Children who complain of stomachaches for over three months are likely to have functional abdominal pains. The term “functional” refers to the fact that there is no structural, inflammatory, infectious, or medical cause. In other words, there is no blockage, irritation or infection to cause the pain. But the pain is very real.
Because of the pain, children may stop their usual activities and often complain of nausea, excessive gas, diarrhea or constipation. Fortunately, despite the recurrent episodes of pain, children grow well and are generally healthy.
Your child has been diagnosed with encopresis. This means that he/she passes stools into the clothing, also called “soiling”. The child is not aware of this soiling until it has already occurred. He/she is not doing this on purpose and does not have control over the soiling. Illness or physical defects do not cause this. Stool “accidents” are often commonly mistaken for diarrhea. Encopresis is most commonly caused by longstanding, often unrecognized constipation. A hard stool develops in the rectum and subsequent stool leaks out around it causing the soiling. The child begins to lose normal sensation in the rectum as the area is “stretched out” from the constipation; this contributes to further soiling.
Children and adolescents that complain of stomachaches for over 3 months are likely to have functional abdominal pain. The term “functional” means that there is no structural, inflammatory, infectious or medical cause for the pain. The pain is very real but there is no blockage, irritation or infection causing the pain. Pain , or discomfort that is associated with a change in bowel movement frequency or consistency falls under the criteria for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People with IBS can have constipation, diarrhea or both alternating. There is often a feeling of incomplete emptying or evacuation of stool. Symptoms can differ from person to person; for some IBS is merely a nuisance, others have more significant symptoms that impact daily life.
IBS is very common and affects 10%-20% of people
REFLUX IN INFANTS
Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs during or after a meal when stomach contents go back into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach). GER occurs often in normal infants. Most infants with GER are happy and healthy even though they spit up or vomit. Spitting up tends to peak at 4 months and most infants stop spitting up by 12-18 months.
The Happy Spitter
If your baby is spitting up without discomfort and is making appropriate weight gains, then he or she is probably a “happy spitter”.
Constipation is defined as difficulty passing a stool and/or the passage of hard stools. These stools can be small or large. The frequency of bowel movements varies with each child and his/her diet. see info sheet