Cochin Cardiac Club

Health Blog by Dr.Uday Nair


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic digestive condition. IBS affects people of all ages, including children. In children and adolescents, irritable bowel syndrome equally affects girls and boys.

Irritable bowel syndrome is classified as a functional disorder because it is caused by a problem in how the intestines (bowels) work. People, including children, with IBS tend to have overly sensitive intestines that go into muscle spasms in response to foods, gas, and sometimes stress. These spasms may cause pain, diarrhea, and constipation.

Between 5% to 20% of kids have IBS, and about 20% of adults do, too. It's not fun, but the good news is that IBS doesn't lead to more serious problems. It's irritating, but it can be managed and kids can do whatever activities they like in spite of it.


For children with irritable bowel syndrome, symptoms may include one or several of the following:
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Changes in stool patterns, including diarrhea-predominant, constipation-predominant, or a variable stool pattern.
Children with IBS may also have headaches, 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 the symptoms.
No one really knows what causes IBS, although it tends to run in families.
Children with IBS can also have abnormalities in how their intestines contract, called motility, which refers to the rate stool moves through the intestines. Whereas a faster rate of movement may cause diarrhea, a slower rate may result in constipation.

Stress can affect kids with IBS, too. Stress can speed up your colon and slow your stomach down. Stressful feelings also can be a trigger for IBS. Let's say a kid has a big test at school the next day and really worries about it, that's stress. Or if a kid sees his or her parents fighting and begins to feel worried — that's stress, too. A kid in this situation can learn to handle stress in other ways, so IBS symptoms will go away or at least be less severe.
What kids eat can also be a trigger, but this can be different for each kid. For example, a high-fat diet may bother some kids. Drinks high in sugar may cause diarrhea in other kids. Eating big meals and spicy foods often cause problems, so if you have IBS, try to avoid those.
IBS can cause recurring abdominal pain in children. Your child may be diagnosed with IBS if she suffers from abdominal pain plus any two of the following:
  • Bowel movement relieves the pain.
  • Onset of pain is associated with a change in stool frequency.
  • Onset of pain is associated with a change in consistency of stool.
Symptoms present for at least 12 weeks of the preceding 12 months are considered indicative of IBS. Additionally, doctors will rule out any diseases that might cause the same symptoms.
To make a diagnosis of IBS, the doctor asks questions about symptoms and examines the child to rule out more serious problems or diseases. IBS is not a disease, but a syndrome, which just means a group of symptoms that occur together. It doesn't damage the intestine, and in children IBS is treated mainly through changes in diet.

In severe cases, the doctor might give a person some medicine for IBS to reduce pain, as well as help manage gas, constipation, diarrhea, and the need to rush to the bathroom.
The best solution, however, is for a kid to learn what makes the symptoms worse and avoid whatever it is.with his or her parents.
Although each person's food triggers may be a little different, here are some common ones:
  • big meals
  • spicy foods
  • high-fat foods
  • chocolate
  • some dairy products like ice cream or cheese
It's not just what a person eats — what he or she doesn't eat also may lead to IBS symptoms. Fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods like beans and popcorn can help keep a kid's colon running properly. Your doctor might recommend a fiber supplement as well. Drinking water can help a cranky colon, too.
Please Note
The IBS symptoms with children can fluctuate as they grow older. However it is usually present for the at least the initial 5 years when inflicted with this condition and the severity levels may vary between various children.
It is more likely for children to have IBS in high school than they would in middle school. It is equally likely for IBS to affect boys versus girls. 
When a child has IBS, it is important to provide them with the attention that they require. It is a very troublesome condition even in adults so think about having a younger aged individual having to deal with this.Ensure that the children are candid about their symptoms with you and that they fully express their feelings with you. This way you can provide them with the help that they require, whether it would be through daily chores such as cooking meals, cleaning, etc. It is important to provide them with sufficient time to cope with this condition when they are first diagnosed with this condition.

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