Irritable bowel syndrome produces cramplike pains and bouts of diarrhea and/or constipation.

The more serious disorders, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are both forms of inflammatory bowel disease. IBD damages the tissue of the small bowel and the large bowel, respectively, through the process of inflammation. As the body’s response to injury, inflammation is characterized by blood-carrying, infection-fighting white blood cells that rush to the site of the injury. Their presence accounts for the painful swelling, warmth and redness associated with an inflammatory reaction.

Among children, Crohn’s is two times more prevalent than ulcerative colitis. Whereas ulcerative colitis affects only the inner lining of the intestine and is confined to one section, “Crohn’s disease can penetrate the full thickness of the bowel and tends to occur in more than one area,”  The open sores ooze blood, mucus and pus.

The cause of inflammatory bowel disease has yet to be discovered, although theories abound. Heredity is a factor: 15 to 30 percent of IBD sufferers have a relative with either disorder.

Symptoms that Suggest Irritable Bowel Syndrome may include:

  • Cramplike pain and spasms in the lower abdomen

  • Nausea

  • Bloating and gas

  • Headache

  • Rectal pain

  • Backache

  • Appetite loss

  • Alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation

  • Fatigue

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Difficulty concentrating

 

Symptoms that Suggest Inflammatory Bowel Disease may include:

Crohn’s Disease

  • Cramping abdominal pain and tenderness, particularly after meals

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • General ill feeling

  • Fever

  • Appetite loss possibly leading to weight loss

  • Bloody stool

  • Swelling, pain, stiffness in the knees and ankles

  • Cankerlike sores in the mouth

  • Eye inflammation

  • Irritation or swelling around the rectum

  • Fatigue

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Delayed growth and sexual development in younger teens, due to lack of nutrition

 

Ulcerative Colitis

  • Pain and cramping in the left side of the abdomen

  • Intermittent episodes of bloody, mucus-like stool

  • Swelling, pain, stiffness in the knees and ankles

  • Canker-like sores in the mouth

  • Fatigue

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Growth retardation in younger teens, due to lack of nutrition

 

Acute attacks may include:

  • Up to twenty bloody, loose bowel movements a day

  • Urgent need to move bowels

  • Severe cramps and rectal pain

  • Profuse sweating

  • Dehydration

  • Nausea

  • Appetite loss

  • Weight loss

  • Abdominal bloating

  • Fever 

You can see that many of the symptoms overlap, making diagnosis complicated at times. In general, the patient with ulcerative colitis has more bloody bowel movements, and the patient with Crohn’s disease experiences more pain. Not only are the symptoms subtle, but they can be minimized by cutting back on eating. So it can be difficult for parents to recognize that something is the matter.

How Irritable Bowel Syndrome is Diagnosed:

 

Physical examination and thorough medical history, plus one or more of the following procedures:

  • Urinalysis

  • Urine culture

  • Complete blood count

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (sed rate) blood test

  • Stool blood test

  • Sigmoidoscopy

How Inflammatory Bowel Disease is Diagnosed:

Physical examination and thorough medical history, plus one or more of the following procedures:

  • Complete blood count

  • Prothrombin time blood test

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (sed rate) blood test

  • Stool blood test

  • Urinalysis

  • Sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy

  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series (also known as a barium swallow)

 

other laboratory tests may be ordered.

How Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are Treated

 

All of these chronic conditions are incurable but treatable, meaning that steps can be taken on several fronts to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.

  • Changes in diet: male and females with IBS or IBD are able to eat relatively normally when the disease is in remission, which is much of the time. During flareups, though, they need to be conscientious about avoiding certain foods

  • In irritable bowel syndrome, adding roughage to the diet may be all that’s necessary to ease cramping and soften hardened stool or eliminate diarrhoea. However, high-fiber foods induce the opposite effect in a teen with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, who should stick to easy-to-digest low-residue items like broth, gelatin, skinless poultry, fish, rice, eggs and pasta. Fried foods and dairy are also taboo when the disease is active.
     

  • Drug therapy: If diet alone doesn’t bring relief from an irritable bowel, occasionally you may be prescribe an antispasmodic agent to slow down its activity.

  • Surgery: Cases of inflammatory bowel disease that resist drug therapy or develop complications may require an operation to remove part or

  • all of the colon. 

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