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In the interest of full disclosure, here's what it took to disimpact Ryan during the first stage of treatment. We began giving a daily dose of MiraLax mixed in with his orange juice in the morning. Also on day 1, we gave him a square of chocolate Ex-Lax by mouth. On day 2, one that will live in infamy, we gave him a Fleet enema. (He hated it, we hated giving it, and many pediatricians think enemas aren't worth it.) On day 3, we gave him some Dulcolax by mouth. We repeated this three-day cycle a few times, and suffice it to say the first weeks were hell. But things began moving along (often in near-bucketfuls of his little potty).
Once the first phase was done, we continued to give him a daily dose of MiraLax with his morning juice. The goal was to get him to have a daily soft poop, and it worked. Incredibly, within three weeks, Ryan was a different kid: He was sleeping through the night again, eating more, and interested in using the potty on his own. It's been six months, and he is still taking the MiraLax (many kids require it for months, if not years). According to a 2006 study in Pediatrics, two-thirds of children who took MiraLax for a year substantially improved, and a third were fully cured of constipation. We've tried to bulk up the fiber in his diet, too, but that's still an uphill battle.
The lesson: Constipation is common and incredibly hard on kids and parents. But with the right discipline and medical treatment—often for months—it can get better. And you and your kids can get your lives back on track.
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Darshak Sanghavi, MD, is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the author of A Map of the Child: A Pediatrician's Tour of the Body. He can be reached at DarshakSanghavi.com.