About Constipation in infants, children and adults

About Constipation in infants, children and adults

Constipation is very common complain among all age groups. Right from infancy to geriatric group constipation is common problem in modern world. Considering the nature of the problem it is not discussed so openly among many communities. At some places the people hesitate to get medical help for the problem and at some places medical help is neither needed.  Here we discuss what constipation is in a post ‘About constipation’.

Constipation Definition:

“Constipation is defined as a delay or difficulty in defecation present for 2 wk or longer and significant enough to cause distress to the patient.”

Currently medicine describes and defines constipation as delay in passing stool. This delay in passing stool may or may not be related with difficulty in passing stool. These complain should last for 2 weeks or longer to be called as constipation. Additionally any of these complain should cause a distress to the patient. That essentially means if someone is passing stool once a week but he/she is comfortable with that there is no need to label and treat it as this condition.  In infants and young children pain while passing stool cause them to hold stool and in fact they pass small stool frequently with pain. So delay or difficulty (pain) while passing stool is the essential criteria with distress in patient lasting for 14 days.

Constipation though annoying it is a symptom. That means it is not a disease in itself. Like fever and headache can occur in many illnesses, constipation does occur in many illnesses. There is no single cause of constipation. So if someone comes with constipation, its cause should be found out before starting the treatment.

Currently nearly 10-15 percent population suffers constipation. Everyone has tendency to suffer this condition at some stage of the life. This suffering may be mild for some and for some it is very severe to the extent they can’t function normally.

This condition can be found any age group from the birth to the geriatric population. The most common causes of constipation differ in different age groups.

Constipation in babies
Constipation in babies

In infancy and toddlers constipation is common complains. It is very distressing for parents to see the child suffering while passing the stool. The pain of this condition is typically moderate to very severe. Sometimes is is accompanied by passage of blood in stool. That is frightening for children and parents both. These episodes may occur once a week or many times a day. The passage of stool each time may become very distressful to the entire family. If child is taken care in daycare centre is becomes difficult to the parents and they may feel extremely annoyed of the situation. It is sometimes so severe that parents suffer loss of workdays too. The severity of this condition may automatically result in decreased appetite and weight loss in children. Many complications like anal fissure and anal fistula can occur with repeated injury and repeated blood loss may result in anemia and resulting failure to gain height and weight that is growth failure.

Constipation in school children

In school going children, constipation can be very annoying. Many are already hesitated to use sanitary facility at school out of fear or may be poor condition of sanitary facilities at the places. Additionally if they suffer for this condition the situation gets worsened. Food faddism found in this age group leads to the worsening of symptoms and relief seems next to impossible. These children may lose self confidence in the process and they find it difficult to mix with other children. Encopresis which is soiling of cloths with uncontrolled stool which is often complication in this age group makes it worse for these children to adapt with social norms.

Constipation in adults

In adults, constipation makes life difficult. The pain of this condition can be quite severe and uncomfortable too. The adults are hesitated to show this problem for professional advice to doctor. It becomes chronic and daily suffering. Non healthy food makes the problem worse. Many complications like anal fissure, anal fistula, piles and ever hernia can be the outcome of the constipation.

This problem is common in both the sexes but males are found to be suffering more commonly than females.

People of all races have equal tendency to suffer this condition. This problem is common across the entire globe.

For constipation many drugs are advised from herbal to allopathic medicines. Many of these medicines are sold over the counter and people buy it after watching the ads. This can give relief in short span of times but ultimately they treat the symptoms not the cause of the symptoms. Many of those suffer this condition do not need medicines still they consume those after watching the ads. Sometimes using these drugs for sufficiently long period can make the condition worse, additionally though they claim no side effects, they do have side effects.

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