Gastroenterologist (Pediatric) Questions Dehydration

Can dehydration be a cause of constipation?

My daughter is 9-years-old and has been constipated for a few days. I know that she doesn't drink enough water, and she doesn't have the greatest diet (my husband gets her whatever junk food she wants). Could dehydration and her diet cause this?

5 Answers

Your instincts are correct. Inadequate water intake and a poor diet can lead to constipation. Your child should drink water that is equal to half their weight in pounds daily. For example, if your should weights 60 lbs they need to drink 30 ounces of water per day.
Lack of water, fiber in diet can definitely be a cause of constipation. Including fresh fruits and vegetables, at least 5 servings a day, and decreasing the amount of processed foods can help with a healthy bowel regimen.
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Yes, and for children, diet and hydration are usually the #1 cause for constipation. Many children lack a significant amount of fiber in their diet, as this helps regulate their intestines and keep them stooling normally. But water is a very important part of this as it helps to keep the stools soft and lubricate them to ease in defecation.
Adequate fluid intake daily helps good gastrointestinal health. Good oral hydration and fiber intake daily will help prevent constipation.
Constipation is the result of lots of different factors. Part of it is taking enough water in to meet your bodies needs. The intestines will try to absorb as much water as possible if you take in enough and that leads to constipation. Food choices are also a big factor. Foods that are high in fiber (fruits and veggies) help keep some water in the intestines and result in softer stools.

Mark R. Corkins, M.D.