A to Z: Constipation
Constipation means having fewer and harder bowel movements (poops) than usual.
More to Know
Constipation is when:
- Someone has fewer than three bowel movements in a week.
- The poop is hard, dry, and very large.
- It’s difficult to poop.
Constipation is not usually a sign of something serious. Common reasons kids get constipated are:
- not having enough fluids and
fiberin the diet
- too little exercise
- not fully emptying the bowel when pooping
People who are constipated might have belly pain and a hard time pooping. They might see a bit of blood on the toilet paper after wiping because straining to pass a hard stool can crack the skin of the anus.
Some kids might get constipated because of changes in routine. They might be worried or stressed about a new situation. For example, kids who start a new school may feel nervous about using a new bathroom. Constipation can also be a side effect of some medicines.
Constipation usually goes away on its own when kids drink enough fluids, eat high-fiber foods, and get enough exercise. Kids should also learn to go to the toilet when they feel the urge and not try to hold in a bowel movement.
Keep in Mind
Sometimes, bad constipation can be a sign a child has a health problem. Call your doctor if constipation lasts more than a week or a child also has bad belly pain or throws up.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.