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Constipation and Fecal Soiling (Encopresis): Signs and Symptoms

What are the signs and symptoms of constipation?

Children who are constipated can show a variety of behavioral and physical symptoms. They include:

  • Hiding in the corner, turning red in the face, crying, screaming, shaking and crossing their legs to keep from passing stool. Parents often mistake this behavior as trying to have a bowel movement when in fact the child is trying to withhold a bowel movement.
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Passage of dry, hard stools
  • Skipping days between stools
  • Passage of stool that clogs the toilet
  • Passage of stool that causes a tear in the anus called a fissure. Blood is usually seen on the toilet tissue.
  • An appetite that varies between being very small to very large
  • Leakage of stool in the underwear (sometimes this is mistaken for diarrhea)
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections