Infant constipation, like constipation in adults, is a common cause of abdominal pain in this age group. Children can have a very wide range of variations in the frequency at which they open their bowel. Constipation can occur in the newborn, infant, toddler, or indeed a child of any age.
Most breast fed infants have loose stools, but some are prone to infrequent bowel movements. Constipation is most often caused by a low-fiber diet, lack of physical activity, inadequate intake of fluid each day, or delay in going to the bathroom when you have the urge to defecate.
Constipation is one of the most common types of digestive upsets, but it can often be accompanied by heartburn and stomach cramps. Constipation is experienced when digestion becomes awkward, painful, prolonged and irregular – though irregularity is not necessarily a characteristic of constipation.
Constipation can be caused by numerous things including stress, insufficient fibre in the diet, not enough liquid intake, excess protein, refined foods, or no exercise. It can also be caused by the under functioning of the liver or thyroid.
Other causes include pregnancy, metabolic disorders, structural abnormalities, antacids, old age and constant use of laxatives. Constipation can also be a side effect of some medications.
Sudden blockages, bleeding or changes in bowel habits must be checked by a medical practitioner.
Constipation generally can be treated by changing to a well balanced diet high in fibre with at least 6-8 glasses of water daily and regular exercise.
A glass of hot water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed into it, especially when taken in the morning can be very beneficial, especially if followed by a walk.
Aloe gel ~ Dandelion ~ Psyllium ~ Senna ~ Yellow dock ~ Chamomile (to relax intestinal muscles)
An ideal breakfast would be fruit such as prunes or figs with cereal and rice bran. Another suggestion would be buckwheat seeds cooked with raisins, apple and cinnamon. Rice bran is preferred over wheat bran as wheat bran can be difficult to digest and can also contribute to haemorrhoids. For most people, bran acts as a fibre laxative but for sensitive people it can actually cause constipation and bloating, especially when fluid intake is inadequate. If these breakfasts don’t appeal, you can try any cereal with some psyllium powder sprinkled over.
The best adviceâstick to natureâs way where your childâs health is concerned. Women have been breastfeeding for many thousands of years and their bodies were designed specifically with this function in mind. All the NASA technology, Internet innovation, genetic engineering, and chemical manipulations in the world have yet to improve on the natural biological structure and benefits of motherâs milk. Breast-fed infants reap many boons from motherâs milk: vastly increased immunological factors, fewer earaches and infections, greater hardiness and growth, easier digestibility and absorption of nutrients, improved social and emotional adjustment, and reduced chances of becoming constipated just to name a few.
When it comes to relieving constipation, we are a society expecting quick fixes. We want it out and now, right? Itâs no surprise we spend about 900 million dollars on laxatives each year. Laxatives, though, should be a last resort for many reasons. Since they are available without a prescription we tend to think of them as safe. Unfortunately, they can become habit-forming quickly and they are harmful to your body in the long-term.
Types of Laxatives:
- Bulk laxatives – This is the best type of laxative to relieve constipation for prolonged use. Though usually taking a few days to start working, they can provide some relief. Remember to drink plenty of water. Bulk laxatives include: psyllium husk (available through health food stores), bran, ispaghula husk, and sterculia.
- Stimulant laxatives – These laxatives aim at increasing bowel contractions but can cause stomach cramps as a side effect. These are taken at night to have a morning bowel movement, as they are supposed to work within 6-12 hours. Senna is an example of a stimulant laxative. Although they work to relieve constipation, experts believe the contractions cause weakening of the digestive muscles which will eventually make the problem worse. Since these laxatives cause contractions, they are not safe for pregnant women. Glycerol suppositories are included in this group. Although they are inserted into the rectum, they still act as a stimulant.
- Osmotic laxatives – These go to work at relieving constipation by helping the bowel retain water and by softening the stool. Epsom salts and Milk of Magnesia are osmotic laxatives.
- Lactulose – This medication comes in crystals or liquid form. A type of sugar that isnât digested by the body, Lactulose acts like a fiber and osmotic laxative combined. This type takes up to 3 days to work and may cause cramping and profuse gas.
There are other medications that act as stool softeners, which basically coat the bowel so water doesnât get absorbed from the stool. Since the body naturally removes water from the colon, it isnât suitable as a long-term solution for relieving constipation.
Natural Methods – Fiber In, Fiber Out
Adding fiber to your diet is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, relatively free of constipation. If you think fiber means just eating more bran, think again. You can also add fiber to your diet via fruits (with the skin), green vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds. Nuts and grains are also important because they are a good source of essential fatty acids (especially flaxseed or flax oil) which are wonderful options to relieve constipation naturally.
Adding fiber to your diet may make you feel like a gas-filled balloon at first. If your body has been used to eating white flour, heavy starches, fatty meats, and other low fiber foods, it may take some time to get used to it. Donât give up after one short week. Remember, it probably took years of eating a low fiber diet to make constipation an issue in your intestines. Give fiber a chance! After 14-21 days of including more fiber in your diet, youâll start to wonder why you didnât make it a priority before.
Forming new habits really means youâre getting rid of the old one. If relieving constipation is your goal, youâll want to stay away from the constipation culprits like: white flour, fried foods, sweets, carbonated drinks, alcohol, refined sugars, and cheese.
Maintain Your Flora
No, weâre not talking about your vegetable garden. Good bacterial flora is essential for proper digestion. In fact, if you took all the bacteria in your digestive system and put them all together youâd have a mass the size and weight of a brick. When we abuse laxatives and enemas, we can create havoc on the good bacteria we need to avoid diarrhea and help relieve constipation.
Eating yogurt with live cultures is one way to maintain your flora population. Be sure to read the label of your yogurt container. It should say it contains âlive and active cultures.â If youâd rather not take their word for it, check the ingredients for Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophius.
Refrain From the Strain
With some people, constipation stems from issues with muscle coordination. They seem to contract the anus muscles when they should be relaxing them. There are certain biofeedback methods available for people who suffer with this problem. The treatment is used on those suffering from severe constipation linked directly to this muscle contraction issue.
Most of the waste matter produced from the food we eat gets passed out within a 72-hour period. Sometimes, up to 30% of that waste can sit in the colon for a week or more. Since retaining waste is not good for the body or health, a weekly cleansing of the colon will go a long way at relieving constipation. Oxy-PowderÂ® is a safe way to clean out any waste that may be loitering in your colon and using it once a week will help improve bowel function. Remember the following: Avoid chemical laxatives. True, they can work for a while but along with those results come the weakened bowels, potentially unsafe contractions, and other nasty side effects. Add fiber to you diet. Fiber bulks up your stool and helps it retain water, which makes it easier to move along. There are many tasty and nutritious sources of fiber from which you can choose, so donât fear that youâll have to eat twigs or acorns or something. Keep a good quantity of bacteria on hand. Especially while undertaking a thorough colon cleansing program, replenish your flora with healthful and yummy yogurt. Relax and go. Donât strain or try to force out impacted waste. You can end up tearing tissue and hurting yourself in the process. Cleanse naturally. Leave the chemicals in your garage where they belong and try a supplement especially suited for the job, one that just helps clean your colon so it can work its best again. Follow these guidelines to help relieve constipation and you can feel great again!
The Colon Cleansing & Constipation Resource Center