Our everyday surroundings are already fraught with potential dangers for our teens. With all the stress they are getting from school, peer pressure and social media, coping with IBS shouldn’t be one of them.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in teenagers is quite common. It affects approximately 10 to 20 percent of the overall population. Doctors specializing in gastrointestinal problems diagnose this type of disorder. IBS is characterized by abdominal cramps and pain, as well as bloating. There is a close link between irritable bowel syndrome and stress, which causes constipation and significant changes in stool patterns.
If your teenager is suffering from IBS, then you have much better way of helping them if you know what is going on with their lives. After all, one of the basics of good parenting is communication. How do you talk to them to let them know it is safe to tell you what’s going on? Learn about this later in the article.
Let’s start with how you, as a parent, can help your child cope with the day-to-day problems brought by irritable bowel syndrome. Here is the top 15 ways you can stand beside your teenager and help them conquer IBS once and for all.
1. Effective Monitoring: Why You Need to Focus On Wellness
The key to effectively handle IBS is monitoring the probable cause. How would you gauge your frequency of communication with your teenager? Most teenagers grow up with certain sets of guidelines to follow, whether at home or in school. If you send this message in a positive way, there will be lesser pressure in their daily lives.
The biggest concerns involving irritable bowel syndrome are lower back pain, diarrhea, throwing up, and terrible stomach pains. Does your child exhibit these symptoms particularly during a stressful week in school?
It is significant to pay closer attention to your youngster if you see them experiencing any of these symptoms. It may be too early to tell whether or not the symptoms are related to IBS, but monitoring if there are any changes will help.
- Talk in a nice and friendly manner about your day they will also open up.
- Invite their friends at home and see if there are any signs of peer pressure.
- Ask about their school, workloads and how they are catching up.
2. Get Help Immediately: IBS Can Have Other Health-Risks
If you think your teenager is in trouble, you have to book an appointment with a gastroenterologist or GI. Teenagers may sometimes mistakenly assume IBS is a symptom to premenstrual syndrome or ulcers. But rather, here are some of the common symptoms to watch out for:
- Back pains targeting the lower back. Teenagers can be physically active and you might assume that the pain is because of the sports or other physical activities in school. But when your child is showing signs of IBS, there is no time for any second thoughts.
- Persistent headache. Teens can get headaches all the time, but you have to know if the headaches are more frequent and last more than a day. On that case, you have to check for possible IBS symptoms.
- Hard time getting sleep or insomnia. Most teenagers stay wide-awake late at night, especially if there are projects, deadlines or homework needed the next day. But do they find it hard falling asleep even on ordinary days?
- Muscle pain, tiredness and fatigue. These are flu-like symptoms that often leave them helpless. Look closely if there is any accompanying IBS symptom such as constipation or diarrhea.
In fact, there are several indications when your teenager is experiencing irritable bowel syndrome. Watch for these symptoms:
- Incomplete emptying of bowel. It may be hard for your teen to open up about something like this, so it is best to initiate the communication when they take time using the bathroom. Do it in a casual way.
- Sudden trips to the toilet. Check for some foul smells or unusual odors in the toilet after you catch your teen going in and out of the bathroom. If there is a lingering odor, chances are, they are having a bad case of diarrhea.
Feeling nauseated. Diarrhea most of the time is accompanied with nausea. If your child tells you they are sick and feels like throwing up, it could indicate there is a problem. Do not assume that they are just having a bad case of the stomach flu.
- Experiencing acid reflux when drinking or eating. Heartburn is a common complaint in patients with IBS symptoms. Check the frequency of this event to know when it’s time to visit the doctor.
- Change in bowel movements. IBS can make your teen constipate or have loose bowels. Whatever is the case, it is something that you shouldn’t just ignore.
- Sharp pains in the abdominal area. Your teenage daughter may complain about this, and both of you will likely assume it had to do with her periods. Monitor her frequently, and if the symptoms persist in between her monthly cycle, you may need to take her to a gastroenterologist.
3. Get Your Teenager Tested: One Step Closer to a Cure
Not all teenagers are open about their IBS. Since they are often embarrassed about the problem, they keep it to themselves. If you suspect your son or daughter is under a stressful situation, you can have them undergo a medical test to rule out IBS. However, some tests are available to rule out more serious cases related to stomach discomfort before considering IBS to be the major cause of the problem. They include:
- H-Pylori test
Learning what triggers these attacks will be helpful in managing the problem. But because IBS and anxiety have a close link, your doctor may prescribe the following treatments:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Oral Medications
- Stress Management
- Biofeedback Technique
Cognitive methods aim in solving the problems related to behavior and dysfunctional mind-sets.
Types of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The types of IBS include:
- IBS-A: Classified when the symptom is predominantly painful. This type of IBS usually comes with an irregular stool pattern.
- IBS-PI: Another case of IBS starts after an infection, which is IBS-PI or Post Infection Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- IBS-D: When the symptoms are predominantly diarrheal.
- IBS-C: For patients who experience frequent constipation.
Finding a cure is difficult since the exact cause is still unknown. It is best to identify which classification your youngster is experiencing before trying any necessary treatments.
4. Watch What is on Their Plates: How Diet and Fiber Improves IBS
Much as we want to know everything they put on their plates, we cannot watch over our teenagers 24/7. If doctor has diagnosed your teen with IBS, you need to make an extra effort in doing so.
A recent study suggests that fiber in their diet helps in relieving the symptoms. While you would not want to spoil them like toddlers, teach them to watch out for their daily food intake. This mostly has to do with what they consume during breakfast mostly. In the mornings, take time to prepare their first meal with fiber enriched foods.
Whole grains are rich in fiber and helps in shedding off digestive problems. Add more whole grains into their diet or cook something with a mix of quinoa, barley, or psyllium fiber derived from psyllium husks. You can also replace their usual diet with whole grain breads, bran flakes or brown rice.
5. Change the Usual Habits: Food Labels Can Help Reduce IBS Flare-Ups
It goes without saying now there are certain foods to avoid bringing into your home when your teenager is suffering from IBS. Leaving trigger foods that are tempting around the house isn’t going to help them. While you don’t want to trail them every single day, it helps to remind them about the consequences, just in case they have forgotten.
Most teens want to avoid the symptoms and embarrassment IBS can bring, so they are more than willing to do whatever it takes to avoid it.
Here are some foods your teenager should avoid in order to escape the possible causes of IBS.
- Fast Foods: Teenagers love going to fast food chains but these places always serves meals with one common denominator, which is fat. Mashed potatoes, French fries, hamburgers and cheese are high in fats. Any of these can cause disorder in their digestive system.
- Sugar: It’s easy to believe that candies are still one of their favorite treats. Candies are high in sugar, artificial flavors, preservatives, and artificial colors. Even some breakfast cereals have sugary ingredients.
But the worst of all are drinks that contain high amounts of sugar such as sports drinks, juices, fruit punch and sodas. In fact, artificial sweeteners cause bloating, wind and gas in anyone’s digestive tract. Thus, it is best to avoid these types of beverages with or without IBS.
- Processed Products. Highly processed products like white breads, cakes and pastries can also cause digestive problems. It is also best to avoid processed meats, like Vienna sausages and hot dogs. These foods are in low nutrients, but are high in saturated fats and sodium. Soy is one of the ingredients to avoid concerning your teenager’s digestive health.
- Gluten: Noodles, pastas, cakes and some breads are made of modified food starch. This ingredient is a common allergen, which is intolerable when you have IBS.
6. Detoxify: How Detoxification Helps Promote Healthier Body
Too much toxins in the body inadvertently worsens IBS symptoms. It is imperative to explain to your teenager how detoxification can bring health benefits to their bodies. Aside from bowel movements, you can encourage your child to get rid of the toxins through exercise (sweat) or drinking high amounts of water (to urinate).
- Consume lots of fiber including home-grown vegetables such as seaweed, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, radish and beets.
- Replace white rice with the brown variant.
- Make sure he drinks at least eight glasses of water every day.
- Maintain a well-ventilated environment to let oxygen circulate properly.
- Keep a positive vibe around the house to eliminate stress.
Detoxification works by cleansing your blood, which is done by eliminating all the toxins, and impurities found in your liver. Your body can get rid of toxins through your skin, lymph, lungs, intestines and kidneys. It helps in improving blood circulation and recharging your body with essential nutrients. To begin, you can suggest your teenager to cut back on the following;
- Saturated Fats
- Refined Sugar
Although teens are banned from using such substances, make sure to tell them that smoking and alcohol are additional triggers for IBS.
7. Manage Stress: Helping Your Teenager Cope up with Anxiety
Since stress is the major cause in most IBS cases, help your teen find ways to manage stress. If your child knows how to handle physical, emotional and mental stress altogether, it would be easier to avoid what causes IBS.
There are several options for treatment available for IBS-related psychological conditions, such as:
- Teach your teen to change their emotional response. Tell them to practice taking things lightly and optimistically.
- Help them get more sleep. A lack of sleep is a noteworthy cause of stress.
- Talk to them about keeping cool. Remind them not to stress about things they cannot change. Show them how to have faith and believe in the almighty – and themselves, too.
- Allow them to manage their time. Accept that they cannot do everything by not overscheduling their day or forcing them to participate in activities they don’t enjoy.
- Let them maintain a strong social network. They need friends and also support groups.
- Make them rest if they aren’t feeling well. Let them know that their body recovers faster when their mind and body are at rest.
Whether your doctor suggests self-hypnosis or hypnotherapy, there is no one treatment that will give the most favorable results. When you or your doctor will be able to identify the stressor successfully, a blend of psychological intervention and medications will work accordingly.
8. Get Rid of the Symptoms: Being Vigilant Can Prevent IBS From Coming Back
Remove the stressors once you recognize the cause of IBS. Whether it comes from the food they eat or the amount of schoolwork, deadlines and peer pressure, you as parents need to act immediately to avoid serious problems to arise.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disorder that comes all of a sudden. But it most cases, early intervention won’t lead to a more serious case.
9. Promoting Wellness: Everything Starts at Home
If your teenager is suffering from IBS, you have to show all the support as a family. If certain diets are required, you have to encourage everyone to eat the same healthy foods as they do. This will help them heal completely and become well again in no time.
IBS is not a disease, but rather a disorder that changes the normal function of bowel movements. If you manage it successfully at home, there will be lesser chances of hospitalization in the future due to severe attacks. With a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition for the whole family, your teenager will feel a sense of unity in a place he calls home.
10. Teach Them Tools to Take It Easy
In spite of all the efforts you put into their nutritional diet and stress management, IBS can still come back from time to time. It is necessary to find out the causes and immediate relief for this type of emergency. Stock up on medications to relieve pain related to stomach cramps.
More often than not, IBS can have other symptoms like passing of mucous, malaise, headaches, chronic back pain, foul taste, depression, anxiety, acid reflux and bloating. Consult with your doctor regarding the prescribed amount and dosage.
11. Find Effective Ways of Treatment: Talk to Your Teen’s Gastroenterologist
How would you treat a syndrome with no probable cause? Treatment varies depending on the type of IBS your teenager may be having. IBS-C patients can take advantage of fiber-rich foods as the natural and effective way of treating this type of gastrointestinal tract disorder.
Teenagers with IBS-D and other IBS types can change their diet that involves polyols, monosaccharaides, disaccharides and fermentable oligosaccharides. This diet plan consists of eliminating the five carbohydrates such as:
- Sugar Alcohols
You can also encourage your teen to take natural remedies whenever possible.
- They can start by keeping a journal about the symptoms and possible triggers to know when it is necessary to avoid certain diets.
- Aside from foods, some treatments may involve psychotherapy and daily exercise, as well as anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications.
Discuss everything with your teen’s gastroenterologist, so you’ll know about all of the possible treatments and recommendations.
12. Natural Alternatives: Safe and Invigorating for Your Teen
You can help your teen easily manage their irritable bowel syndrome in a natural way. The most obvious symptoms are changes in bowel movements, such as loose stools, watery stools and constipation.
Here is what you can do:
- If your teen is constipated, add more fiber in the foods you prepare.
- Water therapy is also essential when experiencing diarrhea to replace lost nutrients.
- You can also ask your doctor about the benefits of fiber supplements.
- When stress often gets in the way, it is best to tailor the schedule of household chores, study periods and time for leisure to what is convenient to them.
Make your home a place of comfort, rather than a place that your son or daughter will want to get away from, so they can manage their IBS better.
13. Explore Your Teenager’s Issues to Treat the Root Cause of Their IBS
Other than stress, there are several factors to look into, such as your teen may have a weak immune system or sensitive colon. A new study discovered how 10 pathogenic groups were largely involved in 91 percent of IBS cases, including:
- Giardia Lamblia
- Coxsackie Virus
Probiotics or good microorganisms help promote a healthy digestive system. Probiotics are live bacteria that are present in your intestinal tract. These work to contribute in easy food digestion.
If you want to supplement on probiotics, bifidobacterium and lactobacillus are easily found in yogurt and other dairy products. These two types of bacteria are useful in preventing gas, bloating and stomach pain that often goes with your child’s IBS. You can also avail of other probiotic supplements if your teen doesn’t like the taste of yogurt.
Having mentioned all these, it would be helpful to explore further or ask your doctor about any new treatment discoveries.
14. Encourage Your Teen to Join a Support Group
Looking for ways to combat IBS is not an easy task. The treatment of IBS does not only concentrate on the physical stress brought by diarrhea. Your child may also suffer from emotional turmoil and distress, and this will affect them mentally.
It is essential not to let them suffer from isolation during a stressful bout with their gastrointestinal disorder. Oftentimes, teenagers feel a sense of loneliness because it prevents them from going out with their friends. They find it embarrassing to be socially active when they are frequently experiencing flatulence, bloating and uncontrollable bowel movements.
It is easier today to connect with support groups to give everyone someone to lean on. By looking for support groups, you can help your teen cope with IBS.
When they speak about their concerns with other people having the same issues, they can have a whole new knowledge about the disorder. This will give them new ideas on the clinical trials and breakthroughs as well as learn about each other’s experiences. Above all, they will have clearer understanding on the efficacy of treatments available.
Search the Web
- Search for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and find out what is available online.
- Keyword specific searches will give quick results such as IBS, ibs, IBS message board, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, forum, support group and online help.
- You can also make your online search area-specific to be precise.
- Consult your healthcare professional or GI to see if there are any support groups within your area for parents and teens.
- Contact the nearest hospital to check if they know of any local support groups for IBS.
- Make your own support group by reaching out to other parents with their teens. The best time to do this is to talk to other patients or parents while waiting for your turn at the doctor’s office.
15. Stay on Course: Steps to Help You Stand by Your Child
Some IBS medications come with severe side effects that worsen the feeling of loneliness for your teen. Ask your teenager to open up and share their thoughts, even with those people who don’t have IBS symptoms. This will help everyone understand that such an illness is something to be taken seriously. When there is constant communication especially between parents and teens, it helps in easing the anxiety they feel every single day.
As family, we have to realize the difficulties our children go through when they complain about stomachaches and why they can’t come to school that day. You should not always assume that it’s all in the mind because IBS comes with underlying causes that needed immediate and serious medical attention.
Maintaining open communication is the most challenging, yet rewarding experience you can have with your teenager. Don’t be discouraged when you fall short on this area, just for now. The fact that you are searching for answers here shows that you want to be the best parent they deserve.
Irritable bowel syndrome may take a substantial toll on your teen’s lifestyle. During periods of urgent and frequent diarrhea, your child may find it difficult to concentrate on their studies, or they may want to isolate themselves. Because their bothersome symptoms can attack anytime, this may affect the confidence of your child to socialize.
Fortunately, with your support and effective strategies such as moderate exercise, stress management and dietary changes, IBS symptoms become easy for your teen to manage.