Gastroenteritis and associated problems

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Quite often we see gastroenteritis which then leads to a child’s gut being sensitised to various proteins such as cow’s milk protein, wheat protein, soya protein, egg protein or others and this can cause an irritable bowel syndrome-type picture in a child with crampy abdominal pain and what we call motility, which is disrupted in a child’s bowel, So the child’s bowel can alternate with diarrhoea or constipation and crampy abdominal discomfort. Essentially it is not working as it should in a normal rhythmic fashion to move things from the top to the bottom and this leads to problems. Sometimes the constipation needs to be addressed, sometimes the diarrhoea needs to be sorted out and the symptoms of crampy abdominal discomfort needs to treated with spasmodic medicines. Exclusion diets can be helpful for a short period of time, usually for about a month, and one food at a time is usually good practice. Usually this gets better with time. Occasionally gastroenteritis can precipitate a child who is susceptible tipping over in to full blown inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease but this is much less usual.

Investigations usually involve faeces examination, blood tests and only very occasionally endoscopy and colonoscopy. An abdominal ultrasound or x-ray can show if there is any loading of the colon with faeces.

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