Toddlers are such a joy to be around with, especially my grand-kids. Always full of life, forever skittering around and bouncing off the walls, constantly curious and teeming with boundless energy, there is never a dull moment. That is why whenever they become quiet or listless; we know something is wrong with them. Diarrhea in toddlers and toddler constipation are the two most common illnesses that are almost always present during growing up. They may not be capable of saying what is wrong with them, they just start to cry whenever these maladies hit. That is why it is of utmost importance that we know how to identify them.
The process of digestion among us human beings starts when we swallow our food through our mouths. Enzymes are then mixed with the food as we chew them. A process called peristalsis, which contracts and relaxes our gastrointestinal muscles in a downward motion, directs the food down to our stomachs and then to our intestines. It is there in the large and small intestines that our body absorbs the nutrients of the food, leaving the waste products to be later expelled as stools. It is in the absorption of nutrients that the two disorders have their differences.
Constipation is an illness wherein our body passes stool in longer intervals, about only 2 to 3 times a week, and the stool that is produced by the body is often hard and compact. Toddlers with constipation are pained and often struggle releasing their stool. In constipation, peristalsis is somehow slowed down; the food is kept at the large intestines much longer than normal, making the body absorb much more liquid from the food we eat. The body’s lack of fiber from food is the common cause of constipation. In toddlers, the usual symptoms of constipation are:
- The child has a constant stomach ache
- Bloating of the body and often times the child is nauseous
- Irritability and the unwillingness to eat
- Crying during stool passing, presence of blood in stool
- Hard stools. Sometimes pellet like in form, sometimes hard and chunky
Diarrhea on the other hand is an illness wherein we pass stool multiple times in a day. Usually the stool that is passed is watery in nature and is sometimes accompanied by mucous. In diarrhea, peristalsis goes into overdrive so that the intestines hardly have time to absorb the nutrients in the food. Diarrhea occurs when our intestines are irritated and is usually caused by either infection, food poisoning or the taking of medication; another cause of diarrhea is irritable bowel syndrome. Diarrhea in toddlers is very dangerous and must be treated quickly as the child’s condition gets downhill really fast when he is dehydrated. Common signs of a toddler with diarrhea are:
- Watery consistency of stool and the frequent passing of it
- Dark color and small amount of urine due to the depletion of water in the body
- Low grade fever, nausea and dizziness
- Malaise and lacking of energy
- Drying of skin and the absence of tears when crying
- Cramping of the stomach
Diarrhea and constipation in toddlers are serious afflictions and must not be taken lightly. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of each one, enables us to know the necessary steps we must take in dealing with them. We must always be aware of the state of health that our children are in, because it is up to us if they will be safe. Their lives depend on it.