The definition of constipation varies with almost every individual. The medical community tends to define it as infrequent bowel movements, while non-medical persons consider constipation to be the passing of hard stools or straining to have a bowel movement.
The colon (large intestine) absorbs water while forming waste products (stool) from digested food. Muscle contractions in the colon push the stool toward the rectum. By the time stool reaches the rectum, it is solid because most of the water has been absorbed.
Hard, dry stools and constipation occur when the colon absorbs too much water away from the stool. This can happen because the muscle of the colon contracts too slowly causing the stool to move through too slowly. There are many causes of constipation and there are often many factors leading to the problem. The treatment of constipation includes lifestyle changes, as well as medication, and rarely, surgery.
Constipation is a common complaint in children, occurring in up to 10% of youngsters. It accounts for approximately 3% of pediatric outpatient visits and 25% of visits to the pediatric gastroenterologist. Usually, constipation is a temporary problem in children, and no cause for concern. However, persistent constipation can cause a variety of complications including abdominal pain, anal fissures, urinary tract infection, perianal cellulitis, and mood disturbances.
The Medifocus Guide on Childhood Constipation provides answers to the following important questions and medical issues:
What are the most common symptoms of constipation?
Are there any recognized risk factors for developing constipation?
What kinds of medical tests are used to establish the diagnosis of constipation?
What is the current standard of care for the treatment of constipation?
What treatment options are available for the management of constipation?
Are there any promising new developments or potential breakthroughs in treatment?
Who are the most notable medical authorities who specialize in constipation?
Where are the leading hospitals and centers of research for constipation?
What are the most important questions to ask my doctor about constipation?
What Your Doctor Reads:
This MediFocus Guide contains an extensive listing of citations and abstracts of recent journal articles that have been published about this condition in trustworthy medical journals. This is the same type of information that is available to physicians and other health care professionals. A partial selection of journal articles that are abstracted in this MediFocus Guide includes:
Advances in the management of pediatric constipation. Current Gastroenterology Reports. 2000
Defecation disorders in the neurologically impaired child. Pediatric Annals. 1999
Constipation: physical and psychological sequelae. Pediatric Annals. 1999
Chronic abdominal pain in childhood: diagnosis and management. American Family Physician. 1999
Acquired motility disorders in childhood. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology. 1999
Constipation: an approach to diagnosis, treatment, referral. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 1999
Are constipated children different from constipated adults?. Digestive Diseases. 1999
Constipation, soiling and encopresis. Practitioner. 1999
Management of colorectal-anal dysfunction. Obstetrics & Gynecology Clinics of North America. 1998
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