How can you tell if your child’s persistent Diarrhea is already Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

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Know what signs to watch out for when caring for your child through their digestive problems

Though bowel problems are not exactly normal, they are pretty common in toddlers, as their digestive system is still developing and adjusting to different foods.

As they grow older, they become more accustomed to certain eating habits and their digestive woes will start to mellow out. But when is it a cause for concern?

To tell if your child's persistent bowel problems is a sign of something more serious, take note if it includes diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. If so, then it's time to call your pediatrician. Watch out for signs of dehydration—dry lips, decreased urination, low energy (lethargy) as well as stools of extremely foul odor.

Trust your gut—no pun intended.

How to know if it's developing into a serious condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

It's important to know that Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is a functional Gastrointestinal (GI) Disorder. Although its exact cause is unknown, it is believed to arise from having a hypersensitive digestive tract.

IBS is not exactly a disease, but is a condition made up of various symptoms occurring together. The most common of which are: abdominal cramping or pain, diarrhea, and in some cases, constipation.

To further determine it it could be IBS, note if the pain or discomfort is accompanied by these symptoms, which often occur after meals:

  • change in frequency of bowel movements
  • change in consistency--loose, watery, lumpy, hard--of bowels
  • pain improves with bowel movement

Also, watch out for:

  • how your child feels bowel movement is never complete
  • passing mucus-like clear liquid in stools (from intestinal) lining
  • bloating

If a child experiences abdominal discomfort at least once a week for a period of 2 months or more with no accompanying disease or injury, then pediatrician's will usually look into the possibility of IBS.

This persistent pain or cramping can be accompanied by a change in stool consistency as well as frequency. In some cases, the discomfort can be eased temporarily by bowel movement.

Not much is known about the prevalence of IBS in kids, in the Philippines at least. It's important to report any persistent bowel problems, especially because it poses the risk of dehydration.

sources: Stanford Children's Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD)

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