Caring for children with constipation

Learn how our Constipation Program cares for children with constipation.

Related tests and treatments:

Our approach to constipation

The Constipation Program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin uses a combination of education, behavior management and medical interventions that are tailored to meet the unique needs of your child. Our multidisciplinary team of experts includes gastroenterologists, nurse practitioners, dieticians and psychologists who specialize in treating chronic constipation.

Constipation services we offer

We can diagnose chronic constipation and provide a customized treatment plan to improve your child’s bowel movements. Some of the issues we can help with include:

  • Difficult, painful or infrequent stooling
  • Potty-training difficulties
  • Abdominal pain with constipation
  • Encopresis (when constipation causes soiling)

Diagnosing and treating constipation

The doctor or nurse practitioner will first do a physical exam and get a medical history. Testing isn’t always necessary to diagnosis chronic constipation, but occasionally, your child's physician may want to perform diagnostic tests to determine if there are any other problems causing your child’s constipation. These tests could include blood tests to screen for common bowel and digestive disorders; an abdominal X-ray to evaluate the amount of stool in the large intestine; a lower GI series to look for structural abnormalities; anorectal manometry to measure the strength of related muscles and nerve reflexes; and biopsy to examine the cells in the rectum for any problems.

Treatment can be as simple as increasing your child’s fiber, water intake and physical activity. Get more tips on good sources of fiber and other ways to improve your child’s constipation.

If the problem is long-standing or involves behavioral issues, some children might be referred to a psychologist for biofeedback and/or cognitive behavior therapy. More severe cases of chronic intractable constipation may require additional treatment methods.