Inflammatory Bowel Disease (or IBD) affects one million Americans and as many as 100,000 youth under the age of 18. In fact, most people affected by the disease tend to be between 15 and 35 years old. Cases have even been found in infants under 18 months.
There are two main types of IBD: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. In Crohn’s Disease there is swelling and inflammation where the small and large intestines meet. It can attack any part of the digestive system, including the mouth and oesophagus. Ulcerative Colitis is limited to an inflammation of the inner lining of the colon and/or rectum.
Symptoms include tiredness, acute diarrhea, anal bleeding, weight loss, fever, abdominal cramping and in very severe cases delays in growth and development. For the latter reason it is extremely important to listen to your child’s health complaints. It is imperative to seek advice from a medical professional if your child complains often or shows significant signs of the above symptoms.
Though there is no cure for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, a doctor can prescribe medicine to relieve the pain and discomfort of the symptoms. If necessary, surgery can be used to remove the affected regions, perhaps reducing future flare-ups.
Outside of a visit to the doctor, dietary changes are necessary in order to avoid malnutrition. During episodes of the disease it is important to eat small, frequent meals and drink plenty of liquids in order to stay nourished and hydrated. A high fiber diet is often recommended during periods of calm and the opposite during flare-ups. Fish oil and flax-seed oil are thought to reduce episodes.