If home treatment for constipation hasn’t helped, your child may need to see a gastroenterologist at the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital Center for Digestive Health and Nutrition to look for an underlying cause. Constipation often results from poor diet, being inactive and not drinking enough fluids. With this in mind, your child’s doctor will ask about their diet and lifestyle habits, including physical activity and any medications or supplements, since some of these can also contribute to constipation.


Diagnosing constipation in children involves a thorough assessment which includes:


  1. Medical History: Reviewing the child's bowel habits, diet, fluid intake, physical activity and any recent changes in routine or stress levels.
  2. Physical Examination: Includes an abdominal and possibly a rectal exam to feel for stool masses. Your doctor may also look for signs of dehydration and check your child’s abdomen for tenderness or swelling.
  3. Diagnostic Tests: Usually reserved for persistent cases
    • X-rays: To detect stool accumulation in the intestines.

    • Blood tests: To rule out metabolic or endocrine disorders.


In many cases, especially in older children, constipation develops when they avoid going to the bathroom. This can happen when kids don’t want to stop playing, or when they start school and find that the toilet is less private. Emotional problems lead a few children to withhold stool. Your child’s doctor may ask questions to determine if any of these issues are contributing to constipation. In some cases, imaging or lab tests may be needed to check for signs of an underlying condition.