Can children have IBS?

Irritable bowel disease, or IBS, doesn’t only affect adults. Kids are also vulnerable to this uncomfortable condition, and it can have an impact on their everyday lives. If your child is experiencing symptoms of a gastrointestinal problem, make an appointment with a children’s hospital pediatrician to determine if IBS could be to blame.

What exactly is IBS?
IBS is not actually a disease but is rather a group of symptoms that occur together and affect the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract. People of all ages with IBS experience symptoms including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

For some people, these symptoms only show up occasionally, while others only experience a certain set of symptoms—such as only constipation or only diarrhea—and experience them on an ongoing basis.

How common is IBS in kids?
Doctors aren’t sure exactly how many kids are affected by IBS, but some studies have indicated that up to 14% of high school students have the condition. It appears to occur equally in boys and girls.

IBS is most common in kids who have family members with the disease. Kids who suffer from depression or anxiety are also more prone to developing IBS. If your pediatrician suspects your child has IBS, he or she may order some medical tests to rule out other conditions before making a diagnosis.

How is IBS treated?
Treatment for IBS depends on the type of symptoms being experienced. For some kids, dietary changes are all that are needed. Kids may need to avoid common trigger foods, such as:

  • High-fat foods
  • Milk products
  • Caffeine
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Beans
  • Cabbage

If symptoms aren’t improved by dietary changes, then medications may be necessary. Laxatives may help with chronic constipation, while antidiarrheal medicines can help with diarrhea. For chronic abdominal pain, antispasmodic medications may be used.

Living with IBS can be a challenge, but at Sunrise Children’s Hospital, our pediatricians can help your child find a treatment plan that effectively manages symptoms. For all of your child’s medical needs, trust our children’s hospital in Las Vegas. We’re here to answer your questions about our services and provide referrals to pediatricians. Call (702) 233-5437.

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