Chronic diarrhea is the passage of excessively liquid or frequent stools with an increased water content that lasts more than 2 weeks.
In children, it is important to seek pediatric gastroenterology service if your child suffers from chronic diarrhea. A detailed assessment by the pediatric gastroenterologist can help in establishing the cause of the symptoms.
There are many important causes of chronic diarrhea like celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s/Ulcerative Colitis), and eosinophilic gut diseases. These conditions require detailed assessment and investigations like endoscopic examination and specific medical therapies as those conditions might affect child growth and wellbeing if not managed adequately.
Red flag signs that prompt urgent assessment for chronic diarrhea include: blood and slimes in stool, fever, significant colicky abdominal pain, right side abdominal pain, urgency, recurrent mouth ulcers, joint pains, night-time symptoms, poor growth, weight loss, significant nausea, and vomiting. Blood tests and stool tests might be abnormal in these conditions.
Tests like endoscopy/ wireless capsule endoscopy, if needed, will be done by the pediatric gastroenterologists while the child is asleep using special pediatric equipment in a safe and child-friendly environment.
Other causes of chronic diarrhea like lactose intolerance, bacterial overgrowth, overflow diarrhea, fat or bile acid malabsorption, and chronic parasitic infections can be checked by the pediatric gastroenterologist using other non-invasive techniques such as breath tests, stool tests and radiological examination and the right treatment will be offered accordingly.
Other simple causes like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and toddler diarrhea are likely to be diagnosed by history and examination and managed by dietary manipulation and symptomatic relief medications.