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.
Intussusception is a problem with the intestine in which one portion of the bowel slides into the next, much like the pieces of a telescope.
More to Know
Intussusception can cause a blockage in the bowel, which in turn leads to swelling, inflammation, and decreased blood flow to the part of the intestines involved. If left untreated, intussusception can cause severe complications, which are directly related to the amount of time that passes from when the intussusception occurred until it's treated.
Usually, the cause of intussusception is not known. In some cases a viral infection is thought to be the trigger. It occurs most often in kids between 6 months and 2 years of age. After being treated for intussusception, kids generally get better without any complications.
A certain kind of enema containing air or a chalky liquid called barium is used to both diagnose and treat intussusception.
Keep in Mind
Intussusception is a medical emergency. If you're concerned that your child has some or all of the symptoms of intussusception — such as repeated crampy abdominal pain, vomiting, drowsiness, or passing stools (poop) mixed with blood and mucus (known as currant jelly stool) — call your doctor or emergency medical services immediately. Most children recover completely after proper treatment.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.