Mostly commonly constipation (obstipation) is present when there are less than 3 defecations a week or there is regular passing of hard stools accompanied by difficult defecation and a sensation of incomplete relief. This type of defecation applies to children above the age 1 year. Often, the reason is not enough intake of water and rich in fibres food. In older children constipation may be psychologically triggered, for example a disruption of their regular daytime regime, moving into a new home, refusal to use the toilet at the daily care, kindergarten, school, etc. All these reasons may cause the so-called functional constipation (constipation that is not caused by an illness). There is also an organic constipation, which is a symptom of an illness and needs to be examined. In babies, not so much the frequency, but rather the texture of excrements and the presence of pain are more important. They may defecate from 5 times a day to 1 – 2 times a week. In breastfed babies, breast milk is very well absorbed, which sometimes may explain why defecation is lacking. In such cases, babies feel well, there is no unusual bloating or pain in the tummy and the stools are soft. In cases where the stools are hard, the tummy is bloated and the baby is crying, straining, and bringing its legs towards the stomach during defecation, it is recommended to pay closer attention. First, reduce the intake of foods that may cause constipation in babies – carrots, potatoes, spinach, bananas, pastries, etc. Then include foods that stimulate the bowel movement – plumes, pears, grapes, figs, peaches, pumpkin, broccoli, honey, rich in fibres foods. There are also foods that my help the bowel movement in some, and cause constipation in others (yoghurt, fresh milk, apples). Babies fed with formula milk may also defecate less often. The reason is that the protein in formula milk is a bit difficult to absorb. If this causes discomfort to the little one, it is recommended to change to a different formula milk. During the supplementary feeding stage, when the baby is transitioning to solid food, the defecation frequency may change. Again, exclude foods causing constipation and offer such that help the bowel movement. In babies, regular passing of stools may be encouraged through massages of the tummy and exercises.
Untreated constipation may lead to painful defecation, haemorrhoids and anal fissures. Often they are the reason behind presence of blood in the excrements. This requires a consultation with a doctor and special preparation treatment. Most often, the preparations used are based on lactulose, sorbitol, magnesium citrate. They help the regular defecation and make the stools soft and pulpy. The use of glycerine suppositories is also possible, but they are not recommended for frequent and regular use. Constipation that persists over 6 months is considered chronic. If isn’t impacted by the prescribed treatment and the change in lifestyle, and causes the patient discomfort, an examination should be performed for certain illness (cow’s milk protein allergy, hypothyroidism, mucoviscidosis, Hirschsprung disease, and many more).