“My tummy hurts” or “my belly aches” are the two most common complaints in any house with little children. Stomach ache in kids usually come and go, but can be a matter of concern if it tends to persist. If a child frequently complains of stomach ache, parents must not hesitate in visiting a doctor. Recurring or chronic stomach aches can disrupt the growth and development of a child and interfere with their day-to-day life.
Stomach aches could be an indication of an underlying digestive condition or disorder. More often than not, these digestive issues share some common symptoms such as stomach ache, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, bloating or blood in the stool. If a child presents one or more of these symptoms, it’s best to seek medical counsel so a proper diagnosis can be made. Below are some of the,
Most Common Digestive Disorders in Kids
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a group of digestive disorders that causes inflammation in part or all of the intestine. IBD is known to include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis – two major disorders that affect the bowel. Over 1.5 million patients suffer from chronic inflammation of the intestines in India. It usually affects older children or teens. The most common symptoms of IBD are abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating. IBD can stunt a child’s growth or delay the onset of puberty. Over the passage of time, IBD can also destruct the bowel walls leading to narrowing of intestines and sores. Medications along with diet changes can ease the symptoms of IBD.
A child is said to have celiac disease when he is intolerant to gluten, a type of protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Because of this disorder, their immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the lining of their small intestine. As a result, preventing their body from absorbing valuable nutrients and causing weight loss. The most common symptoms are stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhoea, bloating and constipation. By following a strict gluten-free diet, celiac disease can be treated and the damage already done to the intestine lining can be healed.
Some kids’ bodies are unable to break down or process lactose, a naturally occurring sugar in milk and other dairy products. This is because their bodies lack an enzyme needed for breaking down lactose. As a result, they become lactose intolerant and are unable to digest milk and dairy products. These children may present symptoms like diarrhoea, stomach cramps, gas or bloating after consuming dairy products. Fortunately, lactose intolerance can be treated by either not consuming dairy products or taking enzyme supplements to help break down the lactose in dairy products.
Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders
A prevalent digestive disorder among kids is eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorder (EGID). It is caused by a surplus or collection of white blood cells in the child’s digestive tract. As a result of the inflammation and swelling in the tract, the child may experience trouble swallowing, pain, nausea and vomiting. There is no absolute cure for EGID, but certain medications can lower the number of white blood cells in the gut and ease the symptoms. Since EGID is often caused by allergic reactions to certain foods, the doctor may advise some changes in the diet.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
A common intestinal disorder, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indicates a problem in the intestine or bowel. It is a chronic condition that causes disruption in bowel movements and leads to loose and frequent bowel movements, stomach pain, diarrhoea and gas. The doctor may need to identify what triggers IBS in the child. IBS can be treated with specific dietary changes, medications or probiotics.
The formative years in a child’s life are crucial for the rest of his life to be healthy and happy. By identifying these symptoms and timely diagnosing these digestive disorders or conditions in children, parents can ensure that their child’s growth and development are not disrupted. If these symptoms persist in a child and interfere with their routine activities, it is best to visit a doctor at the earliest. No child’s childhood should pass clutching his stomach or crying in pain; these are their years for playing and enjoying.
Also, Read: Diet of Kids with Cystic Fibrosis