Children's Hospital Colorado

Treatment and Management of Constipation in Children (S1:E4)

Constipation can be a serious condition with real physical and mental health consequences for children.

It's important to begin treatment early, especially for young children. If children learn to be fearful and develop poor toileting habits, that will make constipation treatment even more difficult later. Primary care physicians should provide medication for constipation, as well as address the cause. The two types are functional constipation, which has no medical cause, and organic constipation, which does.

Listen to our pediatric gastroenterology expert discuss constipation management in children

It's important to treat both the medical and psychological factors contributing to constipation. It rarely works to address only one, especially for long-term success.

Full treatment can take up to a year as patients work on behavioral and dietary changes, and address any anxiety or other mental health concerns. In this episode, Joel Friedlander, MD, joins us to discuss constipation management and the effects of leaving constipation untreated, especially in young children.

Dr. Friedlander is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children's Hospital Colorado and an associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

In today's episode, we discuss:

  • Addressing constipation and uncomfortable stools early
  • Potential long-term complications associated with constipation
  • Two key components of the physical examination
  • Miralax, one of the most common laxatives for constipation
  • The use of lactulose for young children
  • Categorizing medications for constipation
  • The potential for adverse effects of constipation medication
  • Steps for behavioral modification
  • The difference between functional constipation and organic constipation
  • Why medication won’t resolve constipation without a change in behavior

Treating constipation at Children's Colorado

At Children's Colorado, we treat children and adolescents with digestive problems at our Digestive Health Institute. Our multidisciplinary team is sensitive to the emotional needs of our patients. We work to treat the whole child, with experts in gastroenterology, psychology, nutrition and more. Refer a patient to Children's Colorado.