Managing Crohn's Disease in Children

Crohn’s disease can be difficult to manage at any age, but can have several negative effects on children and teenagers. According to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, twenty percent of all cases of Crohn’s disease affect children. Young children with Crohn’s disease may have difficulty concentrating in school because they are suffering from painful cramps or dealing with diarrhea. The effects of Crohn’s disease can also delay development and may stunt the growth process. The severity of symptoms vary significantly by child, but you can help your child manage the effects of this disease by educating yourself about Crohn’s disease and making appropriate lifestyle changes.

Talk to your doctor about managing Crohn’s disease in children and teens, especially if your child is missing school or having difficulty participating in social activities because of the effects of the disease. Your doctor can evaluate the symptoms and customize a treatment plan that will help to improve your child or teen’s lifestyle.

Here are some essential tips for managing Crohn’s disease in children:

Detect Symptoms and Effects of Medications Early

Identifying symptoms and any negative effects of medications early is essential for managing the disease in children, especially younger children. Be aware of some of the following symptoms, and log the time and day that these symptoms appear. Your doctor may be able to detect patterns and determine whether certain medications or lifestyle habits may be triggering some of the negative effects of this disease. Some of the symptoms to keep an eye out for, include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Blood in the stools
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • High fever

Children who are losing weight rapidly may need to see a dietitian and ensure that they are getting the nutrients they need to be healthy. If they are not able to absorb certain nutrients properly, they may need to take supplements or eat a special diet.

Diet Modifications for Children with Crohn’s Disease

Eating certain types of foods can cause severe inflammation of the digestive tract, so children and teens diagnosed with Crohn’s disease need to be very careful about the types of foods they eat on a daily basis. Most doctors and nutritionists recommend a high-calorie, high-protein diet for Crohn’s disease sufferers. Sufferers must also reduce and eliminate fiber in the diet, eliminate diet products if they are lactose intolerant, and also avoid excessive carbohydrate intake. There is no specific diet for people with Crohn’s disease, but certain types of foods and beverages do need to be avoided.

More information about Diet and Nutrition Tips for People with Crohn’s Disease can be found here.

Emotional Health and Crohn’s Disease

The effects of Crohn’s disease can have an effect on your child’s emotional health. They may experience mood swings because of their illness or as a reaction to certain medications. They may become self-conscious about their appearance, and become frustrated about their physical limitations. Many have to deal with social problems, including coping with being teased at school, and peer pressure about their food choices. Professional counseling may help your child learn healthy coping techniques and encourage them to remain positive.

Set up an appointment with a doctor in your area if you need advice about managing Crohn’s disease in children. Your physician can keep track of symptoms and effects of different medications, and make adjustments to the treatment plan as needed.