Supporting your child with medically diagnosed IBS
We’re learning more about medically diagnosed IBS in children. Hopefully some of these ideas will help ease your child’s symptoms to help them navigate life with this condition.
Medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) wasn’t officially recognised in children until 1995. While there’s only limited research on the prevalence of IBS in children, broader analysis shows that around one in five Australians experience symptoms at some time.
Abdominal pain is one of the most common reasons for parents taking their children to the doctor, and parents are certainly advised to consult a healthcare practitioner if their child experiences persistent digestive issues.
Common symptoms of IBS may present as an otherwise healthy child who has frequent stomach pain, discomfort, or cramps, along with diarrhea or constipation (or both). If your child is experiencing these symptoms, it’s vital to see their doctor for a proper diagnosis and to rule out anything more serious. Medical diagnosis of IBS may occur if your child has been experiencing the above symptoms at least once a week for at least two months.
Your doctor can tailor a therapeutic strategy to your child’s needs, helping them handle IBS. Your child may need to adapt their diet, take certain medications and learn to manage stress.
Your child may benefit from eating smaller meals more often. Keeping a food diary can help to identify which foods seem to trigger your child’s symptoms, but it’s best to get help from a dietician before eliminating foods as your child needs good nutrition. FODMAPs are a group of sugars found in many foods that may aggravate your child’s gut, causing bloating, gas and abdominal discomfort.
Working with a registered dietician, your child may temporarily limit their intake of FODMAPs for a few weeks, then, under their dietician’s guidance, begin to reintroduce them in a way that suits their body. The aim is to enable your child to have as few dietary restrictions as possible.
IBS can be worsened by stress, with older children reporting an increase in symptoms during emotionally intense times. There are many things you can do to help your child stay calm and happy. Be available to listen to their concerns or step outside together for some fresh air and fun. Getting professional help to work through their thoughts and feelings can help some children to manage their symptoms.
With your love and encouragement and a supportive healthcare team, your child can hopefully adopt the best diet and stress-relief techniques to help them manage their IBS. In addition to the above diet and lifestyle advice, you may also want to consider supplementing their intake of beneficial bacteria with a probiotic.
Probiotics support healthy levels of ‘good’ bacteria in your child’s gut. Just like vitamins, each probiotic strain can have a different purpose. Life-Space Children IBS Support Probiotic contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, which may help to relieve the symptoms of pain and discomfort associated with medically diagnosed IBS.
It also includes zinc to help support the metabolism of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) as well as additional probiotic strains to help support your child’s general digestive health.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare practitioner. Supplements should not replace a balanced diet.