Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is a common complaint and can be seen in children as well as adults.
With children, the fact that they may not be able to communicate coherently and exactly what their problems are, diagnosis may be somewhat more difficult to make.
As with adults, the symptoms of IBS, which are pain or discomfort, diarrhea or constipation, gas bloating and signs of indigestion make themselves felt after eating or when under any kind of stress.
What happens is that the nerves and muscles in the large intestine may be hypersensitive with some children and can suddenly and involuntarily contract (spasm). Then the food in the digestive tract is either sped out causing diarrhea or it progresses slow causing constipation.
So this increased or decreased speed at which the intestine works as also abnormal muscle contractions are what cause the problems that a child faces with IBS. As against adults, children with IBS tend to have increased sensitivity in their large intestine and have been seen to react strongly to the stimuli or the triggers of IBS.
The triggers for IBS among children can be anything from emotional trauma to teething to food triggers. Many children react adversely to stress involving family trauma, a new situation such as a school or relocation, which is why IBS symptoms may be more readily activated in more sensitive children.
Children who are teething may also find that it is a trigger for IBS. Overeating or eating foods with caffeine content such as sodas, chocolate, fast food, oily or highly spiced foods can trigger IBS in children. Milk and dairy products also cause IBS to be triggered; particularly in children who are lactose intolerant.
Sometimes when a child has suffered a gastrointestinal infection or salmonella etc. he or she may be seen to develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It does seem to occur when immunity of the child is somewhat impaired.
Parents who suspect their child may have symptoms of IBS should look for the following symptoms which may manifest themselves repeatedly over a period of three months or more:
- The child’s patterns of defecating and the appearance of consistency of stool changes
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating gas
- Heartburn or acidity
- Weight loss
If other causes for the above symptoms have been examined and discarded, then IBS ought to be considered as a possible cause.