Children who are constipated may be cranky or listless. Your child may also be afraid of using the toilet, since passing stool can be painful with constipation.

Other symptoms include:

  • Straining for a long time during a bowel movement
  • Blood-streaked stools
  • Stool stains in the child’s underwear that may look like diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches

If constipation continues, it can lead to a condition called fecal impaction, which is when stool is packed so tightly that the normal pushing action of the colon can’t move it out of the body. Ongoing constipation can also lead to hemorrhoids or small tears in the anus called anal fissures. In addition, pressure from stool in the colon can push on the urinary tract and block the flow of urine, causing a urinary tract infection.

Call your child’s doctor right away if he or she has bloody stools, vomiting or abdominal pain that doesn’t go away.