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Digestive Problems In Infants & Children - What Should You Know?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Prashant K Vaidya 90% (18372 ratings)
Diploma In Gastroenterology, Diploma In Dermatology, BHMS
Homeopathy Doctor, Hyderabad  •  12 years experience
Digestive Problems In Infants & Children - What Should You Know?

Digestive Problems in Infants & children

Digestive Problems in Infants:
Want to know all the digestive problems in infants? This article will tell you all the common digestive problems in children, and how you can deal with them. Read on…

List of Digestive Problems in Infants

Diarrhea
It is very sad and very surprising, but approximately 450 babies in the United States die due to diarrhea each year. Diarrhea is thus, one of the major digestive problems today. This can be caused due to a number of reasons. The most likely causes are change in diet, antibiotic uses and by certain infections. If the baby is still breast fed, a change in the mothers diet can also lead to diarrhea. Rehydration is said to be the best treatment for diarrhea in babies and can be done at home.

Constipation
Another common digestive problem in infants is Constipation. This digestive problem may develop again, due to change in diet, medication or even behavior. However, constipation can be diagnosed and treated at home easily. Constipation is a situation when the infant has hard bowel movements. High fiber foods and fruits work as good treatment for constipation. However, if your infant is hardly a few years old or is also suffering from rectal bleeding, consult a doctor immediately.

Vomiting
Vomiting is yet another digestive problem in infants that is highly misunderstood. Most mothers mistake spitting up for vomiting, which is normal in most infants after a meal and in company of a burp. Vomiting in infants is a result of blockage of the stomach or intestinal blockage. In slightly older infants, the cause for vomiting is usually or mostly always an infection that is caused mostly by a virus. However, vomiting is not a serious issue if it happens once due to overeating or reasons alike. But if the intensity is high and happens frequently, it should be shown to a doctor.

Baby Colic:
Baby Colic (intense crying of the infant for a said number of hours everyday) is still considered as one of the earliest known digestive problems in infants and said to be a result of abdominal pain. Though most doctors disagree to the fact and their reasons are quite believable too, this is still considered a digestive problem by many. Infants also are said to experience relief after massaging of the abdomen. This topic is still under debate and the doctor's consultation is a must. The word 'colic' too, is derived from the Greek word for intestine.

Pain:
Pain, I agree is a very general term. But there are many reasons that may cause these pains. The digestive system (including the intestines) of infants in some cases is underdeveloped. This causes many other problems apart from irregular bowel movements. Digesting certain ingredients becomes a problem like that of lactose intolerance. This may result in pain. Bladder infection and appendicitis are two other reasons that might lead to this pain but these are uncommon.

Digestive Problems in Children
Small children are affected by various digestive problems quite often. In this Buzzle article, we are talking about such problems that are most commonly found in infants and older children.

Digestive Problems in Older Children

Constipation:
In this condition, children have infrequent bowel movements. Its symptoms are hard stools, which are difficult to pass. Stool withholding, lack of fiber in diet, and side effects of medicines are the most common causes of constipation. Constipation in children can be relieved and regular bowel movements can be restored by including lots of fiber-rich foods in their diet. 

Diarrhea:
Diarrhea in children is mostly triggered by bacterial or viral infection. It can be a symptom of an undetected disease of the digestive system. It is identified with watery stools occurring 3 or more times a day, abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, and dehydration. Diarrhea can be acute or chronic. In acute cases, these symptoms last for one or two days. On the other hand, chronic diarrhea is more serious and persist for several days. In this condition, the treatment involves replenishment of lost fluids with the help of rehydrating solution and avoiding all such foods that cause stomach irritation. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): 
This can be described as abnormal functioning of the bowel. Due to this abnormality, the intestines fail to contract properly to promote bowel movements. As a result, one gets diarrhea and constipation alternately. Irritable bowel syndrome makes the intestines highly sensitive towards gas and causes abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, etc. Irritable bowel syndrome in children cannot be cured completely, but its symptoms can be treated with the help of suitable medicines and dietary changes. 

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome: 
This can be described as a sudden bout of excessive vomiting that lasts for a few hours or days and tends to recur after a short period. The characteristics and duration of each episode of vomiting syndrome remains the same. The exact cause of this digestive problem is still not clearly known. Its treatment includes medicines for controlling vomiting and nausea, and adequate rest and sleep. 

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): 
This is a condition in which the stomach acids flow back into the esophagus and cause a lot of irritation in that area. A small amount of these acids released into the esophagus is a common occurrence in both, adults and children, and does not cause any harm. However, when a large amount of acids flow back into the esophagus, its lining gets damaged and causes a lot of discomfort. Heartburn, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing food, wheezing, etc., are some of the commonly observed symptoms of acid reflux disease. The treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms. Sometimes, following a GERD diet can bring about improvement in the condition and in other cases medicines are needed to control acid production in the stomach. 

Tips to Keep Children Healthy:
-Teach your child the importance of a healthy routine. The day should always begin with a healthy breakfast. Help the child to understand why breakfast times are important for the day. You can make a chart of different breakfast recipes and tell him/her the importance of the many vital nutrients for one's body.

-Fruits and green vegetables are important for a healthy diet. Your child should know why fruits score over packaged foods. You need to include fresh fruits during breakfast times or slip one in the lunchbox. Make it interesting by having fresh fruit juices or salads to break the monotony.

-Children are not aware about many things that are very important for their growth. As parents, you must ensure that your child has plenty of water and fluids during the day. Fluids should include fresh juices. Make sure your child carries a bottle of fresh juices to school.

-Kids should know the importance of exercise at an early age itself. Teach kids a few basic exercises that can be done at home. An exercise routine that incorporates walking or swimming can help children to manage these activities on a daily basis. As they grow up, these routines will naturally form a part of their life.

-Children should also be aware of hygiene-related issues. Youngsters should learn things such as the need to wash hands before and after meals. For young kids, you can simply use a singsong routine to get them into the process. Children will then surely make this a part of their routine once they understand the importance of personal hygiene.

-Dental care should begin at an early age. Brushing teeth twice daily is needed to keep them looking healthy and clean. You can promise to read a bedtime story for a kid that does not really enjoy a brushing routine. Make it seem enjoyable rather than making the child feel punished.

-As your child grows older, you can help him/her maintain a chart on foods to be avoided on a regular basis. It is important that the child knows that indulgence in foods high in sugar is fine once in a while, but should not be done on a regular basis. Avoid being too stern if your kid wants to enjoy foods such as french fries and ice cream, simply teach him/her how to be smart and consume such foods only occasionally.

-Your child may require a daily dose of vitamins if the diet does not include the required amount. Make sure you check with your doctor about the vitamin intake to give the right amount of doses. There are many vitamin tablets packed in attractive containers. Generally, kids believe they eat candy instead of medicines due to the innovatively packed products that are available these days. There can also be alternative ways to include food items rich in vitamins in your kid's diet. Your doctor would be the best judge to decide upon the diet plan.

-Parents also need to make sure their children get the appropriate amount of sleep. The child needs a healthy balance of activities and play. Sometimes, children take a long time to fall asleep. You can read a bedtime story or simply speak to the child softly, which will help him/her fall asleep naturally. This will help children to stay in good health and remain active during the day.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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