Go to top of page

Constipation and dehydration

Studies show that up to 80% of Australians are dehydrated (from Waterlogic Australia).

Constipation and dehydration are not only linked as the cause of many illnesses, but can also be the cause of challenging behaviour in children.

Constipation and dehydration is known to affect individuals by:

  • increasing fatigue
  • reducing memory
  • making concentration difficult
  • increasing behaviours that mimic ADD/ADHD.

Drinking enough water

Water accounts for almost 60% of body weight in children and 78% of brain volume (from McIlwain and Bachelard, 1985).

A 2% drop in a child or young person’s body water can trigger:

  • fuzzy short-term memory loss
  • trouble with basic maths
  • difficulty focusing
  • fatigue and yawning
  • erratic and moody behaviour
  • constipation
  • aches and pains unrelated to an injury or infection
  • cravings of sugar, sweets and caffeine.

We have two organs in our bodies that are designed to preserve water.

  • kidneys: pulls filtered water from the urine and returns it to circulation
  • colon, whose main role is to reabsorb water.

Dehydration can be one reason for a decreased number of bowel movements and stools that are harder, more dense and drier. For many children with constipation, increasing their intake of water significantly helps the problem.

To support wellbeing in education and care services, the department promotes free access to water and encourages the display and discussion of the urine colour chart and Bristol stool chart.


Disability and complex needs team

Phone: 8226 0515
Email: education.health [at] sa.gov.au