5-year-old chronic constipation--please help us! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 06-01-2009, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
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My five-year-old son has had trouble with constipation since he started eating solid food. We tried all sorts of diet changes to start, with no success. So we moved to Miralax, and he'd been taking a daily dose of that for quite a while. And it helped for quite a while. But it's not helping anymore.

About three weeks ago I started giving him Benefiber for Children. It was seeming to work for the first two weeks, but now he's all stopped up again. He's been miserable for the past two days (went to sit on the potty THREE TIMES during lunch today). Eeek--we all know how it feels! My energetic, fun boy turns into a grumpy couch potato. I just feel horrible for him and I don't know what to do.

We are a vegetarian family, and my son has been a vegetarian since birth--I would guess he gets more fiber through veggies than a lot of his friends, even. Is there a such thing as "chronic constipation"? We've tried so many different ways to help him, and I'm so out of ideas. I'm just about ready to take him to a doctor about it.

Please help my little Jack, mamas! What do you think, what have you tried, what has worked and what hasn't? I'm ALL EARS about poop here. Please share your poopy stories!
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#2 of 21 Old 06-01-2009, 09:24 PM
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Sorry to hear your lil boy is in pain. Ugh!

You said you're vegetarian, but do you do dairy? My DD was horribly constipated when she first had cow's milk. When we switched her to goat's milk, everything was magically all better! Well, not magic... the molecules in goat's milk are smaller (as a baby kid is smaller than a calf) so that did the trick.

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#3 of 21 Old 06-02-2009, 02:16 AM
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I know this is going to sound crazy, but pecans do the trick for my DD. She suffers from terrible constipation but if she eats a couple of pecans every day, that seems to keep her regular. None of the fiber substitutes work as well as the pecans.

Also, I give her lots of water. She loves milk, but that makes her constipated so I try to limit the milk.
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#4 of 21 Old 06-02-2009, 02:01 PM
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My boy was prone to severe consitpation as an infant and toddler and he still gets plugged up if I feed him certain foods and don't watch his diet. I learned when he was a baby that some very specific foods constipated him. Apples always bound him up, as did bananas, rice, berries of any kind, corn, and even carrots. I know this sounds weird, but I experimented many times and it always proved to be true.

Eventually when I got things figured out I learned that he could have some of those "binding" foods as long as they were eaten in moderation and in combination with non-binding foods.

Milk and cheese also can be binding for some kids. Soy products can be very binding. My son could not have soy formula because it would consitpate him immediately. Sugar also consitpates my son. Any foods with pectin will bind up a constipation prone child (apples have pectin and Jello has tons of it).

I found that certain foods almost always helped him move his bowels. Broccoli was one of those foods. Prunes, raisins, and pears worked very well.

Some other things that helped;

Fiber Juice (you can find it online)

Pear Juice and Prune Juice (I used to give him an ounce of each mixed with water twice a day).

Benefiber (this usually helped if used in conjunction with the other remedies, and make sure you give him plenty of water with it. Too much benefiber with not enough water will cause miserable gastric distress).

Flaxseed oil (I used to give him 1-2 teaspoons each day by spoon or mixed into his foods).

Plenty of water. The bowels need plenty of water in order to work properly , so make sure he's keeping himself hydrated.
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#5 of 21 Old 06-02-2009, 02:08 PM
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Magnesium supplements have worked for us. I am still trying to figure it all out, but when I give these to my older two it seems to help them a lot.
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#6 of 21 Old 06-02-2009, 02:10 PM
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Fats. Nuts, seeds, butter, flax oil. Just get more fat. Also, fiber can backfire if you aren't getting enough water. So, push the fluids too.


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#7 of 21 Old 06-02-2009, 02:12 PM
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I know this is going to sound crazy, but pecans do the trick for my DD. She suffers from terrible constipation but if she eats a couple of pecans every day,
This makes sense, as they are a source of magnesium.
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#8 of 21 Old 06-02-2009, 02:15 PM
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Have you taken him to the dr.?

My daughter has had serious constipation issues much like what you are describing it took a lot of work to get it solved and it was very unpleasant for all of us.

This is what we did (after trying all kinds of natural stuff juice, fiber, milk of maganesia etc.) Miralax and lots of it mixed with water and juice, Enemas a fleet childs enema every day for three days-beware this makes them go right away, and then continued mirilax until they are going regularly for a month.

It is really hard and sad to give them an enema but acording to our ped. they are probably very backed up with old hard big dry poop that needs to be cleaned out.

The mirilax is a laxitive that works with out cramping or squeezing the stomach so it is painless. It is flavorless and can be bought over the counter.

It took a few rounds of the above regimine over the course of a year but she is now regular-going every day with no problems.

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#9 of 21 Old 06-02-2009, 02:27 PM
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I had severe constipation as a child.....so bad I went days and weeks. I was admitted to the hospital and actually had an ultrasound when I was 4 and they discovered that my lower intestine was twisted. It had been like that since birth. I still struggle with it to this day and I know what foods make it worse. If food elimination doesn't work maybe see if there's something actually wrong with his intestines? It's a possibility. And I know everyone says this but drink lots of water. I hope you get it figured out, it really sucks

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#10 of 21 Old 06-02-2009, 11:04 PM
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My son withheld poo starting around 7 months old (he's now 6 years old). We tried a lot of the suggestions here, including Miralax, which worked for a time but eventually became problematic; he got good at withholding the Miralax poo, and it really affected his behavior, for the worse. He somehow managed to learn to use the toilet at age 3-and-a-half, although he was often afraid to sit. At times he had problems with poo stains in his underwear, esp. at the end of a multi-day withholding streak (no pun intended).

He saw a pediatric gastrointerologist just before he turned 4, who had one suggestion that I had heard but hadn't tried: sitting on the toilet at the same time every day. He was so hesitant to sit at all I had never tried this technique. Turns out it was easier for him to sit when he didn't feel the urge at all. We called it "practicing sitting" and made it clear he wasn't expected to produce. And, believe it or not, it worked. He rarely pooped during the scheduled sitting time (mid afternoon), but started going later in the afternoon. Gradually he started pooping every 3rd or 4th day, and then every other day.

He is now 6 and we still encourage him to sit every day. Sometimes it's just for 10 seconds, sometimes longer and nothing comes out. He no longer stains his underwear, and he'll often announce out of the blue that he has to go. His behavior no longer is connected to whether or not he's gone in a while.

I hope you find something that works. I know that this problem can affect the entire family and how you relate to your child! Good luck!
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#11 of 21 Old 06-02-2009, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by mysticmomma View Post
Fats. Nuts, seeds, butter, flax oil. Just get more fat. Also, fiber can backfire if you aren't getting enough water. So, push the fluids too.
I think a lot of people overlook the fact that fiber without enough water/fluids can cause constipation in some people. We eat a ton of fiber over here every day and have to make sure that there is enough fluids going in too
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#12 of 21 Old 06-06-2009, 09:42 PM
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We have been struggling with this with our 6 year old DD for about 2 years.

We've been on the Miralax route too. We've also done the sitting on the toilet at the same time every day. Really the problem is that she withholds. If she doesn't want to go, she doesn't go.

She's otherwise a happy, healthy kid. Our doctor recently suggested we take her to a psychiatrist/psychologist because her issue is not a physical one.

We haven't gone yet. I'm in major denial about taking her to a psychiatrist. I also don't believe that people have to poo everyday. DH's mother has a lot of bathroom issues, so maybe DD inherited from her? I know I'm reaching, but I'm trying to avoid the shrink.
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#13 of 21 Old 06-07-2009, 01:11 AM
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Has he had a thyroid check? Thyroid issues can result in constipation (that could come and go.)

My son has low tone. It is mild, but sometimes he gets constipated as a result. Could this be an issue?

Have you tried Udo's supplement? When I was pregnant I took these to get all of those good fats a body needs and did it ever get things moving.

DS loves cantaloupe. : It also gets things moving.

Rather than go the enema route, I prefer to use fleet glycerin suppositories to help get things moving. It softens things up and lubricates. If DS has not gone in 3 days I will use one to prevent things from getting too backed up. It works quickly, but not instantly. Combine it with a warm bath for added help.

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#14 of 21 Old 06-08-2009, 12:05 AM
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Ds1 had lots of issues with soy. He would have crazy, uncontrollable poops, or some constipation if I had soy and he nursed, or if he had soy. I second the good flow of fluids, and recommend coconut water as well! It is like a laxative around here! Get a coconut at whole foods if possible and chop it open. The water is sweet. If you are doing dairy I would also cut that out and see if it makes a diff. Good luck! nak

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#15 of 21 Old 06-08-2009, 12:35 AM
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have you tried high-quality probiotics?
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#16 of 21 Old 06-08-2009, 12:49 AM
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Sorry, I don't have time to read through all the replies before posting but I did want to mention that my 2nd son had this happen and it was aweful. We actually ended up seeing a gastroenterologist and he had him tested for Hirschbrung's Disease which was not a pleasant test at all. He didn't have it and the gastroenterologist just told me that I had conditioned him to be that way or that he conditioned himself by having painful poopies which lead to fear of the next poopie, etc.

I totally didn't buy it and the kids would literally sweat all over his entire body when having a poop, even a very, very soft poopie. Something wasn't adding up. We eliminated a lot of food b/c he had tons of eczema and ear infections to boot as well as chiropractic and osteopathy to help with the ear infections. Anyway, one of the foods that we eliminated was milk. Well, he kept begging for yogurt so I finally gave in and let him have it. Once we did that his eczema cleared up, and his bowel movements *significantly* improved. The key was getting probiotics into his diet. Ever since then I give him a powdered probiotic (we call it "snowflakes") and he's done fine. If he eats too much sugar and I believe his yeast level goes up and probiotic level goes down he has problems again.

Give it a try! It's the best thing for any kind of intestinal distress, seriously.
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#17 of 21 Old 06-13-2009, 01:38 PM
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I'd talk to the ped. DS1 went through chronic constipation - great diet, lots of fruits, fiber, water, no junk food, and still painful poops all of the time. Basically what happens is they hold back, then the colon distends, it backs up the poop, the poop hardens, and they hold back.

Our ped started him on Miralax everyday. For SIX months - no joke. It really works. You have to get them to the point where they have to poop whether they want to or not. It doesn't make them runny, just soft and a little sticky. You might want to get some flushable wipes to help. But it takes that long to retrain the colon.

We still have to restrict bananas and cheese, and we buy a lot of grapes, raisins, high fiber cereals, and now my boys drink OJ in the morning which they never used to do. But the 5 yr old poops every day, NO problem. Now the 3 is on miralax, as he was starting to hold the poops.

In the meantime, you may need to do some Fleet enemas to get things going. Miralax is OTC but call your ped first, s/he may want to run some tests and make sure it's not something else.

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#18 of 21 Old 06-13-2009, 03:53 PM
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OP: I notice that people are suggesting Miralax, which you're already doing (or did you quit it when you started the Benefiber?).

My first thoughts were the same as a pp - fats and lots of fluid. Many people forget to make sure they take in enough liquid when they up their fiber intake, and the results are miserable.

The other thing that comes to mind...has he tried pooping in a squatting position. If you google "Nature's Platform", there's some information there about the physiological effects of sitting to poop, the way we do in our culture. It's really not that great for our bodies. Maybe that's contributing?

But, honestly - if this keeps up, I would take him to the doctor and just make sure he doesn't have any physical problems, such as the twisted intestine another poster mentioned.

for your little guy. He must be so uncomfortable all the time...

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#19 of 21 Old 06-14-2009, 12:51 PM
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Been there, still struggling. Like P-Chan and the original poster DS started having problems when he was 6 months old (and he was not eating any dairy aside from mama's milk) and the problem continues to this day. He will be 6 next month. We have, it seems, done and tried everything possible. I know at this point a lot of the problem is behavioral due to avoiding pooping secondary to fear of pain. He now recognizes that fear is causing him to avoid pooping, but he isn't old enough to talk himself through it.

He often refuses to take Miralax due to the taste (very picky eater and extremely sensitive to taste). We feed him high fiber stuff that he likes, eg.g Cracklin Oat Bran and Benefiber. His diet could be better, but we do the best we can. It simply isn't possible for battle over every bite of food he takes.

Our 'extreme measures' when its been 7-14 days since a bowel movement:
1. Chocolate exlax. Heavy does (like 3-4 pieces). Unfortunatly this sometimes fails because he can hold through even the most powerful laxative.

2. A magnesium laxative. There is a children's chewable out - made by Fleet. Its watermelon flavor and tastes pretty good. Magnesium is great at getting things moving. I have only found this medicine at Target.

3. An enema. He used to *hate* them and I aovided giving them at all costs. However, he now recognizes that they help him feel better almost immediately. He is usually ready for one once he gets uncomfortale enough. I will say that kY or similar is critical, rubbing his bottom before using the enema to help the muscle relax, and being gentle but swift is key.

4. Squating in the bathtub to poop. It's gross but he is able to push better and the clean up isn't as horrific as poop on the floor.

There is an old thread about poo problems - I will try to bring it to the top. A forum search should otherwise turn it up.

ETA: The old thread is constipation / pooping woes in school aged children. It is an older thread and thus locked, so I can't top it. It will come up on a forum search though.
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#20 of 21 Old 06-15-2009, 03:27 AM
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DS struggled with this for years. Probably from 6 months old to even now (though it's gotten MUCH better).

Mineral oil, flax seed, Miralax (not a fan), whole milk/molasses enemas (when it got BAAAAAD), x-rays, hospital stay, countless GI visits, HIGH-fiber diet, warm baths, ridiculous amounts of water, putting his feet on a stool when on the toilet and so on and so forth.

It was a nightmare and I always felt helpless because nothing we did was a great "fix". I mean, it all helped but it was so severe that even the "help" wasn't good enough. My poor little man, what he went through.

I'd talk to a Ped. (ours is amazing and she helped so much) and go from there.

Good luck to you and your little one.

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#21 of 21 Old 06-15-2009, 05:05 PM
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Others have suggested this as well, but magnesium in the form of Nature's Calm really works -- start small.

Also, I like the kids Emergen-C packets. They do the job as well and are great for hydrating in the summer heat.
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