What Are Gastrointestinal Problems Among Children (Ages 0-18)?


An occasional belly ache or rumbling tummy is quite common for children and teens of all ages. However, when the aches and pains happen consistently, are you aware of what solutions can provide relief? In the event your little one requires pediatric digestive care in Tulsa, OK, it is important to connect with a gastroenterology provider to find relief. Our team at Adult Gastroenterology Associates can help point you in the right direction. Read on to learn facts about common childhood digestive conditions, along with some helpful tips.

How frequently are kids affected by GI disorders?

As reported by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, 40 to 50% of healthcare visits with a pediatric gastroenterology physician are due to functional gastrointestinal disorders. Encopresis or constipation arises in approximately 10 to 25% of children who are advised to see a pediatric GI specialist, and around 17% of high school students report symptoms representative of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Our Tulsa, OK gastroenterology providers want to help your family find treatment options for pediatric GI conditions.

What kinds of GI conditions tend to affect teens, children, and infants?

A number of the pediatric gastrointestinal conditions that are commonly identified in infants, children, and teenagers involve:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Ongoing heartburn in infants and children can result in a GERD diagnosis. Common GERD symptoms involve belching, not eating, vomiting, stomach discomfort, hiccups, and choking or gagging.

Lactose intolerance: This treatable issue is one of the digestive disorders that may affect teens, children, and infants. It happens when a child cannot process the sugar present in dairy, known as lactose. Loose or watery stools, gas, a stomach ache, or bloating experienced after ingesting dairy are all signs of lactose intolerance. Taking lactase enzymes before ingesting dairy products can enable the body to digest lactose properly.

Constipation: Constipation arises when stool becomes dry, large, and/or difficult to pass. In children, constipation can cause them to avoid routine bathroom habits. Avoiding bowel movements can result in further constipation concerns and additional discomfort.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): This digestive concern may develop in teens and children. It describes two individual digestive conditions. Ulcerative colitis results in inflammation in the large intestine (colon), while Crohn’s disease can affect all portions of the GI tract. Common signs and symptoms of both conditions may include bloody or watery bowel movements and stomach discomfort.

Celiac disease: Celiac disease is a digestive condition where an adverse reaction happens after ingesting gluten products. Gluten is a protein present in wheat, barley, and rye. When the disease is uncontrolled, it could seriously damage the small intestine and prevent your child from gaining essential nutrients from the food they consume.

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE): This disorder is present in the esophagus. EoE can cause chronic allergic inflammatory disease. Kids might experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, regurgitation, and a burning feeling similar to acid reflux. Additionally, they may gag frequently and report difficulty swallowing.

What can parents do to maintain good digestive health in kids?

As a parent, you want what is best for your kids, from planning appointments to ensuring they eat a well-rounded and healthy diet. A few ways to help your child maintain GI health are to implement the following suggestions into their daily life:

  • Watch portion sizes: The amount of food eaten can impact how food is processed and digested. If a child eats in excess, it may lead to digestion difficulties and result in stomach discomfort.

  • Sit down as a family to eat: Make meals pleasant for every family member and incorporate a family mealtime. This provides stability and consistency, helping to make the time spent sharing family meals is enjoyable for all. Allowing your toddlers to feed themselves during family meals is also a good way to help them develop a healthy relationship with food.

  • Eat more slowly: Between after-school activities and spending time with friends, it is tempting for your teen to quickly snag a snack from the pantry and go. Urge them to take time to enjoy the food they consume to prevent digestive discomfort.

Find treatment for pediatric digestive conditions in Tulsa, OK

Pediatric digestive concerns do not have to result in ongoing, uncontrollable symptoms. You can find options for care for all members of your family when GI concerns arise. At Adult Gastroenterology Associates, we want every member of your family to experience lasting digestive health. Our gastroenterologists in Tulsa, OK can help you connect with a pediatric specialist to help you find the care you need for your little one.