Signs and symptoms

Constipation can cause:

  • Stomach cramps (the pain tends to come and go).
  • Your child to feel less hungry than usual.
  • Irritable behaviour.
  • Anal fissures (small splits of the skin at the anus/bottom) which cause pain and bleeding at the anus when doing a poo. Straining (pushing hard) to pass a large, hard poo can cause anal fissures.
  • Holding-on behaviour to avoid doing a painful poo, such as squatting, crossing legs or refusing to sit on the toilet.
  • Hard lumps of poo might be felt when pressing the abdomen.

Long-term constipation can cause:

Soiling in pants – your child’s rectum (bottom) may be full of poo for a long time and this makes it become stretched. Your child may not get the urge to go to the toilet because the rectum always feels stretched. The poo can then pass into your child’s pants, without them feeling it. Soiling is medically called encopresis or faecal incontinence.