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“My tummy hurts” -- that’s something every parent hears. But if it seems like your child complains about stomach problems all the time, he may have a serious digestive disorder. 

These conditions have different causes, but share many of the same symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Stomachache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration (from the diarrhea and vomiting)

If your child has these symptoms often, the first step is to see a doctor. Getting a diagnosis will help you know how to make your child feel better.

Here are some common severe digestive disorders in children.

Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders (EGID)

EGIDs are disorders that result from extra white blood cells in your child’s digestive tract. This causes inflammation and swelling, which can result in pain and discomfort. He may also have trouble swallowing. 

There's no cure for EGIDs, but medications like steroids can lower the number of white blood cells in his gut and ease symptoms. The doctor may suggest cutting out certain foods that could be causing allergic reactions, or other special diets. A severe case may require use of a feeding tube.

Celiac Disease

Children with celiac disease can’t digest gluten, a protein in wheat, barley, and rye. This disorder can damage the small intestine and keep your child's body from absorbing nutrients in his food.

Following a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease. It will likely stop damage to the intestine help heal any that has already happened. Your child will probably feel better in just a few days.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD usually happens in older children or teens. It includes two major digestive disorders: 

  • Ulcerative colitis, which causes swelling in the colon
  • Crohn’s disease, which can affect any part of the digestive tract

Bloody or watery poop and belly pain are common symptoms of both. IBDs can also slow your child's growth or delay puberty. Ulcerative colitis can lead to joint pain, irritated eyes, kidney stones, liver disease, and weak or fragile bones.

The goal of IBD treatment is to make symptoms go away for as long as possible. The doctor may prescribe diet changes and medicines. If ulcerative colitis symptoms are severe, your child may need hospital care or surgery.