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Pediatric Constipation – Overview

October 22, 2021


So, what is constipation? Constipation is perhaps one of the most common issues a child can experience. In fact, among all of the doctor visits a kid will make in their lifetime, one out of every 20 will be because of constipation. Adults aren’t immune either, as we estimate about 30 to 40% of adults are also chronically constipated. Clinically, the definition of constipation is stools that are difficult to pass that look hard, dry or lumpy, or, bowel movements that happen two times a week or less. Often, we will also see types of constipation where a stool is relatively soft, but they’re extremely large. And so you end up with someone clogging the toilet. When you think about how the colon works, the mechanism of constipation makes sense. The job of the colon is to hold stool and to reabsorb water. The longer it sits there, the more water reabsorbs and the harder and drier they are and the harder they are to get out.

In addition, the way you know you have to go is because your colon stretches. But as you know, if you’re doing something else and you’re busy, you don’t always have to go, unless it’s an absolute emergency, you can say, “You know what, I’m going to wait,” and you can hold it. And the signal tends to go away for a little while. The problem is, if you do this over and over again, your colon actually ends up stretching out a little bit. And that means that it takes more stool, more poop to actually fill it up and give you that signal again, which means that it sits there longer, which means more water reabsorbs. So the longer it sits in there, because again, you have this stretched out colon, it sits in there longer, and it ends up with water reabsorbing and becomes hard. And so that creates a cycle where even if you’re able to get that out, it’s going to regenerate itself unless you treat it.

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