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Irritable Bowel Syndrome In Children

Dec 23, 2007
Many people do not realize it, but irritable bowel syndrome can actually also develop in children. Although the condition is not considered as being major or serious in any way, the symptoms that are caused by the condition can be incredibly frustrating and annoying, not to mention embarrassing, especially for children who are even less able to deal with these sorts of things. In children and adolescents, IBS affects girls and boys equally and may be diarrhea-predominant, constipation-predominant, or have a variable stool pattern. Children with IBS may also have headache, nausea, or mucus in the stool. Weight loss may occur if a child eats less to try to avoid pain. Some children first develop symptoms after a stressful event, such as teething, a bout with the flu, or problems at school or at home. Stress does not cause IBS, but it can trigger symptoms.

To diagnose IBS, the doctor will ask questions about symptoms and examine the child to rule out more serious problems or diseases. IBS is not a disease--it is a syndrome, or group of symptoms that occur together. It does not damage the intestine, so if the physical exam and other tests show no sign of disease or damage, the doctor may diagnose IBS. In children, IBS is treated mainly through changes in diet--eating more fiber and less fat to help prevent spasms--and through bowel training to teach the child to empty the bowels at regular, specific times during the day. Medications like laxatives are rarely prescribed because children are more susceptible to addiction than adults. When laxatives are necessary, parents must follow the doctor's instructions carefully. Learning stress management techniques may also help some children.

There is a lot of important information to know when it comes to irritable bowel syndrome in children. For one, it is a digestive disorder that causes abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and similar problems. It is classified as being a functional disorder because it is caused by a problem in the intestines, and it may be a cause of recurring abdominal pain in children. When it comes to the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome in children, a basic diagnosis here will usually be based on the child experiencing abdominal pain and cramping, as well as on any of the following: the pain is relieved after having a bowel movement, the onset of pain is typically associated with a change in stool consistency, and the onset of pain is associated with a change in the frequency of stools.

Although there are many similarities between irritable bowel syndrome in adults and irritable bowel syndrome in children, there are many differences as well. For instance, in order to diagnose the condition the doctor will have to ask questions about the symptoms the child is experiencing and physically examine the child in order to rule out more serious problems and diseases. With the condition of irritable bowel syndrome in children, the attending doctor will usually treat the condition with a change in diet, or at least this will be their first attempt. This includes getting the child to eat more fiber, drink more water, and eat less fatty and greasy foods. Medications are also often recommended, although special care has to be taken here because medications affect children a lot differently than they do adults.

Although the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can usually be relieved or even completely eliminated simply with a change in diet or with medication, if this does not seem to be enough then further steps are going to need to be taken. Hypnosis, yoga, and other relaxation techniques are often used to reduce stress and help relieve the symptoms associated with the condition, for instance.
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