet experiences, caused by hard or dry fecal matter that is slow and difficult to pass, may instill a fear of the toilet and withholding stools for very young children and toddlers. That fear, which can have a lasting impact, may cause a child, whether in toilet training or school age, to refrain from bowel movements.
Some children can “hold” this for several days, causing a toxic backup and painful stomach aches.
While withholding of stools at a young age is a common cause of constipation found in children, constipation can also be caused by not enough fiber in the diet, dehydration, and certain medications, diseases and disabilities.
Normal bowel movements usually occur every day, said Corey T. Strobel, a pediatric gastroenterologist with Children’s Hospital. Other sources say that several times a week is regular enough.
In severe cases, constipation can cause encopresis, an involuntary passage of stool.”Kids will soil their underwear because they have a huge stool blockage in their rectum, and some watery leakage around it. That’s not diarrhea, that’s encopresis,” explained Strobel. “They’ve got such an enlarged rectum, it doesn’t work anymore.”
With that information, here are my three suggestions today for children’s constipation:
1. RED STAR ALERT: Milk can be the underlying culprit of constipation. Filling up on milk instead of eating food high in fiber is often the main cause of constipation in toddlers and preschoolers. Eating too many other low-fiber foods also contributes to irregularity and distress.
Although this is a conversation for another day, we were shocked to learn how milk and dairy products do NOT “do a body good.” This is touchy and controversial as most of us enjoy dairy products. I urge you to read more on your own, and, as we did many years ago, experiment with greatly reducing or eliminating milk and see what happens. For many, it’s the end to constipation and frequent colds, respiratory challenges and more.
If your child is constipated, a thorough medical history and physical examination, incl uding a rectal examination in combination with a bowel diary, is sufficient in the majority of cases to diagnose constipation. Your doctor will probably recommend dietary changes and increased water. Sometimes there may be a prescription or protocol with a stool softener, laxative or enema.
Sometimes their advice works. Sometimes it doesn’t. None of it is very fun or easy.
Sometimes normally functioning children will develop stomach aches as they reach school age. This is often because they hold their bowels all day, especially at school, to avoid embarrassment in front of the teacher or other students.
School, with all its social and environment challenges, can be a nightmare when a child needs to move his or her bowels.
If you’re reading this article, with information I compiled from several sources, you may know a child with constipation.
Here’s excellent news!
2. The tea will work every bit as well for a child as an adult! Even for babies. With newborns and small babies, start with just a very small amount, even 1/2 to 1 teaspoon a couple of times a day, and work up from there. You can put it in a syringe, like liquid medicine, or mix in a bottle. Older children will probably be happy to drink it by itself. Of course, you can always mix it in juice.
If your’re the grandparent, there are often lots of questions from your daughter/son or daughter-in-law/son-in-law wondering if it is “safe”. Please tell them that we have family doctors, pediatricians and specialists who work with struggling newborns who order the tea from us to provide it for their patients/clients with digestive and elimination problems.
In addition, I go back to when we were first private-labeling the tea and went through a great deal of work on our labels. A food safety employee from the Virginia Dept. of Agriculture (where we were living at the time) came and examined the label from top to bottom. At the time there WAS a notice about pregnant women, children and seniors being very cautious about the tea, as it was a “cathartic.”
He pointed out to me that this caution was entirely unnecessary. “It’s an herbal tea, not tobacco!” he joked. He confirmed that these herbs are absolutely safe for consumption regardless of age, unless your doctor recommends otherwise. He had me take that warning off the label.
Multiple conversations with many mothers and Dr. Miller continue to confirm to me the absolutely safety of the tea for newborns to senior citizens. As always, there’s a chance of a detox response. There’s also a very good chance they may pass a large amount of old fecal matter as they get their little systems cleaned out and operating better. This alone may aid smoother, easier elimination, “just like cleaning out a badly clogged drai n,” Dr. Miller tells us.
As with adults, it may take some time to figure the right amount for your child,
but oh, how worthwhile that time and patience will be as your child starts to move their bowels regularly, normally and easily.
With that thought, I also add that our granddaughter, Joseph’s big sister, Eliza now 4-years old, was severely constipated as a baby. The tea helped her a great deal, but so did a ….
3. Protocol from the doctor: Emily, our daughter, gave Eliza a small dose of Miralax every day without fail for a month, even when her bowels started moving. That got her bowels into the habit of moving regularly. After that month, she hasn’t had a problem since.
So there you have it! Less constipation = fewer stomach aches, time in the bathroom, and happier moms, kids and fa milies!
I hope there is something in today’s newsletter that will be of value that you can use yourself or forward on.