Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation fiberoptic procedures Treatment specialist Home Care constipation foods to avoid warning signs Underlying Cause Anatomy

Abdominal Swelling Constipation

If constipation is present, treating this condition may help resolve abdominal swelling. Constipation with abdominal swelling with pain, vomiting or fever should not be treated at home.

Home Care Measures for Adults

  • Avoid enemas and laxatives unless OK with your doctor.
  • Avoid foods that seem to give you constipation. Some cheeses, white flour, and white rice can trigger constipation.
  • Avoid straining on the toilet, this can cause hemorrhoids and complicate things further.
  • Don't ignore the urge to move your bowels -- this can throw off your schedule and cause you problems.
  • Drink more water.
  • Eat more fiber. Fruits, vegetables, and fiber supplements such as Metamucil are fine.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Try mild caffeine-containing beverages. These often have a mild laxative effect.

Home Care Measures for Children
Home treatment for constipation in children mainly relies on general measures and diet. Laxatives and enemas should be avoided in children with abdominal swelling unless advised by your doctor.

Home care includes:
  • Avoid foods that seem to give your child constipation. Some cheeses, white flour, and white rice can trigger constipation.
  • Avoid straining on the toilet, this can cause hemorrhoids and complicate things further.
  • Encourage drinking plenty of water.
  • Encourage regular activity and exercise.
  • Encourage your child to use the bathroom when the urge occurs.
  • Give your child a high-fiber diet every day. Fruits and vegetables are best. Older children may use fiber supplements such as Metamucil.

Care for Infants Under 1 Year
  • Infants younger than 2 months: give one teaspoon of Karo syrup per day.
  • Infants older than 2 months: give 2-4 ounces of fruit juices (e.g. grape, pear, cherry, or apple) per day. Prune juice can be tried last. Orange juice and citrus juices are not as effective (contain lower levels of sorbitol).
  • Infants older than 4 months: try adding higher fiber baby foods such as peas, beans, cereals, apricots, prunes, pears, and spinach.

Care for Children Over 1 Year
  • Make sure your child eats more fiber. The easiest way to do this is to include more fruits and vegetables in the diet. Raw, unpeeled fruits and vegetables are best.
  • Bran is a natural stool softener and is high in fiber. Consider oatmeal, bran muffins, shredded wheat, graham crackers, and whole wheat bread.
  • A normal saline or Fleet enema may be considered in children over 2 years of age under the direction of a doctor.
  • Anal fissures are commonly associated with straining. They can also contribute to constipation. Symptoms include pain during bowel movements and blood on the surface of the stools.
    • Treat anal fissures with warm, saltwater baths for 20 minutes, three times per day. Apply a non-prescription 0.5% hydrocortisone cream to the fissure after soaking.
  • Consider a stool softener if changing the diet is unsuccessful. These medications can be given with dinner for one week.
    • Examples of stool softeners include Colace, Haley's M-O, Metamucil, Citrucel, and mineral oil (1-2 tsp or 5-10 cc).

Continue to Abdominal Swelling Foods to Avoid

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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