Inflammatory bowel disease refers to two chronic (or recurring) conditions called “Crohn’s disease” and “ulcerative colitis,” which cause redness and swelling (inflammation) in parts of the intestinal tract. Like asthma, IBD symptoms in children occur in bouts — periodically flaring up for sometimes weeks or months.
What’s the Difference Between IBS and IBD?
Often confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), IBD is a condition that can cause the intestines to narrow and restrict food from moving through the bowel. IBS is a functional disorder, which means the digestive system looks perfectly normal, but it doesn’t work exactly like it should. IBD and IBS have many similar symptoms, but IBS doesn’t cause blood in the stool (bowel movements or poop) like IBD can.
Crohn’s vs. Ulcerative Colitis in Children
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both inflammatory bowel diseases that cause inflammation to different parts of the digestive system. Crohn’s can occur anywhere along the intestinal tract, but it’s commonly found in the last segment of the small intestine (ileum) and the large intestine (colon). Ulcerative colitis mostly affects the colon.
Crohn’s impacts the entire thickness of the intestine and can affect more than one section of the intestinal tract. In contrast, ulcerative colitis occurs only within the inner lining of the organ and is found only in one spot.
What Causes IBD in Children?
The exact cause of IBD in children is unknown. However, experts agree that the environment, genetics, and/or diet may have something to do with it. Scientists believe that an overactive immune system may trigger inflammation in response to an offending agent, like a virus or certain foods. Researchers are actively studying IBD to get to the bottom of possible causes, and hopefully help relieve IBD symptoms in children and adults.
May also be called: Gastroesophageal Reflux; GER; GERD; Acid Reflux; Chronic Heartburn; Peptic Esophagitis; Reflux Esophagitis; Dyspepsia
Gastroesophageal (gas-tro-ih-sah-fuh-JEE-ul) reflux disease, or GERD, is a disorder that results from stomach acid moving backward from the stomach back up into the esophagus.
More to Know
Food travels down the esophagus to reach the stomach. The valve-like muscle where the esophagus joins the stomach is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When the LES opens at the wrong time or does not close properly, it can allow stomach acid to move backward into the esophagus. This can lead to a burning sensation (heartburn) in the chest and throat and can eventually cause damage to the lining of the esophagus if it goes untreated.
Keep in Mind
Almost everyone gets heartburn from time to time. People with GERD have symptoms more often, but symptoms usually can be controlled or lessened with medications or diet and lifestyle changes.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.