Depending on the circumstances, your child's doctor may recommend:
Aug. 23, 2013
Over-the-counter fiber supplements or stool softeners. If your child doesn't get a lot of fiber in his or her diet, adding an over-the-counter fiber supplement, such as Metamucil or Citrucel, might help. However, your child needs to drink at least 32 ounces (about 1 liter) of water daily for these products to work well. Check with your child's doctor to find out the right dose for your child's age and weight.
Glycerin suppositories can be used to soften the stool in children who can't swallow pills. Talk with your child's doctor about the right way to use these products.
A laxative or enema. If an accumulation of fecal material creates a blockage, your child's doctor may suggest a laxative or enema to help remove the blockage. Examples include polyethylene glycol (Glycolax, MiraLax, others) and mineral oil.
Never give your child a laxative or enema without the doctor's OK and instructions on the proper dose.
- Hospital enema. Sometimes a child may be so severely constipated that he or she needs to be hospitalized for a short time to be given a stronger enema that will clear the bowels. This is called disimpaction.
- Tabbers MM, et al. Nonpharmacologic treatments for childhood constipation: Systematic review. Pediatrics. 2011;128:753.
- Constipation in children. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipationchild/. Accessed June 12, 2013.
- Ferry GD. Constipation in children: Etiology and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 12, 2013.
- Hay WW, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 21st ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=14. Accessed June 12, 2013.
- Constipation in children. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/approach_to_the_care_of_normal_infants_and_children/constipation_in_children.html. Accessed June 12, 2013.
- Ferry GD. Prevention and treatment of acute constipation in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 12, 2013.
- Ferry GD. Treatment of chronic functional constipation and fecal incontinence in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 13, 2013.
- Constipation. National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipation/. Accessed June 10, 2013.
- Young L, et al. Integrative care for pediatric patients with pain. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. In press. Accessed June 13, 2013.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 27, 2013.