We all know how uncomfortable and painful constipation can be, so every parent wants to help relieve their child’s constipation as quickly and safely as they can.
But with all of the choices out there, how does a parent decide which constipation treatment is best for their child? As with all health conditions, it’s always important to consult a doctor or pediatrician to get more informed about your child’s particular situation, but we will provide an overview of constipation medications we hope will be useful in getting a general sense of which are safest and most effective for children.
Different Types of Constipation Medications for Children
Constipation medications can be broken down into the following general categories:
Stool Softeners: Stool softeners are oral or rectal, and work by drawing water into the bowel from surrounding body tissues, replicating a normal bowel stimulus and softening stool. Because stool softeners increase the amount of moisture in the stool, it allows for a more comfortable bowel movement, one that should not require straining. Oral stool softeners can take 12 – 72 hours to be effective; DocuSol® Kids (rectal) works within 2 – 15 minutes.
Hyperosmotic Laxatives: These laxatives increase the amount of water in the intestines to allow easier passage of stool, and may be taken orally or rectally.
Stimulant Laxatives: These can be administered orally or rectally, and work by stimulating the rectal muscles, activating them to push stool out.
Lubricant Laxatives: These are taken orally or rectally, and work by coating stool in a lubricant, making it slippery and easier to pass.
Ingredients Found in Stool Softeners & Laxatives
- Stool Softeners: docusate sodium and docusate calcium
- Lubricant Laxative: mineral oil
- Stimulant Laxative: bisacodyl and sennosides
- Osmotic Laxatives: polyethylene glycol and glycerin
Which Laxative or Stool Softener to Use for Children, and When
So, how do you know which constipation solution to use for your child, and when?
There isn’t a straightforward answer to this question, because each situation is different, but here is a general breakdown of what each type of laxative is used for and how safe it is for children. Always consult your healthcare provider for making the best recommendations for your child. When making a choice of which laxative is right for your child, especially with young children, how the medication is administered is also important to consider. Oral laxatives generally take hours (sometimes days) to produce results. Rectal enemas and suppositories can provide more immediate relief.
Stool Softeners: Stool softeners are effective when your child experiences mild or occasional constipation, are considered safe for children and have few (if any) side effects.
Hyperosmotic Laxatives are gentle, mild, and considered safe for use with children. They are more effective if your child increases their fluid intake to increase hydration in the digestive system.
Lubricant Laxatives can be effective for short-term constipation but are not considered suitable for long-term use. Note: do not use mineral oil in conjunction with docusate stool softeners.
Stimulant Laxatives are an option for fast relief from painful constipation, but due to the uncomfortable side-effects are not the first choice for children.
Typically, stool softeners and hyperosmotic laxatives are the first-line constipation medications used for treating short and moderate constipation in healthy children. Glycerin suppositories can be safely used in infants and children but should be used as tolerated by the child.
Stimulant laxatives, such as senna and bisacodyl, are usually reserved for children with more severe constipation who do not respond to high-fiber diets and osmotic laxatives. Because stimulant laxatives may cause cramping, dehydration, and fluid and electrolyte imbalances, these uncomfortable side-effects make them less ideal for children and are not intended for moderate or long-term use.
DocuSol® Kids Can Help!
DocuSol® Kids is a first-of-its-kind, mini enema with a non-irritating formula that functions as a stool-softening, hyperosmotic laxative by drawing water into the bowel from surrounding body tissues, replicating a normal bowel movement. This unique formulation provides children ages 2–12 fast, predictable relief of constipation within 2 – 15 minutes.
DocuSol® Kids was designed for easy use at home. The DocuSol® Kids tube is designed to offer a minimally invasive, soft, and flexible tip, avoiding any scratching or irritation to the skin. Just a 5-milliliter tube delivering 100mg of docusate sodium, the medication provides fast relief in just a few, easy steps!
Disclaimer: The material contained is for reference purposes only. Alliance Labs, LLC and Summit Pharmaceuticals do not assume responsibility for patient care. Consult a physician prior to use. Copyright 2020 Summit Pharmaceuticals and Alliance Labs, LLC.