Constipation in most people's minds is a problem associated with the geriatric generation.
But researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center have found that more children are dealing with more serious and chronic bouts of the condition.
The researchers attribute the problem to kids who don't get enough exercise, don't drink enough water and don't have enough fiber in their diets.
The children's center will open a clinic this month to help provide medical and behavioral therapy for children with constipation.
Doctors don't know just how many kids suffer from the ailment, but said they have seen a 30-percent increase in related visits from 2008 to 2009. It's also unclear if it is a new problem or if children weren't diagnosed early enough and, therefore, didn't get the right treatment.
Young children often aren't diagnosed or people believe the condition will ago away on its own. Simply changing a child's diet isn't enough to treat the disease.
Signs of severe constipation are abdominal bloating and a feeling of fullness, straining with bowel movements, and lumpy or hard stools or small pellet-like stools. These symptoms are often accompanied by a sensation of incomplete emptying of the bowel.
Children may also refuse to go to the toilet or want to go in a private place. They may soil their underwear or wet the bed.
Constipation develops over time and often begins when kids hold back bowel movements, the researchers said. Holding the stool disrupts the brain colon signaling mechanism that tells a child when he or she needs to use the bathroom.
Chronic constipation may impact a child's quality of life, research has shown. Many will continue to have the condition as an adult.
Treatment includes taking osmotic products which come in a powder form and work by increasing the amount of water in the colon to promote bowel movements. Parents can also make sure the child drinks plenty of water, exercises and eats high-fiber foods.
When using the bathroom children should have their legs propped on a stool or box with their knees at right angles to make it easier to let out a bowl movement.