Constipation– causes, treatment and prevention

Everybody poops! Well apparently not everybody…sometimes people have a really hard time pooping and we call that constipation. What goes in, must come out! Here we will talk hard poop! We love poop so much we have a whole article on all things poop! Check that out if your child has odd colored poop or if you are panicking about poop! 

Your poop is hard

Constipation is best treated as soon as poops get hard. Let’s talk hard poop. Pebble like stools, big log poops and giant hard to push out poops are all considered constipation. Poop should be soft and easy to push out (like toothpaste). Straining, pain, and suffering during pooping can be caused by constipation. 

Hard poop and abdominal pain

When you have a belly full of poo, it’s going to start to hurt. The Poop has to go somewhere. You may start to feel full and eat less, your belly may become distended (look like it’s sticking out), and you might have pain. Some people stool every day and some less often. The key is to have soft, bulky, easy to push out poops! If you try all our suggestions and you don’t poop after a week, take a trip to your primary care for and exam and evaluation! Any belly pain that keeps getting worse without relief, or that prevents you from getting up and walking should be seen right away. Abdominal pain that continues to worsen, or doesn’t improve with a poo or that is accompanied by high fever or vomiting could be serious. Chat with us so we can help you decide if a visit to your primary care or urgent care is the right choice, or if it’s time to head to the emergency room.

Hard poop, how to help resolve the pain

Once you poop, the pain should improve. A nice warm bath to help things relax can help. A gentle massage to your belly is another great technique to get things moving. Going for a stroll is another way to move things along. An active lifestyle can help with getting your poop moving, believe it or not! Sometimes the pain will come and go as the hard ball of poop moves through your intestines. The pain should not be constant, worsen or prevent you from your daily routine. If the pain is that bad, then a medical provider should feel and listen to that belly to be sure nothing serious is going on.

Leaky poop and constipation

When there is a giant ball of poop blocking the exit, the body tries to figure out how to make a little room for the next round of poo. What sometimes happens is that some poop leaks around the hard ball and your child or yourself will start having small accidents. Some think this is diarrhea before they realize it’s just poop leakage. Once the hard ball finally comes out, the leakage should stop. This can be especially traumatizing to school aged kids with constipation. Tell them what’s happening and how to fix it.

Constipation in toddlers

Toddlers hate to poop! It’s scary and gross and they love the control they have when holding in their poop. They have total control over when and where they poo. It’s probably the only thing they can completely control. This is why it’s common for toddlers to hold their poop in and become constipated. It’s easy to hold it in, but once it gets backed up, it becomes really hard to get the poop out! Once it’s painful, forget it! The poo is going to hide for as long as possible. Toddlers are stubborn and strong. That poop is going to take some coaxing to come out! It’s important to try and keep that poop soft and moving along!

Bathroom regimen

Taking a bathroom break and having a poop routine is a great way to regulate poop. Give yourself or your child a toilet break, 30 min after meals. Relax, read a book and take a seat. It’s time to train that body to poop after meals. Have your child head to the school nurse for a more private poop break if privacy is preventing poop at school. Now is the time to offer a new book to your child, an incentive, soothing music or a straight up bribe! Let’s face it, desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Diet and constipation 

A diet full of fiber will help make your poop easier to push out. The bulkier the poop the easier it is to come out. Bulky poop holds water and is usually softer. You don’t want a hard packed poop, you want a nice full soft poo!

Increase your fruit and veggie intake

 Lots of fruit can help soften that poop. Avoid bananas! Increase all of the “p” fruits, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, to name a few. Veggie roughage will help you to poo too! Fill that kiddo with melon and cut up grapes and lots of veggies and you will have a giant poo in no time! Sadly, juicing the veggies/fruits will not work as the pulp that is lost contains all the fiber! 

Nuts and beans are really high in fiber too! So have those kids snack on almonds and make it taco night with lots of beans and veggies…YUM! Check out this great list of high fiber foods. 

Drinking lots of water will help too. You want there to be extra water so that it absorbs into your poop. Lots of water is great for the body. Push water on your child all day long and especially during warm weather and when they are active. 

For infants and toddlers, prune juice can be a great option for a high fiber fluid. If your child is taking bottles, try mixing breastmilk/formula 50:50 with prune juice (example: 1 ounce breastmilk mixed with 1 ounce prune juice) and give them the bottle one time or two times per day. This usually is a great first step! If that doesn’t help, ask your pediatrician. 

Cut back on cow’s milk and dairy products. One serving of dairy a day is the most you or your kiddo should have if you are having hard stools! Limit cow’s milk to 6-8 oz per day. Your dairy loving constipated kiddo will need to cut back on Mac and cheese, cheese sticks and all that milk! 

The poop struggle is real

Don’t panic. The poop must come out! The best way to tackle poop problems is from the top down. Change that diet, increase that water and get that poop out!

If you are having more pain, fever or vomiting or you are worried about your poop, get checked out. Poop can be treated from the bottom up but it’s a good idea to get checked out if you can’t seem to get things moving with good old diet changes. It’s important to know what is going on before starting medications such as a laxative, especially in kids. Chat with us and our nurses can help you!

Nurse-1-1 Health Center is written by nurses in a straight to the point type of way to provide basic health information. We get a lot of people like you searching online for answers to health concerns or looking for a hotline to ask a nurse a few questions. Questions like, I have been suffering from headache and fatigue for a while. Should I be worried? What is the the difference between a common cold vs flu? Is fever in kids bad? Well we can help. We put some info here for you to find while searching through all that other dry, scary medical information online. Stop that. Read our posts, or chat with us. This is not medical advice or a replacement for medical care, but see what we have to say with our free health information, and hopefully it will stop you from scaring yourself any more than you already have. We can help.