Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) commonly affects children's large intestines. It can cause abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

Pediatric Gastroenterologists

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What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Children?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in children is caused by a range of factors, including:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Changes in dietary habits
  • Food sensitivities or allergies
  • Certain medications, such as antibiotics
  • Bacterial overgrowth in the gut
  • Hormonal changes during puberty
  • Digestive abnormalities

Signs & Symptoms

Parents need to keep track of their child's symptoms, including when they started and how frequently they occur. The signs and symptoms of IBS in children may include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Bloating and gas
  • Constipation (having hard or infrequent stools)
  • Diarrhea (loose, watery stools)
  • Feeling like there is still stool to be passed after a bowel movement
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • Vomiting or retching

Two freshman boys smilingDiagnosis

To help arrive at a diagnosis, doctors may ask questions about family history and perform physical examinations.

They may also order blood tests, stool tests, X-rays, or ultrasounds to rule out other conditions such as allergies, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis.


The treatment of irritable bowel syndrome in children depends on the individual child and the specific symptoms they are experiencing.

Treatment aims to reduce pain and improve overall gastrointestinal health.

Some suggested treatments for IBS in children include:

  • Food avoidance strategies
  • Dietary changes
  • Medications
  • Gut-directed therapy (such as hypnotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Probiotics


Preventing irritable bowel syndrome in children primarily focuses on avoiding triggers and developing healthy habits.

Parents may want to discuss potential triggers with their child's doctor, such as food or stress levels. These include:

  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Getting adequate sleep

CHRISTUS Children's - Gastroenterology Clinic

CHRISTUS Children's Gastroenterology Clinic has a team of professionals providing diagnosis and treatment of common and complex gastrointestinal conditions experienced by children of all ages from premature infants through adolescence.

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CHRISTUS Children's has a monthly Prader-Willi syndrome multidisciplinary clinic based in San Antonio, Texas. If you or your child has a confirmed diagnosis of Prader-Willi, you can be referred to the clinic to receive coordinated care from our experienced specialists, including geneticists, ENT doctors, endocrinologists, pulmonologists, sleep medicine specialists, psychologists, dietitians, social workers, and speech pathologists.


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