need help desperately!


Liz - posted on 02/20/2013




First of all, I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who got chronic constipation as an infant to such an extent that I developed what is known as mega colon. Basically, all the muscles of the colon were stretched to the point where I had 0% muscle tone throughout the entirety of my intestine, due to over filling with poop. This happened despite the fact that my mom was an RN, knew what to feed me and I had a diet FULL of fibre. Even at age 2 I was eating salads, oatmeal, handfuls of raisin and my mom was putting a whole cooked onion into my foods covertly throughout the day. It just so happened I was genetically predisposed to problems of that kind. Unfortunately, I have a life long legacy of trouble because of that one incident, because I never got the majority of the muscle tone back.

I'm noticing similar issues with my 3 year old daughter. She, like your son, has a picky diet and prefers all those things which we know lead to constipation. We have to really lean on the problem, feed her prune juice and raisins (we call it medicine and medicine berries, because she takes them then) and monitor her output very very carefully. Bit by bit we are trying to introduce more non-processed fibre into her diet and sometimes that requires telling her that this is her dinner and there's nothing else if she doesn't eat it. She has gone to bed with no dinner a few times, but gradually this approach is working.

From now on, now that you know how big of an issue this can be for your son, you have to pay daily attention to his pooping so that he doesn't go through this again or end up with worse problems like me. Never mind what text books say about how many days without poop are okay: work on the premise that if there is no poop at all in 2 days, then you have a problem. Be ready to advocate for your son if he is ever in hospital and the doctors are not listening to you concerning the number of days without poop. ( I still have to argue (politely) as an adult with medical staff who don't want to listen to me.) You don't want him to end up with a hypotonic bowel and you may have to wave his history in their faces until they listen and give his situation the respect that it deserves. Too many medical staff think constipation is nothing, not severe, not serious and that parents who worry about it are just feeding a ridiculous diet and should go home and get on with it. It's an attitude that stinks and I sympathise with you if you've ever met it.

I would arm yourself with medications that you can get over the counter: mainly glycerine suppositories, which stimulate fecal evacuation, pediatric enema and so on. Laxatives and enema really need to be last resort and taken with the advice of your doctor. It just happens to be handy to keep them in the house so you can go straight to them when it's clear that they are indicated. I would NOT overuse laxatives on anyone, adult or child, as they can become dependent on them in order to poop and it can also cause other problems. Never use any form of laxative if you've already used it for more than one day with no result, as if there is a serious impaction of feces in the colon this can actually cause a perforation of the bowel and be fatal. My mother in law died for this exact reason. Always best to have a doctor's input, even if you only touch base with them over the phone.

Other than that, keep doing what you're doing and get as much fibre into your son as you can. Avoid peanut butter, milk, bananas, processed foods, all dairy really especially cheese. Serve as much as you can in the wholegrain variety: you can get brown rice, wholegrain bread, wholegrain cereal, wholegrain bagels etc. Teach him now that wholegrain is really his only option. If he won't eat prunes (I'd imagine not since I can't stomach them even as an adult) try to get him used to drinking 4oz of prune juice a day.

Above all, know that you're not alone. It's going to take effort, but if you stay on top of this problem and teach him from now onwards the building blocks that he'll need in order to regulate the issue, you'll have done a great job.

Good luck.

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