Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Risk Factors serious signs Evaluation fiberoptic procedures Treatment specialist Home Care constipation diarrhea infants vomiting warning signs Outlook Underlying Cause Anatomy

Cramping Abdominal Pain in Children Constipation

Home treatment of constipation in children with abdominal pain includes general measures and changes in diet. Avoid enemas and laxatives unless the doctor directs you to do so.

General Measures

  • Avoid foods that seem to give your child constipation. Cheese, 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: one teaspoon of Karo syrup per day.
  • Infants older than 2 months: 2-4 ounces of fruit juices, such as grape, pear, cherry or apple, per day. Prune juice can be used as a last resort. Orange juice and citrus juices are not as effective.
  • Infants older than 4 months: provide high fiber baby foods, such as peas, beans, cereals, apricots, prunes, pears, and spinach.
  • No enemas in children under 1 year of age.

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 Cramping Abdominal Pain in Children Diarrhea

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Cramping Abdominal Pain in Children References
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  4. Kaiser S, Finnbogason T, Jorulf HK, et al: Suspected appendicitis in children: diagnosis with contrast-enhanced versus nonenhanced Helical CT. Radiology 2004 May; 231(2): 427-33. [15031433]
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  6. McCollough M, Sharieff GQ. Abdominal pain in children. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2006 Feb;53(1):107-37, vi. Review.[16487787]
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