All-day bellyaches, extended toilet time, daylong spells of shut-eye and frequent barf fests are common outcomes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in kids. IBD triggers the inflammation of the intestines, with symptoms appearing persistently or in bouts.
IBD is usually prompted by one of two underlying conditions: Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. In both cases, the intestines react by swelling up, sometimes, developing ulcers. Ulcers, in turn, can give rise to bleeding or pain. In Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, inflammation is known to cause long-term effects, which may be continual or intermittent.
Crohn’s disease penetrates to all the layers of the digestive tract, causing universal swelling, pain and inflammation. It can strike one or more sections of the digestive ecosystem including the stomach, mouth, oesophagus, small intestines, large intestines and anus.
Ulcerative colitis affects only the inner section of the intestinal wall, most often that of the rectum or colon.
Causes of IBD in Kids
The exact triggers for IBD remain unknown, although medical experts agree that it may be influenced by heredity. This can further be broken down into:
Genetic Factors: Genes are thought to present a predisposition to IBD; so you’re more likely to develop it if it runs in your family
Autoimmune Disorders: Under normal circumstances, the immune system combats pathogens that invade the body through an immune response that triggers the inflammation of the digestive tract. Once the bacteria or virus has been defeated, the tract loses the inflammation, returning to its normal state. However, in kids with IBD, this inflammation happens even without an infection. In the process, the immune system begins fighting the body’s own cells.
Symptoms of IBD in Kids
IBD usually manifests as diarrhoea or bellyaches.
However, it is also known to give the following symptoms:
-Blood in stools
Treatment of IBD in Kids
The first step to securing a treatment plan for your child is seeking a formal diagnosis from a paediatrician. As part of this process, your child may need to undergo blood tests, stool tests, x-rays and other necessary procedures. IBD can be treated through diet management, medical management or surgical management, or a combination of two or more of these.
If your child has been recommended dietary changes, it’s worth whipping out your chef’s hat and getting creative in the kitchen. As one of the main symptoms of IBD, inflammation can be managed with a low-fat, low-fibre and low-dairy diet. Experiment with whole grains, fruits and veggies and go big with flavour, even without all the food groups. Substitute dairy with other forms of calcium and protein. Such a diet can also reduce the risk of infection.
Anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, antibiotics, laxatives, mineral and vitamin supplements and antidiarrhoeal drugs are all possible options in the treatment of IBD. Your paediatrician may prescribe a tailored treatment plan based on the seriousness and severity of symptoms displayed.
Ulcerative colitis can sometimes only be cured through the removal of the large intestine. In the case of Crohn’s disease, while there is no equivalent cure, bowel removal surgery can greatly alleviate symptoms.
Helping Kids Cope With IBD
Inflammatory bowel disease is like a visitor who refuses to leave. While some kids go without feeling any symptoms for years, others experience frequent pain, compulsive vomiting and chronic diarrhoea, making school and other activities a challenge. In some cases, where growth and maturation become a problem, IBD can be treated through growth hormones.
If you have a child who has been diagnosed with IBD or who exhibits such symptoms, seek guidance from a child specialist to know how to tame the condition in the best way. By leaving it too late, you may invite big problems for your little one, in the belly, the bathroom and beyond.
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