Common Digestive Problems in Children (0 –18)


Having a rumbling tummy or an occasional stomach ache is generally common for babies, children, and teenagers. However, in the event the aches and pains happen more consistently, are you aware of what remedies can relieve these symptoms? If your child needs pediatric GI care in Denver, CO, the digestive health team at Colorado Gastroenterology can help point you in the right direction. Read on to discover additional information about common childhood GI conditions, along with some insightful tips and tricks from our team.

How frequently are children affected by GI conditions?

As stated by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, 40 to 50% of visits with a pediatric gastroenterologist are due to functional GI disorders. Encopresis, or constipation, occurs in about 10 to 25% of children who are advised to visit a pediatric gastroenterology physician, and approximately 17% of high school students experience symptoms connected to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Our Denver, CO gastroenterology specialists want to help your family identify treatment options for pediatric GI conditions.

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

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

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Recurring heartburn in infants and children could result in a GERD diagnosis. General signs and symptoms involve burping, lack of a desire to eat, throwing up, abdominal pain, hiccups, and gagging or choking.

Lactose intolerance: A treatable issue, lactose intolerance is one of the gastrointestinal disorders that may affect teens, children, and infants. It occurs when a child's body lacks the ability to metabolize the sugar present in dairy, known as lactose. Gas, bloating, a stomach ache, or loose or watery stools experienced after consuming dairy products are all symptoms of lactose intolerance. Ingesting lactase enzymes before eating dairy products can allow the body to digest lactose properly.

Constipation: Constipation arises when stool becomes large, dry, and/or hard to pass. In kids, this may cause them to avoid routine bathroom habits. Not having regular bowel movements can cause more constipation concerns and additional GI discomfort.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): This digestive condition may develop in children and teens. IBD involves two individual GI conditions. Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation in the colon (large intestine), and Crohn’s disease can affect all portions of the GI system. Symptoms for both conditions may include watery or bloody bowel movements and stomach discomfort.

Celiac disease: Celiac disease is a GI condition that arises when an adverse reaction develops in the wake of consuming products containing gluten. Gluten is a protein present in barley, wheat, and rye. If the disease is left uncontrolled, it could damage the small intestine and prevent your child from gaining the necessary nutrients from the food they eat.

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE): This disorder develops in the esophagus. EoE can cause chronic allergic inflammatory disease. Children affected by this condition might have nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, regurgitation, and a burning feeling similar to acid reflux. Additionally, they might often gag and report trouble swallowing.

What can parents do to maintain good GI health in children?

We know that as a parent, you want the best for your kids. This includes everything from planning medical visits to making certain they eat a well-rounded and healthy diet. A few ways to help your child achieve digestive wellness are to infuse these suggestions into their daily life:

  • Eat at a slower pace: We know that between after-school activities and spending time with friends, it is easy for your teenager to quickly snag something from the pantry and go. Make sure they take time to enjoy the food they eat to prevent gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Eat meals together as a family: Try to make mealtime pleasant for every member of your family and designate a family mealtime. This provides consistency and stability, helping to ensure time spent sharing family meals is enjoyable for all. Allowing your toddlers to feed themselves during family meals is also a helpful way to help them build a healthy association with food.
  • Monitor portion sizes: The amount of food eaten can affect how food is digested. If your child eats excessively, it can lead to digestion difficulties and result in an upset stomach.

A gastroenterologist can provide additional tips on how to help your child enjoy good GI health. The team at Colorado Gastroenterology may be able to help you locate a provider who can identify an approach that fits your family’s lifestyle and needs.

Find treatment for pediatric GI conditions in Denver, CO

Children's digestive health disorders do not have to cause chronic, unmanageable discomfort. You can find solutions for every member of your family when GI concerns arise. To learn details about the common digestive problems found in children, it's important to connect with a GI provider. Reach out to Colorado Gastroenterology for help with finding pediatric digestive care that can allow your child to maintain optimal GI health for years to come.