Information for the public



Some treatments may not be suitable for a child or young person, depending on their exact circumstances. If you have questions about specific treatments and options covered in this information, please talk to a member of your healthcare team.

Your healthcare professional should feel the tummy of the child or young person to see if they have a blockage in the bowel caused by a build-up of poo. This poo must be cleared before the constipation can be treated (this is called disimpaction). To clear it, the child or young person should be offered medicine (called a laxative) that can be mixed with a cold drink. It is important to know that symptoms of soiling and tummy ache can get worse to begin with as the bowel empties.

The child or young person should be seen again within 1 week to check that the medicine has worked. Sometimes the healthcare professional may increase the dose or offer another laxative if the first one hasn't worked.

As soon as the build up of poo has been cleared, you will be offered more of the same medicine for the child or young person to take in a drink. This is to help them get into a regular routine of going to the toilet, and usually takes several weeks or months to work. During this time a healthcare professional should see the child or young person frequently to make sure poo does not build up again.

Questions parents might like to ask their healthcare professional about treatment

  • How much medicine will I have to give my child?

  • What can my child expect when taking the medicine?

  • How long will I need to give my child this medicine?

  • What should I do if my child won't drink enough of the medicine?

  • How might the treatment affect daily life?

  • When and how should I seek further help for my child?

  • What are the effects of taking laxatives for long periods of time?

(Please note that a child or young person may want to ask such questions for themselves.)

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