Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Children

About Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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.

A to Z Symptom: Vomiting

A to Z Symptom: Vomiting

May also be called: Puking; Throwing Up; Emesis

More to Know

Vomiting itself is rarely harmful, though it is upsetting. In most cases, vomiting goes away on its own with proper home care.


Vomiting can have many causes. Most cases are due to viral gastroenteritis, often called the "stomach flu," and can be accompanied by fever, nausea, and diarrhea.

Vomiting can be a symptom of a virus or bacteria infecting the gastrointestinal tract, like rotavirus, norovirus, salmonellosis, shigellosis, E. coli, and a number of others. The term "food poisoning" usually refers to the vomiting and diarrhea caused by bacteria that have contaminated food or drink.


For most people who have vomiting due to gastroenteritis, no food and no liquids by mouth for a short time, followed by clear liquids, will be treatment enough. Ask your doctor about suitable liquids. After 8 hours with no vomiting, slowly introduce bland and mild foods, such as toast, crackers, rice, and mashed potatoes.

It's best for someone with vomiting to avoid being around others until 24 hours after all symptoms end.

In some cases, vomiting can cause dehydration, which requires prompt medical treatment.

Vomiting that lasts for more than a few hours or keeps happening might have other, more serious causes. If this happens, call your doctor. He or she can find and treat the underlying cause.

Keep in Mind

Washing hands well and often is the best way to help prevent spreading contagious infections affecting the stomach and intestines. Everyone in your family should wash their hands after using the bathroom and before eating or preparing food.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

Reviewed by:
Date reviewed: September 05, 2017