What is Constipation?

Constipation refers to stools which are hard, dry or difficult to pass. This can make toileting uncomfortable, or make you delay or avoid using the bathroom.

Sometimes, loose stool will pass around the hard stool which is stuck. We say someone is constipated when they have one of these signs:

  • Passing stool fewer than 3 times a week
  • Stools that are hard, dry and small which are difficult to pass
  • An X-ray full of stool gives a picture of constipation

What Causes Constipation?

People who have Myhre syndrome have lower muscle tone. This can make it harder to pass stool. Constipation can occur for many other reasons which may include:

  • Diet that is low in fiber
  • Lack of exercise
  • Certain medications
  • Ignoring the urge to pass stool
  • Other medical conditions like celiac disease or untreated thyroid disease
  • The spectrum of autism

What are the Symptoms of Constipation?

Constipation makes most people feel uncomfortable. For example:

  • Feeling full or bloated
  • Feeling pain when passing stool
  • Having to push hard when passing stool
  • Noticing a little blood on the toilet paper from straining to pass stool
  • Having accidents with loose or watery stool
  • Abdominal pain, reduced appetite, nausea or vomiting

How Can I Ease Constipation?

  • Eat foods that are high in fiber
  • Keep moving, exercise
  • “Listen to your body” and do not ignore the urge to pass stool. Parents have to watch their children for these signs (getting fidgety).
  • Talk to teachers about bathroom use
  • Review your medications with your doctor to see if any of them cause constipation
  • Discuss with a gastroenterologist (GI specialist)

If you or your child are constipated, ask your doctor about an initial clean-out. This means taking medication to ease constipation. Talk to the doctor before starting an initial clean-out.

Rev. 4/2019. MGH and MGHfC do not endorse any of the brands on this handout. This document is intended to provide health related information so that you may be better informed. It is not a substitute for a doctor's medical advice and should not be relied upon for treatment for specific medical conditions.