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Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Children

Dr. Ramakanth Reddy 92% (143 ratings)
MBBS, Diploma In Child Health
Pediatrician, Hyderabad  •  23 years experience

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive disorder that causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas or a combination of the above. IBS occurs in people of all ages, including children. Some children may have diarrhea as a dominant symptom, while others may have constipation as a dominant symptom. Certain children have symptoms that alternate between diarrhea and constipation. Stress has been implicated as a trigger in IBS, but stress alone does not cause IBS.

Symptoms 

  • Diarrhea 

  • Constipation 

  • Diarrhea alternating with constipation

  • Flatulence

  • Bloating

  • Mucus in the stool

  • Vomiting 

  • Nausea 

  • Weight loss in some children

  • Urgency with bowel movement

  • Sensation of incomplete emptying after bowel movement

Diagnosis

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.

Treatment

IBS is usually treated by introducing more fiber into the child’s diet. Bowel-training to empty the bowels at regular, specific times during the day may help. In children with constipation, laxatives should be used with caution because they may lead to addiction and compound the problem. When used, laxatives are taken usually short term and parents must follow the doctor’s instructions precisely.

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