Pediatric Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term our doctors use to describe a group of illnesses in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract or digestive system. When someone has IBD, parts of their GI tract get inflamed due to inappropriate immune responses in our gut. For unknown reasons, people with IBD have immune systems that are less effective at fighting foreign organisms in their GI tract. While scientists haven’t pinpointed an exact cause of IBD, we do know that IBD generally causes uncomfortable symptoms like:
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent diarrhea
- Bloody stool and bleeding inside the rectum
You may have already heard of the two of the most common forms of IBD that we treat at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Even though both fall under IBD, they each have qualities that make them unique. Be sure not to confuse IBD with the similarly abbreviated irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); they're different illnesses and IBS cannot be treated with surgery.
What is Crohn's Disease?
A child with Crohn’s Disease will have inflammation in patches throughout their GI tract (from the mouth to their rectum). However, it’s common for Crohn’s disease to start in the small intestine before spreading to the colon or large intestine. This type of IBD also permeates all layers of the GI tract instead of a single layer.
What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis describes inflammation that’s a single continuous patch from the rectum and up the large intestine. This inflammation is also found exclusively on the innermost layer of the patient’s colon.
How will my child be tested for IBD?
Our doctors employ several tests to ensure your child gets the correct treatment for their ailment. These include tests like:
- Stool & Blood Samples - Lab technicians will analyze these to check for signs of other infections that may be causing your child’s symptoms.
- Endoscopies & Imaging - Doctors use cameras to look at the inside of the GI tract and search for visual signs of inflammation.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatments in Fort Myers
Treatment for IBD depends entirely on your child’s case. There is no one-size-fits-all solution because everyone’s IBD is slightly different. There are many medications and biologics that the care team can prescribe depending on the case of IBD expresses itself. Doctors will also make sure your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date to give them the best chance of fighting infections in their gut. Depending on the severity of your child’s case, your care team may recommend surgery to remove the inflamed parts of their intestines. Doing so has been shown to help people manage their IBD better long term. Your child’s care team at Golisano Children’s Hospital of SWFL will know the best combination of treatments for their health needs.
Need to learn more about getting your child tested for IBD?
Check out Lee Health's Pediatric Gastroenterology Department!