IBD in Children: How the Child's Pain Effects the Caregiver

  • Unfortunately, our children are one of the fastest growing segments of population being diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  Since HealthCentral is focusing on pain during the month of September, I wanted to discuss how a child's pain can effect the caregiver.  It can be very hard for parents or caregivers to watch their child have to deal with any kind of pain, much less some of the more severe issues found with IBD.

    The pain of IBD can range from moderate to severe depending on the amount of intestinal involvement.  In addition to the pain from the disease itself, the tests can often be very uncomfortable and scary for children.  Some children will also undergo surgery to treat their diseased intestines, which is also another pain laden treatment.  

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    When dealing with a child in chronic pain there can be an immense toll on the caregiver and that can be a very important factor in the overall care plan.  Research that has been done regarding other illnesses seem to indicate a greater level of anxiety and depression in parents whose children have chronic pain (1).  Conversely, children whose mothers expressed the greatest distress in dealing with their child's chronic pain caused an increase in the child's distress. This distress and disruption in family functioning also lead to higher pain being reported by the children (2).

    It is obvious that the way a caregiver deals with their child's pain can play a huge role in not only the caregiver's quality of life but the quality of life of the child and the child's perceived pain.   Additional research also showed that parents dealing with chronically ill children demonstrate changes in their DNA that effectively amounts to the equivalent of several years of aging (3).  If you have dealt with a chronically ill child, then you are likely not surprised by this information.

    It is clear that the caregiver is of huge importance to the health of the chronically ill child but this role can be a tough road for many caregivers. Tune in to the next part of this blog series where we discuss how a caregiver can avoid burnout to take the best care of themselves and their chronically ill child.

Published On: September 17, 2013