When you're constipated, passing stools becomes more difficult and less frequent than usual.
Normal bowel habits vary from person to person. Some adults go to the toilet more than once a day, whereas others may only go every three or four days. Similarly, some infants pass stools several times a day, while others only pass them a few times a week.
If you or your child pass stools less than usual, it could be a sign of constipation.
It may also be more difficult to pass stools and you may feel unable to empty your bowelcompletely. Your stools may appear dry, hard and lumpy, as well as abnormally large or small.
Other symptoms of constipation can include:
As well as infrequent or irregular bowel movements, a child with constipation may also have any of the following symptoms:
You may be able to treat constipation yourself by making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. However, you should see your GP if these changes don't help.
You should also see your GP for advice if you notice any rectal bleeding , unexplained weight loss or persistent tiredness .
Take your child to see your GP if you think they are constipated. Laxatives are often recommended for children alongside diet and lifestyle changes.
Constipation is a common condition that affects people of all ages. It can mean that you're not passing stools regularly or you're unable to completely empty your bowel.
When you're constipated, passing stools becomes more difficult and less frequent than usual. Normal bowel habits vary from person to person.
Constipation usually occurs when stools remain in the colon (large intestine) for too long, and the colon absorbs too much water from the stools, causing them to become hard and dry.
Constipation is a very common condition. Your GP won't usually need to carry out any tests or procedures, but will confirm a diagnosis based on your symptoms and medical history.
Read about self-help measures for treating constipation, such as changes to diet and lifestyle. If these don't work, laxatives can usually relieve the problem.
Constipation rarely causes any complications or long-term health problems. Treatment is usually effective, particularly if it's started promptly.