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Talking to your Doctor

Preparing for Your Appointment

If your child's constipation lasts longer than two weeks, you'll likely first seek medical care from your child's doctor. If necessary, your child may be referred to a digestive disorders specialist (gastroenterologist).

Due to brief appointment times, the amount of information to cover with the doctor and the discomfort of your child, it is important to be well prepared. Listed below are helpful tips and some information to help you prepare for the appointment and what to expect from your doctor.

General Questions to Ask About Your Appointment:

  • What are the regular office hours? If you should have a question outside of office hours, is someone from their office accessible?
  • How far out is the doctor booking appointments?
  • How long should you expect to wait with you child at your scheduled appointment at the office?
  • Is the provider board certified in pediatrics or a different specialty?

Preparing for the Appointment:

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your child's diet.
  • Write down any symptoms your child is experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment. It's also a good idea to write down your child's signs and symptoms. Record the date your child's constipation started and any other coinciding events. Include notes about stool frequency and appearance and any changes you've noticed in stool patterns (frequency, volume, and content), as well as what and how much your child eats and drinks. A bowel care chart can be obtained from DocuSol® Kids.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make note of your child’s weight. If your child has lost any weight or is refusing to eat, bring this to the attention of doctor.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins, or supplements that your child is taking. Let your child's doctor know what steps you've taken to try to treat your child's constipation.
  • Write down questions to ask your child's doctor.

For Constipation in Children, Some Basic Questions to Ask Your Doctor May Include:

  • How do I talk to my child, if they won’t try to have a bowel movement?
  • What's the most likely cause of my child's symptoms?
  • Is it possible my symptoms are caused by another condition?
  • What kinds of tests does my child need?
  • How long might this condition last?
  • What treatments do you recommend?
  • Do I need to make any changes to my child's diet?
  • Should we see a specialist?
  • Which medications are most effective?
  • Can this problem be treated without medication?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me?
  • What websites or parent support groups do you recommend?
  • What over-the-counter medications should I not be giving to my child?
  • How long should I typically wait to schedule a follow-up appointment with the doctor’s office?
  • Inquire about bowel training: Teach your children to go to the bathroom when they have to. Withholding can lead to constipation. This also may be necessary for your elderly patients, if you are caring for them.

What to Expect from Your Doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over points you want to focus more time on.

Your doctor may ask:

  • When did your child first begin experiencing symptoms of constipation?
  • Have your child's symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your child's symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your child's symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to worsen your child's symptoms?
  • Do you see blood with your child's bowel movements, either mixed in with the stool, in the toilet water, or on the toilet paper?
  • Does your child soil his or her underwear?
  • Does your child strain with bowel movements?
  • Does your child have a family history of digestive problems?
  • Has your child started any new medications or changed the dosage of current medications?
  • Can you describe your child's toilet-training experience?
  • Has your child experienced a urinary tract infection?

What You Can Do to Help Your Child While Waiting for Your Doctor’s Appointment

There are several things you can do that might help relieve your child's constipation before your doctor's appointment, for example:

  • Give your child prune juice. Prune juice can be mixed with other juices (such as apple juice) if your child doesn't like the taste. It's also important to make sure toddlers and older children are drinking a sufficient amount of Check with your pediatrician’s office to ensure you aren’t giving too much juice, as it may cause bloating and more pain.
  • Cut back on constipating foods. Give toddlers and older children fewer foods that might lead to constipation, such as milk and cheese.
  • If possible, take your child for a walk or run. Regular physical activity can encourage bowel movements.
  • Ease up on toilet training. If you suspect that toilet training may be playing a role in your child's constipation, take a break from toilet training for a bit to see if the constipation improves.
  • Inquire about the usage of DocuSol® Kids.
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