When Is the Ideal Time to Consult a Pediatric GI Specialist?


When we imagine the type of person who is more likely to need treatment for a digestive issue, we generally imagine a mature adult or an individual of older age. Although age can typically be characteristic in the development of certain types of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, however, we know that kids aren't immune to intestinal problems — and could possibly be more vulnerable to certain GI conditions.

If you think your child might have a digestive condition, the gastrointestinal specialists at Arizona Digestive Health might be able to help improve their GI health. The following information can be helpful when deciding if you need to request a consultation with an Arizona pediatric gastroenterologist near you.

How is a child's digestive system different from a mature adult’s?

Just like every other system in the body, the digestive tract needs time to mature following birth. GI issues in newborns are relatively common once during this stage of development. For example, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle at the base of the esophagus that functions to keep stomach acid from flowing upward, is generally not well-developed in infants, causing problems with gastroesophageal reflux.

As adequate nourishment is tied closely to a child's growth and development, it's highly advised that you schedule an appointment with a pediatric gastrointestinal specialist if you believe your little one is encountering GI problems. Pediatric GI issues are more widespread than you might expect, with some even beginning at birth.

Which type of pediatric GI disorders are most commonly experienced?

Although kids might be impacted by several of the same gastrointestinal issues that are common in adults, certain types are more prevalent than others. Some of the more common conditions include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): GERD refers to scarring and inflammation in the esophagus brought on by recurrent acid reflux. This disorder is very typical in infants and newborns and is commonly signified by vomiting, hiccups, gagging, and an aversion to feeding.
  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease): This involves Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • CVS (cyclic vomiting syndrome): CVS is characterized by extreme vomiting that occurs in episodes. It is predominantly found in children.
  • Abdominal distress: A lot of minor GI troubles (like gas) will resolve with time, but frequent or severe pain justifies a visit to a pediatric gastrointestinal specialist.
  • Constipation: This involves difficulty when passing stools.
  • Food intolerances: Food intolerance in kids often include lactose intolerance (difficulty processing milk items) and celiac disease (an autoimmune reaction to gluten that damages the small intestine).

It's essential to manage GI troubles in infants, toddlers, and newborns, as these troubles could inhibit the child's means to take in the nutrition they need to grow and thrive properly. The gastroenterologist providers at Arizona Digestive Health can help you understand your child's illness and select the ideal treatment option for it.

When should I bring my child to a pediatric gastroenterologist?

When it comes to any health condition, it's better to be safe than sorry. Even a relatively small issue, like diarrhea, may be a sign of a more serious problem if it happens routinely. There are a few distinct symptoms that should be evaluated by a pediatric GI physician regardless of frequency:

  • Frequent diarrhea or constipation
  • Frequent vomiting or blood present in vomit
  • Bloody stools
  • A lag in or increase in growth despite getting enough nutrients

Should you observe any of the above symptoms in your child, please set up an appointment with a GI provider immediately.

Find pediatric gastrointestinal care in Arizona

At Arizona Digestive Health, our gastroenterologists treat an array of pediatric GI disorders and are committed to helping our patients thrive. If you're worried about your child's digestive wellness and are in search of a pediatric gastrointestinal provider in Arizona, contact us today to reserve a consultation with our team.