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Constipation tests & diagnosis for children

Tests are not normally needed to diagnose constipation. Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions about your child's bowel habits and diet, and examine your child. By feeling your child's tummy your doctor can tell if your child has faecal impaction (where a very large poo gets stuck in the bowel). The doctor may look at your child's anus to check there are no small splits or tears which may cause bleeding and make it painful for your child to pass a poo.

Your doctor may also check that there is no underlying disease or condition that might be causing your child's constipation.

If your child has constipation, your general practice team can provide advice about general lifestyle measures to help manage and prevent further constipation. If necessary, they will prescribe medications for your child. In some cases your child might need to be referred to specialists at Christchurch Hospital Child Health Services or other agencies.

The Bristol stool chart provides a visual guide to stool (poo). It's a good way of being able to describe the poos to your doctor.

On the next page: Looking after a child who has constipation

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2017. Last updated July 2018.

Page reference: 35804

Review key: HICOC-14683