Crohns Disease in Kids
Crohns disease is an inflammatory process in the small and large intestines that produces pain, discomfort, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Imagine you have the stomach flu. You are in pain, diarrhea and bent double on the way to the bathroom. Now imagine you live like that every day and youre 12.
Crohns disease in kids complicates their lives in ways we can only begin to imagine. Between the ages of 12 and 19 kids are learning to figure out who they are in the midst of hormones, teasing, bullies, and attraction to the opposite sex. Puberty and adolescence produces growing bodies, acne, strange sensations and confusion. In the middle of all of this throw in daily stomach pains, cramps and diarrhea in the school bathrooms.
It isnt surprising therefore to find that children who suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases have more psychological problems than other teens or are picky eaters. And even more interesting is the growing knowledge that it is our diets that also contribute to the increased risk of developing Crohns disease in kids.
Standard medical treatment for Crohns disease in kids involves medications to keep the inflammation under control. Doctors will often use steroids which causes puffy faces, increased thirst, weight gain and increased acne. Some children require surgical procedures if their intestines become blocked or they develop a fistula or fissure.
Crohns disease in kids and adults affects the way that nutrients are absorbed through the intestines. This plays a role in the development of several diseases or conditions that rely on specific minerals or vitamins. For instance, children who arent able to absorb enough calcium in their younger years are at a high risk for the development of osteoporosis as they age.
Kids with Crohns disease also tend to have more issues with social problems, teasing, lack of activity with other children, behavioral problems and some family dysfunction.
Some research has found that Crohns disease in kids responds well to involvement in support groups with other kids with Crohns disease. Children also respond well to families who give them structure with their eating habits and reinforce good body image. Although there is some research to suggest that there are foods that impact the pain and discomfort of Crohns disease it is usually on an individual basis. So what may affect your daughter may not affect your neighbors daughter.
Crohns disease in kids is a challenging condition for both parents and children. Kids who use the support of groups, mental health professionals and have open, understanding parents often do best in their school environment.
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