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Constipation is a condition where stool (poop) is hard, difficult to pass, or moves too slowly through the digestive tract. Constipation is a common side effect of certain treatments for serious childhood illnesses such as cancers and blood disorders.
Dietary changes, drinking more fluids, and physical activity can help manage constipation. Your child’s care team may also recommend medicines to help.
Bowel habits are different for everyone. But usually your child should have bowel movements 3 or more times a week.
Constipation symptoms include:
Your child might need a medical exam to confirm constipation. The exam may include a health history, feeling the abdomen, lab tests, or imaging tests.
Several factors may lead to constipation in children with serious illnesses.
Constipation is a side effect of some common medicines.
Opioid medicines can:
Your child’s care team may recommend a laxative if your child is prescribed an opioid.
Mild constipation is usually first treated with diet and lifestyle changes like drinking more water, eating more fiber, and increasing physical activity.
The next step in treatment may be medicine to encourage bowel movement.
Laxatives are medicines that relieve constipation. Your child may take them by mouth. But your child’s doctor could also prescribe an enema or rectal suppository.
Many laxatives are available without a prescription. Talk with the care team before giving your child any medicine.
Nausea, loss of appetite, and fatigue can make it hard for patients to eat enough calories and high fiber foods during cancer treatment. Some diet changes to help constipation include:
Together does not endorse any branded product mentioned in this article.
Reviewed: April 2022