Treatment of Chronic Diarrhea in Children

Treatment of Chronic Diarrhea in Children

Chronic diarrhea can be an inconvenient and bothersome gastrointestinal (GI) symptom; but when it occurs in children, it can be even more concerning.

Causes of Chronic Diarrhea

The many reasons for chronic diarrhea include a GI infection, food intolerances, or conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or Sucrose Intolerance caused by Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID).

CSID is a disorder that causes a reduction in the activity of the digestive enzymes sucrase and isomaltase. Without these two enzymes, a child is unable to digest sucrose (table sugar). When the child with CSID consumes sucrose, GI symptoms such as chronic diarrhea typically occur.

Chronic diarrhea is classified as diarrhea that lasts for more than four weeks. Chronic diarrhea symptoms include loose stools three or more times each day. Along with diarrhea, malabsorption and dehydration can occur. Malabsorption may cause weight loss or poor weight gain in the pediatric population.

Chronic Diarrhea Treatment

The cornerstone of chronic diarrhea treatment is identifying the cause of the symptom. Your child’s physician is able to rule out conditions such as IBD, IBS, and CSID. It may be helpful to track your child’s food intake by keeping a food journal to identify any possible dietary triggers. If there are, in fact, dietary triggers than are exacerbating the symptom of chronic diarrhea, your physician may want to do further testing.

If your child’s symptom of chronic diarrhea is triggered by foods such as grains, some fruits and vegetables, or sweets, it is possible that your child may have CSID. Children and infants with CSID can have symptoms of chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. Moreover, if CSID is untreated, it may lead to malnutrition and failure to thrive.

If your child suffers from chronic diarrhea, speak to the physician and seek a diagnosis. To help evaluate symptoms before your child’s appointment, take our symptoms quiz. After your appointment, your child’s physician may recommend further testing or may refer you to a pediatric gastroenterologist.

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