Could Your Child Be Suffering From IBS? Check For These Symptoms
Could those constant tummy aches and complaints be more than just an upset stomach? If you find your child complaining of the bowel or stomach troubles quite often lately, it could be the on-start of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Keep reading to find out what it is and how to check for the symptoms.
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Could Your Child Be Suffering From IBS? Check These Symptoms
I have suffered from IBS- anxiety all my life, so I know what it feels like. I started experiencing the pain and troubles from a young age, as young as 6 years old. I clearly remember I would get painful spasms and would try to reach out to my mom, who was a teacher in the same school. I also clearly remember the class teacher who attributed my spasms to an attempt to escape from her class. When the constant complaining didn’t stop, I was taken to an ‘expert’ child specialist who diagnosed it as ‘attention seeking’ measures to get my parents to love me more. All my complaints were dismissed, and whatever bullsh*t I went through, gifted me with teenage depression, something that I have had battled since long. When kids have IBS and it goes undetected, they develop shame and disgust for it that can lead to more trouble. My sufferings have a lot more to do with the shame associated with IBS and less with the problem itself. Timely diagnosis and support can effectively reduce this.
If your child keeps complaining about stomach aches, experiences too less or too frequent bowel movements, or evades going out even to the mall, this could be more than just ‘attention seeking’ tactics. It could be IBS and for the love of God please take it seriously.
What is IBS?
NIDDK US classifies IBS as a chronic functional gastrointestinal disorder caused by the changes in the way Gastrointestinal (GI) tract functions. It isn’t a disease, rather a group of symptoms that occur together. IBS is generally diagnosed in growing children when they experience discomfort or pain the abdomen, once per week, for over two months and there’s no other explanation for the pain.
Symptoms of IBS in children
IBS is characterized by regular discomfort or pain in the abdomen accompanied by changes in the bowel habit. Abdominal pain or discomfort should be associated with any two of the following symptoms:
- More or less frequent bowel movements than usual accompanied by pain in the abdomen while the child relieves himself/ herself.
- Changes in stool: loose and watery lumpier or hard and lumpy.
- Pain improves after the bowel movement
IBS can be of three types, viz. IBS- D (diarrhea), IBS- C (constipation), or IBS- A (alternating). As the name suggests, IBS- D is characterized by frequent watery loose stool accompanied by mild to severe abdominal pain. In IBS- C, the child experiences fewer bowel movements per week marked by straining and difficulty to relieve since the stool is dry. IBS- A is the alternating type wherein symptoms keep switching from constipation to diarrhea or vice versa.
Few other symptoms of IBS include:
- Feeling that the bowel movement is incomplete even after you’re done
- Constant bloating that might worsen after consuming specific food groups
- Stool with mucus
Please remember, children with IBS might have hypersensitivity to abdominal pain as compared to normal children. Also, it isn’t known yet whether IBS triggers anxiety or anxiety triggers IBS, whatever the case please don’t shame your child for being sensitive or being prone to stomach troubles. Asking them to be ‘tough’ or ‘avoid’ the pain and it will go isn’t exactly helpful. It isn’t a switch that they can flip and voila, the pain or anxiety would disappear. If they experience the pain and the urge to go every time you’re out of the house, this means they feel anxious and taking them to the nearest bathroom without shaming will be helpful. Let them know they can trust you and you won’t judge them for having bowel troubles.