IBS in Children

May 27, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
feature image

Finding out your child has been diagnosed with a medical condition can feel overwhelming. After all, you’d move heaven and earth to make sure they’re comfortable and lead a happy life. And, when the condition is chronic — such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — you may be wondering what you can do so that the ailment is the least disruptive as possible. What causes the condition? What’s the best form of treatment? And, is there anything you can do to make things better?

IBS in Children

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic intestinal disorder. It causes the muscles in the bowel to contract, leading to abdominal discomfort. It can initially be difficult to diagnose since, upon inspection, there is no visible indication of damage to the intestines. The condition is just as likely to occur in girls as in boys, and while there is not a known gene that causes the condition, IBS tends to occur more often if one or both of the parents suffer from it.

IBS can be disruptive in patients of any age. But, particularly in children, it can make them want to avoid school, sporting events, or socializing with their friends, since it can be embarrassing to have to go to the bathroom so urgently and so often.

What causes IBS in children?

The exact cause of IBS in children is unknown. However, the incidence is higher in children who’ve had a bacterial infection in the digestive tract or who have experienced stressful life events — such as depression, anxiety, or child abuse. This is due to the way the brain and the gastrointestinal tract interact. IBS could also be the result of a bacterial imbalance in the gut.

IBS Symptoms in Children

Symptoms of IBS in children may vary from one child to the next. However, they typically include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Urgent needs to go to the bathroom
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Mucus in their bowel movements
  • Feeling like their bowel movements aren’t complete

How to Diagnose IBS in Children

Your child’s pediatrician will go over your child’s entire medical history. They will then order several tests that may include x-rays of the abdomen, blood samples, a stool sample, an endoscopy, and/or a colonoscopy.

IBS Treatment for Children

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment will depend on several factors — such as your child’s age, the severity of the condition, and your child’s medical history and tolerance to certain medications. Common treatment options include medications, probiotics, and changes in diet. For example, certain foods may cause IBS symptom flareups, such as dairy, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, foods high in saturated fats, and foods that may cause gas — such as beans and cruciferous vegetables. Eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large meals can also be helpful. If the condition is caused by stress, the child may also be referred to psychological therapy or stress management.

IBS Complications in Children

IBS can often lead to emotional problems and depression in children. This is more likely to occur in kids who can’t make it to the bathroom in time — especially if it has happened in front of their friends. Medications and diet modifications may help them grow up with a better quality of life. Keeping a food diary can also help you identify problem foods that cause symptom flare-ups.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids are here to help.

Our home care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you are considering pediatric home health care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today (888) 592-5855.