NCLEX-RN Practice: The Child with Health Problems of the Upper Gastrointestinal Tract
- The Client with Cleft Lip and Palate
- The Client with Tracheoesophageal Fistula
- The Client with an Anorectal Anomaly
- The Client with Pyloric Stenosis
- The Client with Intussusception
- The Client with Inguinal Hernia
- The Client with Hirschsprung’s Disease
- The Client with Diarrhea, Gastroenteritis, or Dehydration
- The Client with Appendicitis
- Managing Care Quality and Safety
- Answers, Rationales, and Test Taking Strategies
Functional gastrointestinal disorders are common in children and adolescents with complaints of abdominal pain. Our brains and our GI tracts are closely connected (the “mind-body connection”). Functional GI conditions are due to a combination of extra sensitivity of the GI tract, with changes in the motility or movement of the digestive system. Our stomachs and intestines are moving food all the time, and some people feel this more intensely than other people. It’s as if the “volume” has been turned up from their GI tract. When their brains receive these sensations, its reaction can change the motion of the GI tract. These conditions are common, sometimes run in families, and are usually found in individuals who are otherwise healthy. In children, that means they are growing well, have normal lab and x-ray results, and don’t have “alarm symptoms” like blood in the stool, weight loss or fevers.
Treatments for functional gastrointestinal disorders differ based on what symptom is affecting the patient the most. These may include medications to decrease or increase movement of stool through the intestinal tract, decrease stomach acid, decrease intestinal spasm, change the mix of bacteria in the intestine, or decrease the amount of GI tract sensations that are reaching the brain. There are also important non-medicine treatments such as relaxation techniques, biofeedback, self hypnosis and specialized diets. As more research is done, the treatment options change. This, plus the fact that each patient is an individual means that it is best to discuss these choices with your child’s doctor.