What are Some Digestive Concerns in Children (0 –18)?


Experiencing a rumbling tummy or occasional stomach ache is common for infants, children, and teens. But when the discomfort occurs frequently, are you aware of what remedies might relieve these symptoms? If you are seeking pediatric digestive care in Illinois for your little one, the gastroenterology providers at GI Alliance of Illinois may be able to assist. Read on to discover additional information about these common childhood digestive conditions, along with some tips, below.

How frequently are children impacted by GI disorders?

As indicated by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, 40 to 50% of healthcare appointments with a pediatric gastroenterologist are because of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Encopresis, or constipation, occurs in about 10 to 25% of children who are advised to visit a pediatric gastroenterology physician, and approximately 17% of high school students have symptoms representative of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Our Illinois gastroenterology specialists want to help your family determine solutions for pediatric gastrointestinal issues.

What variations of digestive conditions commonly affect teens, children, and infants?

A few of the pediatric GI conditions that are commonly identified in teenagers, children, and infants involve:

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease): Recurring heartburn in infants and children might result in a GERD diagnosis. Common GERD symptoms are burping, not eating, vomiting, stomach pain, hiccups, and choking or gagging.

Lactose intolerance: A treatable condition, lactose intolerance is a digestive condition that may affect children of all ages. It happens when the body cannot process lactose (the sugar present in dairy). Loose or watery stools, gas, a stomach ache, or bloating experienced after ingesting dairy products are all symptoms of lactose intolerance. Consuming lactase enzymes prior to ingesting dairy products can allow the body to digest lactose properly.

Constipation: This condition happens when stool is dry, large, and/or challenging to pass. In children, this could lead them to avoid routine bathroom habits. Not having regular bowel movements could cause further constipation concerns and additional discomfort.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): This digestive disorder may develop in children and teens. It includes two individual gastrointestinal disorders. Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation in the colon while Crohn’s disease can impact all areas of the gastrointestinal system. Signs and symptoms of both disorders may include watery or bloody bowel movements and stomach discomfort.

Celiac disease: Celiac disease is a digestive health condition that occurs when an adverse reaction happens as a result of ingesting products containing gluten. Gluten is a protein found in rye, barley, and wheat. If the disease is uncontrolled, it could seriously damage the small intestine and keep your child's body from taking in the necessary nutrients from food.

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE): This condition develops in the esophagus. It can cause chronic allergic inflammatory disease. Children affected by this condition could have a burning feeling similar to acid reflux, regurgitation, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Additionally, they might often gag and report swallowing difficulties.

What can parents do to promote good digestive health in kids?

We know that as a parent, you want to do what's best for your kids. This includes everything from planning appointments to making sure they consume a balanced and healthy diet. A few ways to help your child maintain gut health are to implement the following tips into their daily life:

  • Slow down when eating: We know that between after-school commitments and spending time with friends, it is easy for your teenager to quickly snag a snack from the pantry and go. Make sure they take their time and enjoy the food they consume to help avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Monitor portion sizes: Portion sizes can affect how food is processed and digested. If a child eats excessively, it might cause difficulty in digesting food and result in stomach discomfort.
  • Eat meals together as a family: Make meals enjoyable for everyone in the family and commit to family mealtime. This fosters consistency and stability. Allowing your toddlers to feed themselves during family meals is also a good way to foster a positive association with food.

For further tips on how to help your child enjoy good GI health, request an appointment with a pediatric GI provider near you. Our team at GI Alliance of Illinois can help connect with a provider who can identify a solution that fits your family’s needs and lifestyle.

Find trusted care for pediatric GI conditions

Children's GI disorders do not have to cause chronic, unmanageable symptoms. You can find treatment options for all members of your family when GI issues arise. If you're searching for more information on the common digestive conditions affecting children, it may be time to meet with a gastroenterologist in your community. GI Alliance of Illinois can point you in the right direction so you can help your little one enjoy good GI health as they grow.