Thursday, March 20, 2014

Clearing up constipation for less irritability in low-toned kids

A common problem in low muscle-toned kids is constipation. For years, my son has suffered with constipation and still does. Lately, it has been way lessened due to dietary changes.

I never realized before that constipation does not mean "no bowel movements". So, when asked by doctors if he was constipated, I would say answer "no". I didn't realize he was experiencing cumulative constipation, and passing of small bowel movements was a sign of this.

Doctors showed me how to feel on my son's belly while he is laying flat on the floor. While feeling on his left side, they directed me to take a feel just below his hip. It felt like a bag of hard marbles was under the skin. This was hard stool waiting to be evacuated. I was told to buy a pediatric enema at once and administer once a day until he produced large stools. The enema worked right away.

Constipation can mean small bowel movements, which aren't giving relief. It can also mean, hard to pass stools. For my son, this lead to inconsolable crying and high irritability. Andy is non-verbal, so he can't tell me that his stomach hurts. However, I could see that he was straining to go, and making grunting noises and crying with his legs bent up to his chest.

Here are some tips on what I do now to manage his constipation:

Try to mimic movements: For my son, I have to get him standing several times a day. I may bounce him around on his bed, or on my knee. He enjoys the motion. I also try to get him into a crawling position, which is good for passing gas and building up bowel pressure. I lay him on his back and bend his knees and straighten out his leg again, doing a bicycle motion with his legs. This helps the bowels to move through.

Introduce more fruits and veggies: I have slowly added healthy snacks to his diet, such as fresh pineapple. I buy it already skinned and I cut it up. He ate a half a cupful the other day, and he was moving his bowels in no time shortly after. The acidity of the pineapple really gets the bowels moving as well.

Introduce fiber: I was instructed by a physician's assistant that you have to add fiber very slowly, as well as fruits and veggies. She said that slamming a bunch of fiber into your body can make you miserable with bloating. I found this to be true when eating part of a fiber bar. She told me that you might have to cut up the fiber bar into small pieces and just eat a small amount each day for a week. During the week following, you can try to add a small bit more. This will allow your intestines to get used to this new fiber coming in and manage it. Since Andy is non-verbal, I have to look at his cues to see if he is in any discomfort from the foods I'm giving him.

Use stool softeners as directed by a doctor: For my son, he requires stool softener once a day in cold water. I give it to him at lunch time with his meal when he is quite thirsty. This way he drinks it all at once.

Offer plenty of water and juice: I have to push for Andy to drink water, because he will not reach up and grab for a drink himself. I was told to offer grape or apple juice in the morning and get it out of the way early. The juice helps the bowels to get moving. Then I continue to offer more water, and the water with stool softener in it once a day. Water is very important to not creating a hard to move stool problem.

Last but not least, enjoy being more healthy! Watching over Andy's eating habits has helped me to eat and feel better too. I can tell that I've executed a job well done when he is is happy and cheerful more often than irritable.

You will find what works best for your child as you monitor and change their diet. Some things that work wonders for some people might not do anything for you or your child. You just have to keep trying different things and stick with what works best for you. I also consult with a doctor, when I feel that Andy's stomach may be bothering him, and I have been unable to help him.

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