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Constipation in Children (cont.)

Constipation in Children Diagnosis

  • A health care practitioner will perform an examination to assess the child's general appearance and growth. The health care practitioner will look for signs of diseases that may cause constipation.
    • Close attention to the abdominal exam may reveal distention, tenderness, or hard stool that can be felt.
    • Anal inspection will be performed to check for problems. The The health care practitioner may perform a digital rectal exam with his or her finger to check for hard stool in the rectum or to see if the rectum is dilated.
    • The stool may need to be tested for blood.
  • Usually no diagnostic tests or X-rays have to be performed if the history and exam suggest constipation. Sometimes an abdominal radiograph (X-ray) is obtained and shows stool in the colon. If a medical problem is suspected as the cause of constipation, blood tests or other abdominal imaging studies may need to be performed.
  • The most useful tool the doctor can use to diagnose constipation is the history given by the parents. A doctor needs to know the following:
    • What is meant when parents use the term constipation and how long has the condition been present?
    • What is the size and consistency of the stools?
    • How frequent are the bowel movements?
    • Is pain present with stooling and is there blood present?
    • Is abdominal pain a problem?
    • Is there poor appetite, weight loss, or poor weight gain?
    • Are episodes of fecal soiling present?
    • Does the child use the bathroom at school?
    • What over-the-counter, herbal, or prescription medications are being taken?
    • What type of diet is the child on?
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/1/2016

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