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When to See a Pediatric Gastroenterologist?

Good digestive health remains important throughout life. However, it is particularly crucial when it comes to children. Having a healthy diet and getting proper nutrition are important factors that ensure proper growth and development of your child. If your child has good digestive health, he or she is likely to grow taller, gain optimal weight, and reach all developmental milestones physically and mentally.

When it comes to kids, tummy ache is bound to happen occasionally. From an adolescent with tummy problems to babies who spit up, kids of all ages have their fair share of stomach problems. While stomach ailments are common, parents still need to be concerned. They need to understand that a harmless spit up or stomach pain can even be a symptom of a big issue. You need to monitor the situation properly and look for signs indicating that you need to see a pediatric gastroenterologist in Chennai.

What is the normal digestive health for children? Proper digestive health is all about getting the right food at the right time. In the case of kids, this usually means three meals per day along with snacks twice and sufficient water for staying hydrated. Of course, good digestion also involves bowel movements regularly. The right number of bowel movements differ from child to child. It can range from twice or thrice a day to even just one time a week. Just make sure it is consistent and your child isn’t experiencing any pain. With good digestion and regular bowel movements, your child will continue to grow how he/she is supposed to.

Common digestive ailments faced by children Kids are likely to face different digestive issues, which are usually associated with the stage of their development. Some of the common issues include:

Abdominal pain: Stomach ache is quite a non-specific problem that ranges from functional abdominal pain to constipation. This also includes a condition called abdominal migraines when stomach ache results from stress. Almost one-fourth of abdominal pain-related concerns among children are related to constipation. • Reflux: Spit up is extremely common among infants and most babies have it to a certain extent. However, reflux can become a problem if your baby is unable to absorb nutrients or gain weight. Generally, reflux tends to get worse when your baby is around 4 months old and he/she is trying to sit up more. Typically, it tends to improve after around 6 months. • Diarrhea: It is a more common stomach ailment among toddlers. Young children tend to experience diarrhea as they start experimenting with new drinks and food. Diarrhea is more likely if your child consumes sugary juice or drinks. Potty training may also cause toddlers to experience discomfort and pain abdominally, which can cause constipation. What signs to look out for? Signs of digestive health problems can manifest in various forms. You need to consult a child specialist if you notice these signs:

A foul smell of the stool: Viruses or bacteria may cause infections, which results in inflammation in the intestine. A common symptom of these infections is foul-smelling stool. In most cases, the body itself does what’s necessary to get rid of these foreign invaders. However, in some cases, your child may need to take antibiotics for treating the condition. A foul and greasy stool can also be a sign of malabsorption, which may be caused due to cystic fibrosis or celiac disease. • Bloody diarrhea: Blood in the diarrhea of your child could be an indication of an inflammatory bowel disease, which is an autoimmune disease, or an infection. • Bloody, green, or persistent vomiting: Something as small as food getting stuck can cause vomiting in your child, but in some cases, it could be caused by conditions like acute pancreatitis and cyclic vomiting syndrome. Check if the vomit contains food recently eaten by your child and see if any blood is present in the vomit. Also, check the color of the vomit. You need to get in touch with your child specialist if the color of the vomit is dark green, if it is bloody, or if it persists for more than 1-2 days. • Irregular bowel movements and bloody stools: Some signs that indicate the need to see a pediatric gastroenterologist include reduced bowel movements, blood in the stool, or painful bowel movements. It is more a cause of concern if these symptoms persist for over 2 weeks. It can be an indication of constipation or even the presence of a polyp. How does a GI specialist help? While some digestive ailments resolve on their own, others need medical attention. A pediatric gastroenterologist in Chennai, from Rainbow Children’s Hospital can help your child manage chronic conditions like cyclic vomiting syndrome and IBS like Crohn’s disease. Not just that, they can help with the diagnosis and treatment of common illnesses that may not have responded to normal treatment.


Senior Consultant – General Pediatrics & Pediatric Intensive Care and Emergency, Chennai MBBS,MD,DM