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Everyone has their own normal bowel habits, which can be quite different from other people's habits.

For example, some adults normally go to the toilet more than once a day, whereas others may normally go only every three or four days. Some infants may normally pass stools several times a day, while others may normally pass stools only a few times a week.

Difficulty passing stools

When you are constipated, you feel that passing stools has become more difficult than it used to be. It may feel more difficult for several reasons. For example, you may be going significantly less frequently, or much less effectively (you feel you are unable to completely empty your bowel).

Passing stools may also seem more difficult because your stools are:

  • dry, hard and lumpy, 
  • abnormally large, or
  • abnormally small.

As well as causing a change in your normal bowel habits, constipation can also cause the following symptoms:

  • stomach ache and cramps,
  • feeling bloated,
  • feeling nauseous, and
  • loss of appetite.


As well as infrequent or irregular bowel movements, a child with constipation may also have the following signs and symptoms:

  • loss of appetite,
  • lack of energy,
  • being irritable, angry or unhappy,
  • foul-smelling wind and stools,
  • abdominal pain and discomfort,
  • soiling their clothes, and
  • generally feeling unwell.

If your child has these symptoms, or has spoken to you about having difficulty passing stools, speak to your GP.

view information about Constipation on www.nhs.co.uk »

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