It's not uncommon for children to come home with a stomach bug, or to experience an upset stomach after eating something too rich or sugary. However, not all GI issues with kids are normal, one-off incidents that you can or should shrug off. Some are quite serious and do require a doctor's care. If your child is experiencing any of these problems, you should arrange for them to see a pediatric GI specialist.
Children should gain weight steadily as they grow taller and older. If a child loses weight, especially if they were not overweight to start with, this is often a sign that something is amiss. There are many, many ailments that can cause weight loss in kids, ranging from eating disorders to bone cancer. However, many cases of weight loss are due to a GI issue, such as lactose intolerance, celiac disease, or even irritable bowel syndrome. So, taking them to a GI specialist is a good way to start looking for a diagnosis. If the GI specialist does not find anything amiss, they can refer your child on to the next specialist they feel your child should see.
Occasional diarrhea a few times a year is one thing, and not necessarily outside the realm of what's normal. But if your child seems to have diarrhea or loose stools often or persistently, that's another matter. They may have irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, or even an autoimmune disorder. Diarrhea puts a child at risk for dehydration and can also be really embarrassing, so this is something you want to have addressed sooner rather than later. A GI specialist can often prescribe medications that ease the symptoms while they look for a diagnosis.
Do you notice your child's abdomen often looks distended and bloated? Maybe your child complains about their tummy feeling full or puffy. Depending on their age, they may not know the right terminology to describe what they're dealing with, so you may need to ask a few questions here. Bloating can indicate celiac disease or another food intolerance, certain cancers, or IBS. It can make a child uncomfortable, so seeking a diagnosis is really important.
Pediatric GI specialists know what questions to ask and what tests to run when a child presents with digestive symptoms. If your child is experiencing any of the problems above, feel free to reach out to a pediatric doctor and make an appointment.