What Are Some Gastrointestinal Issues Affecting Children (Ages 0-18)?


Experiencing a rumbling tummy and occasional stomach ache is quite common for children and teens of all ages. But when the pains and aches are consistent, are you aware of what remedies can relieve these symptoms? In the event your child or teenager needs pediatric gastrointestinal care in Arizona, please turn to our gastroenterology experts. At Arizona Digestive Health, we maintain the skills and training needed to offer personalized treatment strategies. Read on to discover additional facts about common childhood digestive disorders, along with a few insightful tips from our team.

How frequently are children impacted by GI conditions?

As indicated by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, 40 to 50% of doctor appointments with a pediatric gastroenterology physician are due to functional gastrointestinal disorders. Encopresis or constipation occurs in approximately 10 to 25% of children who are referred to a pediatric gastroenterology specialist, and around 17% of high school students have symptoms connected to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Our Arizona gastroenterology specialists can help your family determine solutions for pediatric GI issues.

What kinds of digestive disorders are commonly seen in teens, children, and infants?

Some pediatric gastrointestinal conditions common in infants, children, and teenagers include:

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease): Recurring heartburn in children and infants could result in a GERD diagnosis. General symptoms include belching, not eating, vomiting, stomach pain, hiccups, and choking or gagging.

Lactose intolerance: A treatable condition, lactose intolerance is one of the GI disorders that may affect teens, children, and infants. It happens when your body lacks the ability to process the sugar present in dairy, known as lactose. Bloating, grass, watery or loose stools, or a stomach ache experienced after eating dairy are all indications of this condition. Consuming lactase enzymes before eating dairy products can help the body to digest lactose properly.

Constipation: This gastrointestinal condition happens when stool becomes large, dry, and/or difficult to pass. Among kids, this can cause them to avoid going to the bathroom. Avoiding bowel movements can result in further constipation and additional gastrointestinal discomfort.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): This GI concern may affect teenagers and children. It includes two individual gastrointestinal diseases. Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation in the colon (large intestine) while Crohn’s disease can affect all areas of the digestive system. Common signs and symptoms of both diseases may involve bloody or watery stool and stomach pain.

Celiac disease: Celiac disease is a digestive health disorder where an adverse reaction occurs as a result of consuming gluten. Gluten is a protein present in wheat, rye, and barley. When left uncontrolled, it can damage the small intestine and prevent your child's body from absorbing the necessary nutrients from the food they eat.

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE): This disorder affects the esophagus. It can lead to chronic allergic inflammatory disease. Children with this condition could have abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, a burning sensation similar to acid reflux, and regurgitation. Additionally, they might gag frequently and have difficulty swallowing.

What steps can parents take to maintain good digestive health in children?

We know that as a parent, you want what is best for your children, from scheduling doctor appointments to ensuring they consume a well-rounded and healthy diet. A few ways to help your child achieve GI wellness are to incorporate the following suggestions into their everyday life:

  • Slow down when eating: We understand that between after-school activities and hanging out with friends, it is tempting for your teen to snag something from the pantry while on the go. Ensure they take time to enjoy the food they consume to help prevent gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Set time to eat meals as a family: Make meals pleasant for all family members and designate a family mealtime. Doing so provides stability and consistency, helping to make the time spent sharing family meals an enjoyable experience. Allowing your toddlers to feed themselves during mealtimes is also a great way to help them create a positive relationship with food.
  • Monitor portion sizes: The amount of food consumed can impact how food is processed and digested. If your child eats excessively, it can lead to difficulty in digesting food and result in stomach discomfort.

To learn more tips on how to help your child experience good digestive health, request a visit with our team at Arizona Digestive Health. Our digestive health providers can partner with you to find an approach that fits your family’s needs and lifestyle.

Find care for pediatric GI disorders in Arizona

Children's digestive conditions do not have to cause chronic, uncontrollable discomfort. You can access solutions for every member of your family when GI conditions arise. For further details about the common digestive problems affecting children, please request a consultation at Arizona Digestive Health. Our gastroenterology group proudly provides pediatric digestive care in Arizona that can help your child experience optimal gastrointestinal health as they grow.