Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Children

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) refers to a condition characterized by abdominal cramps, diarrhea, constipation, as well as gas and bloating. Although the etiology is not clear, IBS has been associated with stress, hormonal changes and illnesses like infectious diarrhea, etc.

All these factors disturb the rhythm of chyme movement from the stomach through the intestinal tract to the rectum. So, this causes the contents of the colon to move in an abnormal way. The chyme may move too fast, or may not move at all. However, the condition does not raise any major or serious concerns, and can be easily managed.

Symptoms in Children

Symptoms to be watched out include stomachache, which occurs with an occasional frequency, and not very often. Parents must observe if their kids are suffering from constipation (irregular and infrequent, or difficult bowel movement, characterized by hard stools) or diarrhea (frequent and watery bowel movements). A feeling of not being able to empty the bowel completely is also another symptom. Abdominal cramps, mucus in stools, and a sensation of gas being trapped inside the gastrointestinal tract, are the other common symptoms. These symptoms may turn out to be mild for some children, and severe for others.


The treatment is governed by the child's age, severity of the illness, and the child's response or tolerance to medication and therapies. As the cause of this illness is not known, the treatment is mainly centered towards managing the symptoms, and providing relief from the discomfort.


As far as medicines are concerned, it is best to consult a pediatrician. He/she may prescribe medicines to reduce pain and limit gas formation, as well as to deal with constipation and diarrhea. Administration of any over-the-counter medications should not be considered, as there would be a risk of potential side effects, and that might further worsen the condition. The professional can suggest the right drug and dosage, after considering the child's precise condition, age, tolerance, and medical history.

Dietary Modifications

Parents can keep track of the different kinds of foods consumed by their kids, and make a note of the ones that trigger the symptoms of IBS. Foods which can trigger IBS may vary from children to children. However, the ones which have been found to be common in all include spicy foods, chocolates, dairy products, high-fat foods. So parents must ensure that these kinds of foods must be given in limited amounts to their kids when healthy, and must be completely avoided when they are suffering from IBS.

In addition, parents must ensure that the child's meals are high in dietary fiber. Fresh fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, raspberries, broccoli, spinach, legumes, whole grains, etc., can be included in their daily meals. Moreover, remaining hungry for a long period of time, as well as heavy meals, tend to trigger IBS. Hence, parents should not force their children to overeat. On the contrary, they should provide children with smaller meals, spread out evenly throughout the day.

Lifestyle Changes

As stress has been considered as one of the causes of IBS, a part of the treatment also consists of taking up measures which might help in managing stress. Parents must ensure that their kids are getting enough sleep, as well as enough time to be involved in games and sports. They must also be aware if the kids are working too much at school, and if they are somehow skipping meals in any part of the day.

Kids may not understand the symptoms of IBS, even when they are suffering from it. So, it becomes the responsibility of the parents to take care of what their young ones are eating, and listen to their health complaints attentively, rather than simply ignoring them.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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