What Are Some Digestive Conditions Among Children (0 –18)?


An occasional stomach ache or rumbling tummy is generally common for children and teens of all ages. But when the aches and pains happen consistently, are you familiar with what solutions might provide relief? Should your child or teenager require pediatric gastrointestinal care in Hattiesburg, MS, the gastroenterology team at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC may be able to guide you in the right direction. Read on to find out additional information about common childhood GI conditions, along with several helpful tips and tricks from our team.

How frequently are kids impacted by digestive disorders?

As reported by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, 40 to 50% of visits with a pediatric gastroenterology specialist are due to functional GI disorders. Encopresis or constipation affects about 10 to 25% of children who are referred to a pediatric GI physician, and approximately 17% of high school-age students have symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Our Hattiesburg, MS gastroenterology providers aim to help your family identify treatment options for pediatric digestive conditions.

What variations of GI disorders are frequently seen in teens, children, and infants?

Several of the pediatric GI disorders that are commonly diagnosed in infants, children, and teenagers include the following:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Frequent heartburn in children and infants can lead to a diagnosis of GERD. General signs and symptoms include belching, not eating, vomiting, stomach discomfort, hiccups, and choking or gagging.

Lactose intolerance: A treatable condition, lactose intolerance is among the digestive conditions that can affect teens, children, and infants. It arises when your body cannot process lactose (the sugar present in dairy). Loose or watery stools, gas, a stomach ache, or bloating after eating dairy are all indications of lactose intolerance. Taking lactase enzymes prior to ingesting dairy products can allow the body to process lactose properly.

Constipation: This condition occurs when stool becomes dry, large, and/or hard to pass. In children, constipation may cause them to avoid using the bathroom. Avoiding the bathroom could result in more constipation concerns and additional GI discomfort.

IBD (inflammatory bowel disease): This digestive health disorder may arise in teenagers and children. It describes two distinctive digestive conditions. Ulcerative colitis results in inflammation in the colon (large intestine) and Crohn’s disease can impact all parts of the digestive system. Common signs and symptoms of both diseases may involve watery or bloody bowel movements and stomach discomfort.

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

EoE (eosinophilic esophagitis): This disorder impact the esophagus. It can result in chronic allergic inflammatory disease. Kids with this condition could experience abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, a burning sensation similar to acid reflux, and regurgitation. Additionally, they might often gag and experience difficulty swallowing.

What steps can be taken to maintain good digestive health in children?

We understand that as a parent, you want the best for your family. This includes everything from scheduling medical visits to ensuring they consume a well-rounded and healthy diet. Some ways to help your child maintain GI health are to infuse these suggestions into their everyday life:

  • Set time to eat meals as a family: Strive to make mealtime fun for everyone in the family and commit to family mealtime. This fosters stability and consistency, making time spent sharing a meal enjoyable for all. Allowing your toddlers to feed themselves during mealtimes is also a good way to help them build a positive association with food.
  • Eat more slowly: We understand that between after-school activities and hanging out with friends, it is easy for teenagers to quickly grab something from the pantry while on the go. Make certain they take time to enjoy the food they consume to prevent digestive upset.
  • Watch portion sizes: The amount of food consumed can make a difference in how food is digested. If a child eats in excess, it may lead to digestion difficulties and end up resulting in an upset stomach.

For additional suggestions on how to help your child experience good GI health, it can be very helpful to meet with an experienced digestive health provider. Our team at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC may be able to help you connect with a local pediatric GI provider who can identify an approach that matches your family’s needs and lifestyle.

Find trusted care for pediatric digestive conditions in Hattiesburg, MS

Pediatric GI disorders do not have to result in consistent, uncontrollable discomfort. You can find options for care for everyone in the family when they are needed. To learn more information on the common digestive conditions affecting children, it's important to consult a qualified gastroenterologist. Hattiesburg GI Associates LLC may be able to help you find pediatric digestive care near you so your little one maintains optimal gastrointestinal health now and in the future.