Need to Poop, Stat 911 (for a kid)
February 17, 2009 7:24 PM   Subscribe

Help me help my constipated Kid!

Here's the quick and dirty; kid (10) broke his arm and has had a LOT of pain medication before during and after surgery.

Now he needs to poo and can't.

Any over the counter or hopefully Home remedies would be greatly appreciated! Fruit? Veggies? Water laced with soy sauce?

Many thanks in advance!
posted by snsranch to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would try more fruits, veggies, and water first. But the Kellogg's Fiber water also worked well for me once.
posted by at 7:26 PM on February 17, 2009

Milk of magnesia, your doctor would say, I bet. Safe, effective, tastes awful: classic medicine.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:28 PM on February 17, 2009

Karo syrup.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:28 PM on February 17, 2009

An over-the-counter stool softener (make sure it's a mild one that specifically says it's okay for kids) always did the trick when my kids were constipated. That, and sitting on the toilet reading an interesting book and relaxing (i.e. not trying to force anything to happen).
posted by amyms at 7:28 PM on February 17, 2009

Have him sit in a hot bath. This works on little ones, I expect it'd work here as well. Failing, an enema? One of those disposable Fleet ones? Otherwise, the usual: lots of water, a decent amount of fiber and don't rush things or strain. Last thing he needs is a hemorrhoid. Maybe a stool softener as well? You can get that OTC.
posted by jquinby at 7:28 PM on February 17, 2009

If lots of water, plus fruit, and maybe some bran or oatmeal doesn't work, children respond well to suppositiories. Your pharmacist can help you find what you need.
posted by theora55 at 7:31 PM on February 17, 2009

Epsom salts can be a pretty painless fast-acting laxative if you have any around.
posted by jessamyn at 7:31 PM on February 17, 2009

When my kid was an infant prune juice worked like a charm. For ongoing maintenance supplemental fiber (Metamucil) helped a lot when I was on opiates for a while following surgery.
posted by nanojath at 7:32 PM on February 17, 2009

Countess Elena is right was well, Milk of Magnesia is pretty tried and true, if unpleasant.
posted by nanojath at 7:33 PM on February 17, 2009

Dried cherries, apricots, actually several fruits are good, safe, easy ways to get a kid to poop. I would expect he'd take to those faster than the Milk of Magnesia... FYI, I use dried fruit in winter and regular fruit in summer and it DOES work. Probably the same cost as most laxative-type meds anyway.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:47 PM on February 17, 2009


Kids as young as 2 can take it. In pharmacy school we were told that when elderly patients come in to the pharmacy with a new prescription for drugs like Percocet or Vicodin we should automatically recommend they get some Senokot at the same time.

Narcotics slow the bowel down, senna laxatives speed things back up. It's a great laxative for this problem - the reason the pain meds are causing constipation is that they are causing transit thru the large intestine to slow down. This gives the large intestine more time to reabsorb water from the stool, thus turning it into a brick. Senna is going to get the train moving again, so to speak. Good luck!
posted by selfmedicating at 7:49 PM on February 17, 2009

Seconding Senokot, as a opiate enthusiast myself who occasionally encounters this, er, problem. Specifically Senokot S. I think it was only recently made OTC, and used to be prescribed to pain patients and the like who have to take opiates regularly in order to prevent the ol' adobe brick syndrome. It doesn't work right away, but usually will clear things up overnight. Another option is Milk of Magnesia. It works quicker, but will sometimes take things from a dead stop to, shall we say, the Autobahn. Then there's the nuclear option: magnesium citrate. It comes in little green glass bottles and tastes like salty Sprite. A few hours after taking it, whatever is stuck up there will come blasting out with the force of a gunshot. It can't be described as anything close to "gentle", though.

Also, most people can go for up to two weeks without a dump before there's a real risk of impaction or other serious problems. A couple days is no big deal.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:05 PM on February 17, 2009

I have Crohn's disease, which comes with fairly regular constipation. Miralax was recommended to me by my GI doctor. It is over the counter. It takes a day or two to work, but its gentler since there are no stimulants, so no cramping or urgency. I'm not clear how it works but it has something to do with bringing water in to increase volume and reduce hardness of the stool. It dissolves into drinks like juice with no grainyness, so its easy to take. I'm not sure if its kid safe, but they told me I could use it more than the recommended once a day dose if i had continued problems. I bet a pediatrician could advise if its okay.

Also, i found an exercise online that helps me a lot. You bend your body over while you're on the toilet, leaning first to one knee, so diagonally. Stay like that for thirty seconds, then lean to the other knee. Alternate that for a while. I guess it relaxes the right muscles, I always find it helps when I get backed up. There are other ones out there, but this is the one I found most helpful, and not effortfull at all.
posted by gilsonal at 8:13 PM on February 17, 2009

As a kid, we got a little can of apricot nectar while we were still sitting on the, er, can. Usually worked in about 15 minutes and it tastes pretty darn good.
posted by AuntLisa at 8:16 PM on February 17, 2009

I'll second the prunes. My mom gave me the dried variety when I was young. It seemed to do the trick.
posted by fishtree at 8:31 PM on February 17, 2009

Colace. Available over the counter. Docs give it with the narcotic analgesics.
posted by boeing82 at 8:51 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

You don't say how desperate the situation is. If he can wait 12 to 36 hours the suggestions above are good...particularly the bottled, yucky tasting ones. If he is intensely uncomfortable, as I was recently after days on heavy pain meds due to a back injury, I recommend a pack of Fleet enemas...embarrassing for sure, as he'd need an adult's assistance, since his arm is broken. ; (
but if he adheres strictly to the directions after application (at least 15 minutes, more if he can wait more) the result may be difficult and intense, but the whole issue will be done and over with in under 30 minutes. Fleet enemas are generally sold in packs of 2 so reapply if he is unable to wait long enough on the first application.
If he has to continue on pain meds, the gentle laxative might be good to use according to box dosage while he's on the meds. Really, this experience can be murder and I'm so sorry your son is going through this on top of the pain he's had from his injury.

posted by mumstheword at 9:10 PM on February 17, 2009

Once I went on a hike with some friends and ate a whole bag of dried fruit (apricots, prunes, apples, pears, etc), not a big bag mind you, but probably 6-10 ozs. I barely made it home in time before my butt pretty much exploded. This was not the intended consequence for me, but I imagine it could do the trick here.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:23 PM on February 17, 2009

A glass of cherry juice works like a charm, and doesn't taste as bad (to me) as prune juice. Hope everything, uhm, comes out ok.
posted by nadise at 9:34 PM on February 17, 2009

If he actually has feces in his colon right now that he can't get out - don't give him any laxatives or food like prunes, etc, until AFTER he has gone. Otherwise, you'll just create more pressure above the blockage, and that can lead to some serious pain. In those situations, use rectal suppository first. It's over the counter, and perfectly safe for kids, certainly by 10. That said, being 10, he will be embarressed by having to insert it, but discomfort will get him over that (and it can be done one handed). It's simpler than an enema, but very effective. (I am so old now - I can discuss rectal suppositories in public with my only thought being how helpful they can be.)

After he has gotten the blockage out, you can start all the preventative/laxative stuff to keep the system going. If he likes the taste of coffee, the black wonder-drug is surprisingly effective at keeping one regular. But obviously far less healthy than prunes and fresh fruit.
posted by jb at 10:19 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding suppositories. Generic glycerin suppositories are what is used in my family. They work in seconds to minutes, be ready to run to the toilet.
posted by dirty lies at 11:44 PM on February 17, 2009

jb sounds like he knows what he's talking about re: waiting on the prunes et al; but what I can second is that if it's not the uh-oh feces in the colon scenario he's warned you about, that prunes have worked really well for my family....
posted by demagogue at 11:58 PM on February 17, 2009

When I was around that age & having the same issues, my doctor instructed my folks to give me a nightly tablespoon of mineral oil. It was gross (flavorless really, but the texture of oil made me want to gag), but it worked.
posted by katemcd at 1:48 AM on February 18, 2009

Sometimes caffeine has this effect on me, but only when I'm not used to it. Green tea is recommended in that case; it only has a little caffeine.
posted by amtho at 2:55 AM on February 18, 2009

Late to the discussion, but do skim's medically-reviewed article on constipation. It includes this info:

"Give your child more fluids. Drinking enough water and other liquids helps stools move more easily through the intestines. The amount of fluids kids need will vary according to weight and age. But most school-age children need 3 to 4 glasses of water each day. If your infant is constipated during the transition from breast milk or into solid foods, try serving just a few ounces of prune juice each day. If the constipation persists or is causing your child distress, it may be due to a health problem, so call your doctor.

"Serve more fiber. Foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread, can help prevent constipation. Fiber can't be digested, so it helps clean out the intestines by moving the bowels along, while a diet full of fatty, sugary, or starchy foods can slow the bowels down. Fiber doesn't have to be a turn-off for kids: Try apples, oatmeal, oranges, bananas, baked potatoes, and popcorn."

Good luck. Hope he's doing better.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:20 AM on February 18, 2009

Miralax! My 4yo had horrible, horrible problems for months. Milk of magnesia stopped working, the prunes didn't work, the fruit juices did nothing. Finally Miralax did the trick. It used to be by prescription only, but you can get it at any pharmacy or Target now. It's in a purple and white bottle. It's powder that you mix with whatever juice, etc. that your kiddo likes to drink. It's not necessarily the cheapest (a small bottle is about $8), but it has saved the day on more than one occasion.

I took it after some abdominal surgery. It definitely works and you really don't even taste it.

Otherwise, have you tried getting him to eat a huge bowl of popcorn? That usually does the trick around here. :)

Hope his arm feels better soon!
posted by dancinglamb at 6:34 AM on February 18, 2009

Oops, I missed gilsonal's post about Miralax. Yes, it's absolutely safe for kids. My Ped recommended it, and I know several other Moms that have used it for their kiddos for similar issues (specifically potty training-related ones...). Again, good luck!
posted by dancinglamb at 6:38 AM on February 18, 2009

different sugarless candies have laxative effects depending on the sugar substitute.
posted by cda at 6:54 AM on February 18, 2009

Seconding Colace. My wife used it after her Cesarean and it loosened her right up.
posted by EarBucket at 7:18 AM on February 18, 2009

Yep. Prunes.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:46 AM on February 18, 2009

ikkyu2 (we miss you...) posted that mineral oil did the trick nicely. Our doctor recommended flax or fish oil for our own kiddo, and it worked as well.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:21 AM on February 18, 2009

If he's blocked up, start with Fleet to get out the blockage. Horrible, I know, but effective and gentle(ish). Then, 1 tsp. Miralax (in milk or water) to keep things soft until he's regular again. My little guy suffers from constant constipation (from feeding issues), and we give him Miralax every other day. Also, suger free applesauce. Good for both constipation and diarrhea.
posted by Malla at 9:26 AM on February 18, 2009

A "smoothie" made up of equal parts celery, cucumber and pineapple (plus some lime, for taste) (and water of course), works WONDERS for me and has no side effects at all, if you don't want to give your kid more pills or stuff like that.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:56 AM on February 18, 2009

Magnesium Citrate is cheap (usually less than $2.50) and fast. I use it when I need help quickly. The downside is it usually causes some cramps before evacuation, but boy do I feel better after.

I also agree with everyone who has said Miralax. It's really gentle and does the trick in a day or so (in my experience).
posted by geekchic at 11:14 AM on February 18, 2009

THANK YOU MEFITES!!!! He ended up chomping down a little bucket of prunes and actually liked them! Twenty minutes later he was taking care of business.

I can't thank you all enough, we were all pretty freaked out.
posted by snsranch at 5:09 PM on February 18, 2009

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