Children with IBD: Part I
When your child is dealing with a condition such as IBD it can be extremely stressful. Though IBD is more frequently diagnosed between the ages of 15-40 years is can also affect younger children (or older adults) as well. Dealing with a sick child can be doubly frustrating because they are not always able to accurately describe what symptom may be bothering them.
Some signs that your child may be suffering with a form of IBD include obvious symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhea. Both of which may be mild or severe and may also come and go. This can make it confusing to parents searching for the source of their child's discomfort.
Other symptoms of IBD in children can also include: fever, bloody stools, weight loss, anemia, fatigue, ulcers around or inside of the mouth, skin rashes and eye inflammation. Children with Crohn's may also present with additional symptoms. Some of these symptoms may include: joint pain, fever and slow growth (1).
If you see any of these symptoms in your child you should make an appointment to speak with your child's pediatrician. They may also want to refer you to a pediatric gastroenterologist. That is a specialist who only deals with children who have GI associated problems. It can be essential to find someone in this field since adults and children can present with different problems, even when they have the same disease. A pediatric gastroenterologist can also take into account the development of your child and the role IBD can play in their future growth.
Depending on your child's symptoms his or her doctor will probably do testing to determine if you are dealing with IBD. Some of the testing to diagnose IBD include; a barium x-ray series (to get a better look at the intestines), stool and blood samples to look for intestinal bleeding, infection, anemia and other issues. The most accurate test is an endoscopy where the tissue can be biopsied and tested. The endoscopy can be passed through the rectum and into the colon to view the lower portion of the intestines, called a colonoscopy. This is usually done under general anesthesia (1).
Tune in next month as we discuss what treatments are used in children with IBD.