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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) describes a common group of symptoms that often includes abdominal pain associated with changes in bowel movements.
Pediatric gastroenterologists are not sure what causes irritable bowel syndrome. The nerves and muscles in the bowel appear to be extra sensitive in people with IBS. Muscles may contract too much when a child eats. These contractions can cause cramping and diarrhea during or shortly after a meal. Another possibility is that nerves may react when the bowel stretches causing cramping or pain.
IBS can be painful, but it does not damage the colon or other parts of the digestive system. IBS does not lead to other health problems.
Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include:
If your child experiences symptoms of IBS, a pediatric gastroenterologist can usually diagnose the condition based on symptoms alone. Sometimes, they will order tests to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms (like celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease). Diagnostic exams and tests include:
Irritable bowel syndrome has no cure, but you can help your child take actions to relieve symptoms. Treatment may involve:
Visit the websites below to find support groups and services and learn more about irritable bowel syndrome.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
This National Institutes of Health website offers in-depth information about IBS symptoms, treatments and clinical trials.
This website from the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders provides extensive information about IBS in children and teens.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.
Sort through 7 facilities offering Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) care by entering your city or zip below.