Understanding Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders In Children As Well As Adults

Understanding Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders In Children As Well As Adults – The digestive tract is more than merely a food processing system. It also a crucial link that connects the diet and immunity in humans. An unhealthy gut not only causes discomfort but also impacts the psychological functions too.

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders In Children

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders are common in children than adults. Persistent pain in the abdomen is the most common symptom of it.  When the pain gets relieved by stooling or it is followed by a change in frequency or consistency of the stool, the condition is called irritable bowel syndrome. When a child shows these indications, he/she needs immediate medical attention.

What Is Exactly A Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder?

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder (FGD) is a medical condition where the Gastrointestinal tract (GI) tract appears normal but doesn’t work properly. It is caused due to the extra sensitivity of the GI tract, with changes in motility or movement in the digestive system. It is to be noted that FGD is not a psychiatric disorder, although stress and anxiety can aggravate the situation. 

Facts About Gastrointestinal Disorder

A lot of people overlook many symptoms of Gastrointestinal Disorder which later leads to chronic illness. Hence there is a certain need to address all the myths surrounding digestive diseases and get to know the real facts

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Is Not A Disease

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)  is not a disease, rather a functional disorder that affects the way the muscles work in the intestines. Even though IBS syndrome can cause much pain and discomfort, it doesn’t really damage the digestive tract as diseases do. 

Alcoholism Is Not The Only Cause Of Cirrhosis

Heavy drinking is just one many causes of alcoholism. In children, Cirrhosis may be caused due to cystic fibrosis, biliary atresia, excess minerals like iron or copper in the body.

Stress and Spicy Foods Are Not The Causes Of Stomach Ulcers

Stress and spicy foods only make stomach ulcers worse. Stomach Ulcers in humans are caused either by infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter Pylori or by the use of medications like naproxen, aspirin or ibuprofen. 

Which Doctor To See Upon Noticing New Symptoms In The Digestive System?

For those who are experiencing digestive issues for the first time, it is ideal to get an appointment with a physician. Once the new symptoms are stated, the doctors can conduct a physical exam that would help in determining the tests needed to find the real causes of the symptoms. Based on the results of the tests, the doctor identifies the actual cause of the symptom and then suggests a specialist for the treatment.

When A Digestive Condition Is Already Diagnosed?

In most cases, patients who are diagnosed with chronic digestive disorders are under the observation of Gastroenterologists. In case of a relapse or a flare-up of an existing condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, contacting the same Gastroenterologist who managed the earlier treatment would be the ideal choice.

Gastroenterologists can also detect the early signs and symptoms of liver diseases thereby eliminating possible chances of liver insufficiency. 

Choosing Between A Hepatologist And Gastroenterologist For Treating A Liver Disease

A Hepatologist is a specialist who diagnoses and treats disorders of the liver, gallbladder, pancreas and biliary tree, It is considered to be the subset of gastroenterology which studies the digestive system as a unit. 

One of the major reasons people seek specialist advice from a certified Hepatologist is when experiencing a medical condition known as Hepatitis, which is essentially the inflammation of the liver. However, there are various other causes where one takes counsel of Hepatologists. They are:

Alcoholic Cirrhosis
Liver Cancer  
Drug overdose that severely affects the liver

If a person is suffering from Hepatitis C, a gastroenterologist experienced and practiced in Hepatitis C would be more effective than a Hepatologist as the former would be having a holistic approach in the treatment. 

However, if one is co-infected with Hepatitis C and HIV, the advice can be sought from an HIV specialist, as more and more numbers of HIV specialists today are trained in Hepatitis C therapies.

When To See A Gastroenterologist

There are several signs which when encountered needs the attention of a Gastroenterologist. Some of the most prominent ones are listed below. 


Less than 3 bowel movements a week indicates the problem of constipation. Constipation in most cases affects older people, people who are dehydrated or have diets comprising of minimal fiber.


It is the exact opposite of Constipation where there are too many bowel movements that are not solid. A person suffering from diarrhea goes to the loo three or more times a day. A chronic Diarrhoea could indicate a more serious underlying condition, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).


Bloating can occur due to several reasons like indigestion, food allergies, constipation etc. A gastroenterologist can discern the exact causes of bloating in children as well as adults by observing the symptoms.  

Chronic Heartburn

While heartburn is a fairly common thing, chronic heartburn can be a sign of acid reflux or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). An untreated GERD can lead to inflammation of the esophagus and later cause complications like ulcers. Gastroenterologists can determine the causes of heartburn and then suggest the appropriate treatment for it.

Blood in stool

Blood in stool is a serious signal that needs to be addressed immediately. Rectal bleeding is commonly assessed and treated by Gastroenterologists effectively. 


Haemorrhoids are inflammation of veins in the rectum that causes discomfort and bleeding. It is generally a common issue, and a gastroenterologist should be able to treat it quickly. 


Gastrointestinal disorders are one of the most overlooked medical problems as symptoms like diarrhea, constipation etc aren’t given much importance. Digestive issues in both children, as well as adolescents, could be more than just an upset stomach. Hence, getting examined by a physician or a gastroenterologist can detect the early symptoms of various digestive disorders and get it rectified quickly. 

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Article Author Details

Lynda Arbon