The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation estimates that of the approximately 1.6 million individuals in the U.S. who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis, around 80,000 are below 18 years old. In this light, it’s imperative that parents are aware of the warning signs of pediatric ulcerative colitis. Early diagnosis of this condition could result in early treatment that will help children and their parents better manage the condition.
Common Warning Signs and Diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis
Unfortunately, there’s still no known specific cause of ulcerative colitis, but reputable pediatric specialists in Salem and the world over agree that it’s most likely due to a complex interaction between intestinal bacteria, the environment, and genetics. However, while diarrhea is a common indication of pediatric ulcerative colitis, don’t fret if your kid gets diarrhea from time to time. In most cases, ulcerative colitis is characterized by urgent and frequent diarrhea, fevers, abdominal cramps or pain, unexplained weight loss, bloody stools, and unexplained fatigue. If your pediatrician suspects ulcerative colitis, your kid will need to undergo lab tests, endoscopic procedures, and x-rays to diagnose the disease.
Treatment of Pediatric Ulcerative Colitis
In most young individuals with this disease, treatment will involve medication, specifically corticosteroids to ease symptoms of flare-ups like bloody diarrhea and stomach pain. Once these symptoms are under control, the majority of kids with ulcerative colitis could remain in remission by diligently taking other medications such as immunomodulators, aminosalicylates, and TNF-alpha blockers. Still, while most pediatric ulcerative colitis cases can be managed with the right combination of medications, in some cases, surgery for removing a part of the large intestine may be required.
Pediatric Ulcerative Colitis Flare-ups and Diet
A huge part of keeping flare-ups or ulcerative colitis in check is diet. Just to be clear, diet does not really cause ulcerative colitis, but it can certainly affect your kid’s symptoms. To prevent flare-ups, don’t give your kid processed food, sugary food, dairy, and grain. Give him meat, nuts, fruits, and veggies instead. During a flare-up, don’t give your kid dairy, fiber-rich food such as raw fruit and veggies, popcorn, caffeinated beverages, and legumes.
When your kid is experiencing a flare-up, give him well-cooked, soft, and bland fruits and veggies, lots of water, particularly if he has diarrhea, plain white rice, and peanut butter. It’s also a good idea to consult a nutritionist to help make sure that your kid is receiving sufficient nutrition because some kids with ulcerative colitis are prone to mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
It’s also important to note that there’s a possibility that ulcerative colitis can trigger other health problems in kids as they grow older or during flare-ups, especially if ulcerative colitis isn’t managed properly. Studies indicate that as many as 25% of individuals with this disease will develop some form of arthritis regardless of age. In addition, there’s an increased risk of vision issues and cancer with people who have ulcerative colitis. With early and consistent treatment and careful management, the majority of kids with ulcerative colitis will go on to lead generally healthy and normal lives.