Have you ever dealt with a distressed child? Or perhaps your child has been so sick that their tears do nothing but make you feel helpless and lose all hope. Sometimes, what causes so much discomfort can be filtered down to digestive problems in your child. These digestive problems can range from lactose intolerance to intestinal colic and other digestive issues. This article is to help give you a better understanding on what these issues are and how to go about them.
Please Note: Only a Pediatrician Can Accurately Diagnose and Treat Any Illness or Discomfort Your Child Feels.
1. Common Feeding Problems
MILK ALLERGY: Caused largely by a child’s immune response to certain proteins in that are present in milk (especially cow’s milk).
There are 2 groups of this allergy; the immunoglobulin E (Ige) mediated and the non-immunoglobulin E mediated allergy. The former presents its symptoms within 2 hours of consumption whilst the latter can take from 2 to 7 days before symptoms begins to present itself.
Symptoms of Cow’s Milk Allergy
Both Ige and non-Ige mediated allergy have common symptoms that range from skin reactions like itchy skin(pruritus), skin rashes to gastrointestinal symptoms like abdominal pain. Symptoms specific to each group are as follows:
IGE-MEDIATED: Symptoms are hives, swelling of lips, tongue and palate, itching of the mouth, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
NON-IGE MEDIATED: Common symptoms include eczema, reflux problems, diarrhea or constipation (but never both at once), redness in the anus, decreased growth due to malabsorption of nutrients.
Diagnosis and Treatment
- Diagnosing a milk allergy often entails thoroughly going through family history of the child (in case there is a history of allergy), as well as the feeding history of the child (to see method and source of feeding). Ige mediated allergies are often diagnosed with specific antibody testing whilst non-Ige mediated is diagnosed through eliminating certain foods from the baby’s menu (or the mother’s if the child is being breast fed).
- When laying out your complaints, its important you give the doctors every detail of what you observed during the exacerbation of the allergy. Also, an information on how much food was ingested to cause such a reaction would be very helpful.
- A physical examination as well as the weight and height of the child is needed to check obvious signs like eczema and rashes. It also helps with getting a differential diagnosis.
Management of Milk Allergies in Kids
- Ensure the baby’s diet (and mother’s diet in breast fed babies) are void of cow’s milk for at least half a year.
- Infants who are fed using instant formula should have their formulas changed. There are a lot of alternatives out there in the market ranging from goat-milk to soy-based formula that are not only convenient but also safe and organic. Fortunately, organicsbestshop.com have amazing options that you can choose from that would help you through this trying times
- Make sure to work hand in hand with a dietician to help you through the process. Research has shown that, overtime, 50 percent of Ige-mediated allergic children outgrow their allergies from age 5. It is almost 100 percent for non-Ige-mediated allergic children.
2. Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (Gerd)
This is a reflux of stomach contents (and usually acid on an empty stomach) to the upper GI tract(esophagus). It is caused by the inability of the esophageal sphincter (the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus) to relax and close.
This is a common and disturbing disease in children and symptoms can begin to manifest as early as 2 months old. Symptoms often include:
- Chronic cough (I.e. coughing for a long time)
- Loss of appetite
- Heart burn
- Hoarseness of voice
- In severe cases, nausea and vomiting.
Treatment and Management
- For breast-fed babies, an alginate therapy for 2 weeks is often recommended. Alginate helps form a physical barrier on your baby’s stomach to prevent reflux.
- For formula- fed babies, the first prophylactic measure is to reduce the volume of food given and increase its frequency instead. So, if you give 200ml of food 6 times a day, you should now give 100ml of food, 10 times a day.
- Ensure that carobel is added to the milk formula you feed your child. Carobel is a thickener that keeps the food thick, even in the stomach. This prevents further reflux.
- If the symptoms don’t improve afterwards, then treat with either omeprazole or ranitidine. However, this should be discussed with your pediatrician.
Though the cause of colic still remains unknown, it doesn’t make any less a distressful and frustrating experience. It is characterized by excessive crying in babies that can last for a long period of time. It is colic when your baby has been crying for more than 3 hours a day, 3 days a week and 3 weeks in a month.
It can manifest in a baby as early as 2 weeks and go on for months. There are no specific symptoms but manifestations can range from loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and even a fever.
An immediate medical attention should be sort out for because sometimes colic might be a symptom to an underlying medical pathology.
Ensure that as a parent, you are rested and relaxed. It’s important to have a support system.
4. Lactose Intolerance
This is by far the most common digestive problems that infants experience. Lactose is a sugar that id derived from milk during digestion. The inability to break this sugar any further is what causes lactose intolerance in babies and even some adults. Its symptoms are usually bloating, pain, diarrhea, sometimes nausea.
There are 2 groups of lactose intolerance in people:
- Primary lactose intolerance: genetically, it’s an autosomal recessive condition and symptoms can manifest at any given age.
- Secondary lactose intolerance: this is caused by damage to the intestinal mucosa. This often occurs due to infections like gastroenteritis (an inflammation of the GI tract due to bacterial or viral infection).
- Congenital lactose intolerance: extremely rare condition that affects infants as early as the first few days or weeks of life.
A lactose free diet often helps reduce symptoms.