Teenager's death sheds light into the shocking dangers of constipation

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Dr. Amanda Jeffery, a pathologist, said her symptoms were in keeping with a condition known as ‘stool withholding’, which is more frequent in children

For most parents, constipation in their children is a trivial matter. They usually just buy some medicine or give their children food that's rich in fiber to help out their kids with constipation.

For the Titterington family however, the death of their beloved Emily came as a shock since she died due to cardiac arrest brought about by her chronic constipation.

She was afraid of toilets

Emily was midly autistic, and she had a phobia of using toilets. She would often hold her stool for up to two months, and this eventually caused her bowels to grow so large that it compressed her chest cavity and displaced her other organs.

Dr Amanda Jeffery, a pathologist, said her symptoms were in keeping with a condition known as ‘stool withholding’, which is more frequent in children.


According to her doctor, Dr. Alistair James, Emily's mother had struggled in persuading Emily to get examined. He also added that he prescribed her laxatives, but was unable to examine her abdomen since she kept refusing.

Emily collapsed at her home on back in February 8, 2013. Paramedics attempted to revive her, but she was pronounced dead later in the hospital. According to one of the paramedics that responded to Emily's case, "I could see that her abdomen was grossly extended. Her lower ribs had been pushed out further than her pubic bone — I was shocked."


While Emily's case might be an isolated incident, it's still important to understand that constipation can be a very serious problem if not addressed. Steve Hodges, M.D. recommends the following steps to take if your child has chronic constipation:

Encourage physical activity - Physical activity also has a lot to do with making sure your digestion is on track. Keeping your children active not only helps them get stronger, but it also speeds up the movement of food in their digestive track which can ensure regular stool.

Encourage eating whole foods - Constipation is in part, caused by the food that we eat. Make sure that your child has a good amount of fiber in their diet, and try to avoid heavily processed food as these types of food can cause constipation.

Check their stool - Yup, it's pretty gross, but one way of making sure that your child isn't constipated is by checking their stool. Your child shouldn't be pushing out pellets or log-shaped stool, as these are signs that your child might be constipated, and they should also be defecating on a daily basis.

Enemas - With some advice from your doctor, enemas can be helpful in preventing constipation. Just make sure to talk to your pediatrician about it, and don't do it frequently.

Hopefully, these tips can ensure that your children won't experience constipation, and if they do, you should know what steps to take in order to help them out.

Sources: Parents.com, Medicaldaily.com, DailyMail

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