How Do I Know If My Child Is Constipated?

April 15, 2024

Constipation plays a big role in bladder and bowel functioning. So ruling it out should be one of the first things to do. But how do you know if your child is constipated? You may think of constipation simply as having difficulty pooping or having to strain significantly. While these can be indicators of constipation, there are other symptoms that should be addressed as well. 

First, consider the frequency of bowel movements. Established guidelines say anywhere from 3 times per day to 3 times per week is considered normal. However, for children, especially with symptoms or history of bladder and bowel dysfunction, we want them to have a daily bowel movement. If the frequency of bowel movements is inconsistent or few and far between, it could be a sign that your child is constipated. 

Second, think about the type of stool. The Bristol Stool Scale is helpful here to visualize different types of stool and what the texture and consistency may suggest. Typically, if we are seeing Type 1 to Type 3 stools, this is suggestive of constipation. Type 4 and Type 5 are ideal. Type 6 and Type 7 are loose stools or diarrhea. 

Third, consider how we are pooping. Is your child pushing, straining, and/or holding their breath? Does it take a while to get the poop out or do they tell you they can’t get it all out? Is there ever pain or blood with bowel movements? Straining, pain, and bleeding can all be indicative of constipation. 

Lastly, leakage such as urinary leakage, fecal smears or staining can also be indicative of constipation. Due to the proximity of the bladder to the rectum, constipation can increase symptoms of urinary urgency, frequency, and leakage.

Keep in mind these are just a few of the things to consider when thinking about bowel functioning. It is important to understand if constipation may be present in order to manage it. 

Need any help? Contact me at Activcore Littleton to help your child feel and move better.

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this post are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Dr. Rachel Gerton

Physical Therapist
Rachel Gerton is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) who specializes in pelvic health with a particular interest in helping pregnant and postpartum moms. She also enjoys treating kids and those experiencing pelvic pain. She works at Activcore in Denver, Colorado, located just one mile from the popular Cherry Creek Shopping District. She also works at Activcore in Littleton, Colorado, which is located inside the Womens Health Care Associates OBGYN clinic.


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