What Are GI Concerns Among Children (0 –18)?


An occasional stomach ache or rumbling tummy is quite a common occurrence for children and teens of all ages. But in the event the discomfort becomes more consistent, are you familiar with what solutions might help? If your little one requires pediatric GI care in Little Rock, AR, we invite you to partner with our gastroenterology experts. At GastroArkansas, we have the knowledge and expertise necessary to provide effective treatment options. Read on to find out additional details about common childhood GI conditions, along with a few helpful tips and tricks from our team.

How frequently are children impacted by digestive conditions?

As reported by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, 40 to 50% of medical visits with a pediatric gastroenterology physician are because of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Constipation, or encopresis, is present in around 10 to 25% of children who are advised to visit a pediatric GI specialist, and about 17% of high school-age students report symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Our Little Rock, AR gastroenterology providers aim to help your family determine solutions for pediatric gastrointestinal concerns.

What types of GI conditions are commonly seen in teens, children, and infants?

Some pediatric gastrointestinal disorders common in teenagers, children, and infants include:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Persistent heartburn in children and infants might result in a diagnosis of GERD. Common signs and symptoms involve burping, lack of a desire to eat, vomiting, stomach pain, hiccups, and choking or gagging.

Lactose intolerance: A treatable issue, lactose intolerance is among the digestive disorders affecting children of all ages. It occurs when your body fails to metabolize the sugar present in dairy, known as lactose. A stomach ache, loose or watery stool, bloating, or gas experienced after consuming dairy are all signs of lactose intolerance. Consuming lactase enzymes before eating dairy can enable the body to process lactose properly.

Constipation: Constipation develops when stool becomes dry, large, and/or difficult to pass. In children, constipation can lead them to avoid using the bathroom. Avoiding bowel movements can lead to further constipation concerns and additional GI discomfort.

IBD (inflammatory bowel disease): This digestive health problem may arise in children and teens. IBD includes two individual GI diseases. Ulcerative colitis leads to inflammation in the colon (large intestine), while Crohn’s disease can impact all areas of the GI tract. Common signs and symptoms of both diseases may include watery or bloody bowel movements and stomach discomfort.

Celiac disease: Celiac disease is a GI condition that occurs when an adverse reaction occurs as a result of ingesting products containing gluten. Gluten is a protein present in wheat, rye, and barley. If the condition is uncontrolled, it can cause serious damage to the small intestine and keep your child's body from absorbing essential nutrients from food.

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE): This condition affects the esophagus. EoE can result in chronic allergic inflammatory disease. Children can experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, regurgitation, and a burning feeling similar to acid reflux. Additionally, they may gag frequently and have trouble swallowing.

What steps can be taken to maintain good digestive health in kids?

We understand that as a parent, you want to do what's best for your children. This includes everything from planning appointments to making sure they consume a healthy and balanced diet. Some ways to help your child maintain gut health are to infuse these suggestions into their everyday life:

  • Set time to eat meals as a family: Make meals enjoyable for every member of your family and incorporate a family mealtime. Doing so provides stability and consistency. Allowing your toddlers to feed themselves during family meals is also a good way to help them develop a healthy relationship with food.
  • Slow down when eating: We know that between after-school commitments and hanging out with friends, it is tempting for your teenager to grab something from the pantry and go. Make sure they take time to enjoy the food they eat to prevent stomach discomfort.
  • Control portion sizes: The amount of food eaten can impact how food is digested. If a child eats in excess, it can cause digestion difficulties and end up resulting in stomach upset.

For additional suggestions on how to help your child experience good digestive health, request an appointment with our team at GastroArkansas. Our providers will work with you to find an approach that fits your family’s needs and lifestyle.

Find care for pediatric GI disorders in Little Rock, AR

Pediatric digestive health concerns do not have to cause persistent, unmanageable pain. You can access digestive solutions for every member of your family. For more information on the common gastrointestinal disorders affecting children, please request an appointment at GastroArkansas. Our digestive health group provides pediatric digestive care in Little Rock, AR that can help your child experience optimal GI wellness now and in the future.