Signs & Symptoms of Constipation

Constipation can leave clues that may not be obvious to a parent or caregiver. Sometimes the only clue may be excessive crying and/or clinginess, especially in nonverbal children.

Here are a list of physical signs and symptoms, including some behavioral ones, that may point to constipation:

  • Cramps, stomachaches, nausea, grabbing at or rubbing abdomen

  • Soiling/encopresis – when liquid stool leaks around an impacted stool mass, resulting in staining of the underwear. This is an involuntary action that can be misinterpreted by parents as a fecal accident that is not related to constipation.

  • Retreating to the corner of a room or underneath a table for periods of time

  • General increased irritability and/or anxiety

  • Avoiding the bathroom (if child is potty-trained)

  • Not wanting to leave the home or a familiar place

  • Refusing to eat/drink, or eating/drinking less than usual

  • "Acting out" or showing violence and/or irrational behavior toward others

  • Clinginess to a parent or caregiver

  • Crying excessively

  • Not wanting to get dressed or wear restrictive clothing like pants, belts, etc.

  • Not wanting to sit down in a chair, play on the floor, run around, etc.

There are many, many signs that can hint toward constipation. If your child can communicate, ask him/her what is bothering them. Ask them to point to where it hurts and ask them if there is more than one area that the pain is coming from. Discuss these symptoms with other caretakers as well, and ask them if they are noticing the same patterns. Reassure your child that this is okay and you are there to help them feel better.

The best way to help kids with constipation is to avoid it and treat it preventatively. The first line of defense is maintaining a diet full of fiber, fruits, vegetables, and adequate hydration with water. If the child’s digestive system needs some additional support, Pedia-Lax® has a full line of laxatives for children that provide relief within hours. Pedia-Lax® Chewable Tablets work quickly, in 30 minutes to six hours, while Pedia-Lax® Liquid Glycerin Suppositories can work in as little as 15 minutes. These formulations are specifically designed for kids, making them preferable to the adult formulations found in stores.

If symptoms and signs persist despite dietary changes and/or the addition of these Pedia-Lax® products, you must consult your child’s pediatrician or healthcare professional. It is always a good rule of thumb to check with your pediatrician or healthcare professional before starting any regular plan of care, as constipation may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Everyone should be on the same page when it comes to helping your child have good digestive and bowel health!