Digesting the Details: A Guide to Paediatric Gastroenterology
Gastric diseases among children encompass a spectrum of conditions. These range from common disorders treatable by general paediatricians to more complex and chronic ones that necessitate the expertise of super-specialized physicians. The branch of medicine that specializes in treating the latter is paediatric gastroenterology and the doctors specializing in it are referred to as paediatric gastroenterologists.
These healthcare experts diagnose and treat infants, children, and adolescents suffering from a compromised digestive system. However, it is deemed essential for parents and caregivers also to have basic knowledge of paediatric gastroenterology.
Let’s explore the various aspects of this super-specialization, ranging from common diseases to diagnostic procedures.
Common Paediatric Gastroenterology Conditions:
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): A common condition in infants, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is characterized by the regurgitation of gastric contents or food into the esophagus. This occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) fails to prevent the reflux.
When the cause of the reflux is pathological rather than physiological and it is causing troublesome symptoms and/or complications, it is termed as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, commonly referred to as GERD. Usually, GERD among infants can be diagnosed by clinical evaluation.
In certain cases, however, upper gastrointestinal (GI) series and even esophageal pH measurement or endoscopy can be prescribed. This disorder can lead to serious complications among infants and children, so if you observe any symptoms, it is advisable to consult a paediatric gastroenterologist.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Disorders that typically involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract are termed as Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are the two common types of IBD. These conditions not only affect adults but also children.
The IBD diagnosed in children is referred to as Paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (PIBD). The disease is generally caused by immunological, genetic, and environmental factors. PIBD is characterized by diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and fatigue—common symptoms which are also observed in adults.
If a child is suspected of inflammatory bowel disease, medical evaluation and care from a paediatric gastroenterologist is advisable.
Celiac Disease: It is one of the autoimmune diseases affecting children, typically requiring the expertise and specialization of paediatric gastroenterology. In this condition, a child's immune system triggers inflammation and damage to the small intestine's lining upon the ingestion of gluten.
The first signs of celiac disease in children often emerge after the child begins consuming solid foods like cereal. Diarrhea, decreased appetite, stomach pain, fatigue, and stunted growth are some of the common symptoms to watch out for.
Celiac disease in children is diagnosed through a combination of clinical evaluation, blood tests, and, in certain cases, a biopsy of the small intestine.
Chronic Liver Diseases: There are certain chronic liver diseases specifically treated by paediatric gastroenterologists, as they are trained to address a wide range of GI and liver-related issues in children. Among the chronic liver ailments, especially those affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, several fall under the expertise of these specialists.
- Autoimmune Hepatitis: A liver disorder in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks liver cells, leading to inflammation and potential damage over time.
- Alagille Syndrome: A genetic disorder that affects the liver's bile ducts, causing disruptions in bile flow. It has the potential to result in liver damage and can severely impact other organs, including the heart.
- Biliary Atresia: A congenital condition characterized by a blockage in the ducts that transport bile from the liver to the gallbladder. This condition may develop when these ducts fail to develop normally, both inside and outside the liver.
The process of diagnosing health conditions typically requires a comprehensive approach, incorporating laboratory tests and imaging studies. These diagnostic tools allow healthcare professionals to assess and understand the nature of potential disorders through a thorough examination.
- Medical History and Physical Examination: Initial assessment is done through detailed medical history and physical examination, including growth patterns and family history.
- Laboratory Tests: Several blood and stool tests are carried out to evaluate levels of enzymes and assess for infections and inflammation.
- Imaging Studies: Use of ultrasound, X-rays, upper GI series is commonly practised to assess most paediatric gastroenterology conditions. In certain cases, endoscopy is required to visualize and examine the function of the digestive tract.
Paediatric gastroenterologist in Gurgaon
If you are based in Delhi-NCR, several doctors possess exceptional expertise in paediatric gastroenterology in Gurgaon. For those seeking the utmost reliability and excellence in care, Six Sigma Clinics in Gurgaon stands out as the go-to option.
Here, you can expect world-class diagnosis and treatment for the gastric disorders affecting your little ones, ensuring they receive the highest standard of medical attention. At Six Sigma Clinics, we have it all in place—from state-of-the-art technology to doctors experienced in this super-specialty.