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This Batten Disease Handbook is compiled with information
from many sources concerning the topics included. Families in
the organization have also contributed their specific situations
that have been helpful in their own battle with Batten
Disease. All material in this book is provided for information
purposes only. Although Batten Disease Support and Research
Association (BDSRA) has made every reasonable effort to
assure the accuracy of the information contained in this book,
BDSRA is not engaged in rendering medical or other
professional services and advice. BDSRA does not guarantee
or warrant that the information in the book is complete,
correct, current, or applicable to every situation. BDSRA
disclaims all warranties express or implied, concerning this
book and the information contained herein. If medical or
other expert assistance is required, the services of a
competent professional should be attained.
Nancy Carney, RN
Batten Disease Support and Research
1. Why Assess The Gastrointestinal System? Page 6
A. Oral
B. Abdominal
C. Rectal
2. Anatomy And Physiology Pages 7-10
A. Mouth – Structures And Functions
B. Esophagus
C. Diaphragm
D. Abdomen
E. Stomach
F. Small Intestine
G. Large Intestine
H. Peristalsis
I. Accessory Organs – Picture Of The Anatomy Of The Gastrointestinal Tract Page 10
J. Autonomic Nerves Of The Abdomen
K. Blood Supply To The Abdomen
L. Peritoneum
M. Abdominal Musculature
3. Collecting Appropriate History And Data Pages 11-13
A. Biographical Data Page 11
B. Chief Complaint Page 11
C. History Of Present Illness Page 11
1. Pain
2. Dysphagia
3. Nausea/Vomiting
4. Diarrhea
5. Constipation
D. Past History Page 12
1. Gastrointestinal Disorders – Abdominal Distention, Breathing, Scoliosis,
Aspiration Pneumonia
2. Neurological Disorders
3. Major Disorders
4. Previous Abdominal Surgeries Or Trauma
5. Allergies
6. Chronic Laxative Use
7. Medication
E. Family History Page 13
F. Psychological History Page 13
G. Other Things To Explore - Activities Of Daily Living (ADL) Page14
1. Oral Hygiene – Dental Issues
2. Eating Habits
3. Review Of Systems
a. General
b. Skin
c. Eye
d. Respiratory
e. Urinary
f. Musculoskeletal
g. Psychological
4. Conducting A Quick Physical Examination Pages 14-15
A. Initial Assessment Of Mouth
B. Inspecting And Palpating The Lips, Teeth, Gums, Tongue, Buccal
Mucosa, Soft Palate, Pharyngeal
C. Abdominal Assessment
D. Inspecting Rectum
5. Considering Specific Diagnoses Or Problems Pages 15 -88
A. Anorexia Pages 15-17
B. Losing or Gaining Weight Pages 17-18
C. Diet Pages 18-28
1. Lactose Intolerance Page 20
2. Fiber - Modified Diet Pages 19-20
3. Protein - Modified Diet Page 21
4. Vitamins Pages 21-23
5. Minerals Pages 23-24
6. Visually Impaired Pages 24-26
7. Ketogenic Diet Pages 26-28
D. Foul Breath (Halitosis) Pages 28-30
E. Dental Issues Pages 30-32
1. Oral Stimulation Page 31
2. Oral Treatment Page 32
F. Swallowing Safety and Aspiration Pages 32-42
G. Fistula, Atresia, or Stricture Page 42
H. Hiccups Pages 42-43
I. Pain Pages 44-45
J. Nausea and Vomiting Pages 45-49
K. Gastroenteritis (Flu) Pages 49-51
L. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Pages 51-55
M. Gas Formation Page 55
N. Hiatal Hernia Pages 55-58 Picture – Page 57
O. Fundoplication Pages 58-59 Picture Page 59
P. Stomatitis, Gastritis And Dyspepsia Pages 59-61
Q. Ulcers - Peptic (Gastric) and Duodenal Pages 61-65 Picture Page 63
R. GI Bleeding Page 65
S. Inactive Bowel, Hypoactive and Hyperactive Bowel Sounds Pages 65-66
T. Gallbladder Pages 66-67
U. Inguinal Hernia – Pages 67-69 Picture Page 68
V. Peritonitis Pages 69-70
W. Pancreatitis Page 70
X. Urinary Tract Infection Pages 70-72
Y. Constipation Pages 72-78
Z. Appendicitis Page 78
AA. Bowel Obstruction Pages 78-80 – Picture Page 79
BB. Diverticulitis Pages 80-81
CC. Intussusception Pages 81-82
DD. Irritable or Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome Pages 82-84
EE. Crohn’s Disease Pages 84-86
FF. Ulcerative Colitis Pages 86-87
GG. Hemorrhoids Page 87
HH. Rectal Polyps Page 88
II. Pressure Sores Page 88
6. Difficult Diagnostic Tests That May Be Done To Help With Diagnosis Pages 88-94
A. Barium Swallow Page 88
B. Endoscopy or EGD – Upper Gastrointestinal Series Page 89
C. Colonoscopy – Lower Bowel Exam With A Scope – Lower Gastrointestinal Series
Pages 89-90
D. Measuring Abdominal Girth – Watching Abdominal Distention Page90
E. Insertion Of A Naso Gastric (NG) Tube for Decompression Page 90-91
Picture Page 91
E. Checking for Residual Of Stomach Contents Page 92
F. Checking For An Impaction Testing Page92
G. Enemas For Diagnostic Testing Pages 92-93
H. Insertion Of A Rectal Tube For Decompression And If Severe
Diarrhea Page93
I. Stool Specimen for mucous and/or Blood Pages 93-94
J. Abdominal X-rays Page 94
K. Laboratory Tests Page 94
7. Positive Things That May Be Helpful In Gastrointestinal Disorders Pages 94-100
A. Diet and Dental Needs Pages 94-95
B. Schedules Page 95
C. Medications Pages 96-100
1. Antacids
2. Anticholinergics
3. Antidiarrheals
4. Antiemetics
5. Antiinflammatory
6. Histamine Receptor Antagonists
7. Laxatives Page 98
a. Bulk Forming Laxatives
b. Emollient Laxatives
c. Hyperosmotic Laxatives
d. Stimulant Laxatives
e. Lubricant Laxatives
8. Medications That Affect The Gastrointestinal System Page 100
a. Analgesics
b. Antiinfectives
c. Hypnotics
d. Narcotics
8. Diets for Children With Special Needs Page 100
A. Foods They Like Page 100
B. Well Balanced Meals Page 101
C. Characteristics Seen In Children Who Are Tube Fed Pages 101-102
D. Children With Mild Sensorimotor Impairment Pages 102-103
E. When Is It Time To Change The Consistency Of Foods – When
Swallowing Safety Becomes An Issue And Weight Loss Is Evident Page 103-104
Weight Gain Or Weight Loss Page 104
F. When To Make A Decision – Nasogastric (NG) Gastrostomy (GT) Jejunostomy (JT)
Tubes Page 105
1. How Do We Accomplish Comfort, Hydration, And State Of Nutritional WellBeing Page 106
2. Purpose Of A Feeding Tube Pages 106-107
3. List Of Concerns Pages 107-108
4. General Information Sheet Page 109
5. Feeding Tubes Pages 109-115
a. Nasogastric Tube Pages 108, 110 Picture Page 110
b. Gastrostomy Tube– Pages 110-111 Picture Page 111
c. Jejunostomy Tube Pages 111-112 Pictures Pages 112-115
6. What Kinds Of Formulas Pages 116-117
7. Medications and Feeding Tubes Pages 117-118
8. Methods of Tube Feedings Pages 118-119
9. Guidelines For Giving A Tube Feeding Pages 119-121
10. Different Feeding Schedules and Checking Residuals Pages 121-123
11. Suggestions For Environmental Control Pages 123-124
12. Equipment Page 124
13. Care Of A Feeding Tube Pages 124-125
14. Cleansing Of A Feeding Tube Pages 125-126
15. Specific Skin Problems With Feeding Tubes Pages 126-127
16. Products To Stabilize Feeding Tubes Pages 127-128 Picture Page 128
17. Common Tube Feeding Problems And What To Do Pages 128-132
18. Troubleshooting Feeding Tube Products Pages 132-133
19. Common Causes Of Tube Feeding Obstructions And How To Prevent Them Pages
20. Documentation Pages 134-135
9. Glossary Pages 136-170
10. Bibliography Pages 171-176
Why Assess the Gastrointestinal system?
The gastrointestinal (GI) system fuels the body, through the processes of
ingestion, digestion, absorption, and removes body wastes, through the process of
elimination. Problems in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract can have far-reaching
metabolic implications for your children. For example, dental caries or periodontal
disease may affect a nutritionally deficient child’s ability to eat, exacerbating his
nutritional problems and prolonging his recovery. Vomiting and diarrhea, if
untreated, may cause acid-base imbalance. Bleeding from the gastrointestinal (GI)
tract may result in severe anemia.
Comprehensive assessment of the gastrointestinal system (GI) requires
examination of the following areas: oral examination is a simple assessment
procedure, which is often overlooked as part of the gastrointestinal (GI)
assessment. Yet, you may be the first to detect an oral lesion, dehydration, thrush,
or problems with cavities of the teeth, and be able to refer your child for early
diagnosis and treatment. Secondly, mastering abdominal assessment presents a real
challenge. The abdomen contains most of the gastrointestinal (GI) system: the
lower end of the esophagus, the entire stomach, and the small and large intestines.
It also contains parts of other body systems – the urinary, reproductive,
cardiovascular, nervous, and blood forming and immune systems. In fact, only the
respiratory system lies completely outside the abdomen – yet a distended abdomen
certainly affects breathing. You can see then, how you may encounter many
abdominal signs and symptoms during an assessment, and the implications they
might have. Differentiating among so many possible signs and symptoms is a
challenge. Lastly, a rectal examination needs to be considered. Detection of
hemorrhoids, redness or irritation and checking for an impaction can be important
to report to your Doctor.
Gastrointestinal (GI) assessment helps you sort out abdominal complaints and shed
light on your child’s problem. Information gained through a gastrointestinal (GI)
assessment can also help you monitor your child’s therapy, allowing you to identify
any adverse developments and provide a database for your assessment with possibly
your other children.
Reviewing Anatomy & Physiology
The mouth has many vital functions. The tongue, teeth, and lips modify sound for
speech. The mouth also initiates the digestive process and salivary lubrication
through chewing, tearing and grinding of food with the teeth, and the
decompensation of starches. It then delivers food to the digestive tract through
swallowing. Its mucous membranes serve as a physical defense; its salivary
secretions serve as an antimicrobial defense. Finally, the mouth is the medium for
sensory response to taste.
The esophagus is a muscular tube that propels food from the pharynx to the
stomach’s cardiac sphincter. Approximately 9” long, the esophagus extends from
the 6th cervical to the 11th thoracic vertebrae.
This domed muscle/tendon sheet separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities.
The phrenic nerve, which starts in the neck, through the thorax, along the heart
muscle, supplies innervation to the stomach. The diaphragm raises and lowers with
The abdomen extends from the diaphragm to the pelvis. Besides gastrointestinal
organs (GI), it contains the kidneys and ureters, the suprarenal glands, and the
blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatic systems. The abdominal contents are partially
protected by the lower ribs, the lumbar vertebrae and the iliac bones. The rest of
the abdominal walls consist largely of muscles and tendons.
The stomach is roughly J-shaped. It lies under the diaphragm, to the left of and
partially under the liver, to the right of the spleen, and in front of the pancreas.
The stomach secretes gastric juices containing hydrochloric acid and enzymes.
Together, with the stomach’s churning motion, these juices break food down into
semisolid chyme. Serving as a reservoir, the stomach regulates the passage of
chyme into the duodenum. (Hydrochloric acid kills most of the microbes in food).
The stomach’s gastric mucosa can absorb small amounts of water, glucose, and
certain drugs.
Small Intestine
The small intestine is approximately 21 feet long: the duodenum measures about 1
foot; the jejunum about 8 feet; and the ileum, the remaining 12 feet. Highly mobile
and quite active, the small intestine coils and loops through much of the abdominal
cavity and part of the pelvic cavity. The duodenum is a horseshoe-shaped organ,
opening to the left, entering into the jejunum in the left upper abdominal quadrant,
and the ileum lies in the right lower quadrant. The small intestine is where
absorption and digestion largely takes place, where millions of villi (which
transports fluids and nutrients) increase the surface area and controls the
absorption of carbohydrates, fat and protein, then joins the large intestine.
Large Intestine
The large intestine consists of the cecum, the ascending, transverse, descending,
and sigmoid colons, and the rectum. Its primary functions are to absorb water and
store feces (stool). The rectum eventually excretes feces. The ascending colon
starts along the right side of the abdomen. It bends to the left just in front of
the right kidney. The transverse colon runs across the abdominal cavity, usually
paralleling the stomach’s lower border. This portion of the colon is quite mobile,
commonly occupying the lower quadrants of the abdominal cavity when the cavity is
full. It meets the descending colon just in front of the left kidney. It runs down
the left side of the abdominal cavity to the sigmoid (s-shaped fashion) colon to the
rectum, which descends and bends along the back of the pelvic cavity, following the
curve of the sacrum.
Peristalsis is an involuntary process that propels food in waves through the
esophagus, the stomach, and the intestines. Controlled mostly by vagus nerves, a
peristaltic wave can travel the length of an organ or it can be a short, local reflex.
Peristalsis can also result from the pressure of food or gas within the
gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Peristaltic waves in the stomach tend to mix its
contents and move them into the duodenum. Waves occur at the rate of three per
minute, and usually two or three waves are in progress at any one time throughout
the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The waves in the small intestine are usually short
and localized; they enhance absorption by bringing food into contact as they move
food through the intestine. In the large intestine, peristaltic waves do progress,
propelling food and gas toward the rectum, usually at the rate of ½-1” per minute.
Three or four times a day, much more powerful contractions move larger masses of
waste material. Peristalsis also keeps bacteria moving along the walls of the large
intestine, preventing the accumulation of harmful organisms. By moving gas toward
the rectum, peristalsis helps prevent distention and pain.
Accessory Organs
Accessory gastrointestinal (GI) organs (those that assist the digestive process, but
are not part of the gastrointestinal (GI) system) are the liver, gallbladder, and
pancreas. The liver, one of the largest organs in the body, lies under the thoracic
cage, in the upper right abdominal quadrant. It has many vital functions. It figures
prominently in the metabolism of carbohydrates, producing and storing glycogen and
metabolizing galactose. The liver breaks down fat and converts fatty acids into
small molecules that can be oxidized. And lastly, the liver secretes bile and
detoxifies harmful substances in plasma, forms Vitamin A and stores other
essential nutrients (Vitamin K, D, B12 and iron). The gallbladder lies just
underneath the right lobe of the liver. About the size and shape of a small pear, it
stores bile until it is discharged into the biliary duct system, which empties into the
duodenum to aid digestion. The pancreas lies horizontally behind the stomach. Its
head is attached to the duodenum; its tail reaches the spleen. The pancreas serves
as an endocrine gland, producing pancreatic juices that travel to the duodenum for
use in digestion. It also performs endocrine functions, releasing insulin and
glycogen into circulation.
Autonomic Nerves of the Abdomen
The autonomic nerves of the abdomen consist of the thoracic and lumbar
(sympathetic division) and the vagus and pelvic nerves (parasympathetic division).
Sympathetic impulses slow activity in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, inhibit
secretions, and contract sphincters. Parasympathetic impulses stimulate
gastrointestinal (GI) activity and secretions, and relax sphincters.
Blood Supply to the Abdomen
The abdominal aorta enters the abdomen at the level of the twelfth thoracic (ribs)
vertebrae. After coursing slightly to the left of the vertebral column, it divides
into the common iliac arteries at the fourth lumbar vertebrae, which supply the
rest of the abdominal organs. It then becomes part of the femoral arteries (right
and left) and supplies the lower extremities with blood supply.
The peritoneum is a continuous serous membrane, which is lined with mesothelium (a
layer of tissue) and is a covering for the organs in the abdominal cavity. It serves
as a protective lining for each abdominal organ.
Abdominal Musculature
The abdominal wall consists of three pairs of sheet-like muscles (external and
internal obliques and the transverse abdominis) and a pair of band-like muscles
(rectus abdominis).
Collecting Appropriate History Data
Biographical Data
Besides serving to identify your child, biographical data, particularly age and sex,
may indicate that your child runs a greater risk of having certain gastrointestinal
Chief Complaint - the most common chief complaints associated with
gastrointestinal disorders are pain, dysphagia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and
constipation. Ask your child to elaborate on his chief complaints.
History of Present Illness
 Pain – What does the pain feel like? What symptoms accompany the pain?
Fever, malaise, nausea, vomiting, warmth, redness, and swelling (such as in
the mouth) may indicate viral infection or inflammation of the
gastrointestinal (GI) tract. If your child has painful mouth ulcerations, ask
if he notices any relation between exacerbation (reoccurrence of the
symptoms once they have lessened) of symptoms and stress, food, change of
seasons, or other factors. Ulcers are sometimes associated with these
factors. Do you have heartburn or dyspepsia (a vague feeling of gastric
discomfort felt after eating)? These conditions usually occur after eating
certain spicy foods that produce excess acid in the stomach; dyspepsia may
also occur with hiatal hernia or as a side effect of certain medications such
as Salicylates (Aspirin). If your child has abdominal pain, ask him about the
relationship of the pain to meals. Peptic ulcer pain usually occurs about 2
hours after meals or whenever the stomach is empty; it may wake your child
at night. Has your child’s bowel elimination patterns changed recently?
When did your child have his last bowel movement? Can you pass flatus
(gas)? Does your abdomen feel distended (swollen or tight)? Your child’s
answers may give clues to inflammatory or obstructive bowel disorders. Do
you have rectal discomfort? This type of pain can indicate local problems,
such as pain from a large, hard stool that has torn the mucosa, inflammation
from infections or pain associated with hemorrhoids
 Dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing) – When, during swallowing, do you feel
discomfort? Does it occur between your mouth and esophagus? In the
esophagus? Between the esophagus and stomach? Asking your child to point
to the area of discomfort is important, because certain disorders affect
specific points in the swallowing process. Does the dysphagia result from
ingesting solid food, or both solids and liquids? Did you have symptoms of
reflux prior to the onset of dysphagia? Dysphagia usually results from
mechanical obstruction or loss of motor coordination. Neurological disease
Nausea and Vomiting – Do you feel nauseated before you vomit? Is the
vomiting projectile (which means that vomiting is forceful and uncontrollable
across the room)? Projectile vomiting often indicates central nervous
system disorders. Does the vomitus have an unusual odor? A fecal odor
(smelling like stool), for example, usually indicates a small bowel obstruction.
Have you been emotionally upset recently? Have you vomited blood?
Hematemesis (bloody vomit) may reflect a gastrointestinal (GI) disorder,
such as severe esophagitis, stomach ulcers, or disorders outside the
gastrointestinal (GI) system, such as anticoagulant toxicity
Diarrhea – Ask about the frequency and consistency of your child’s bowel
movements. Have you been under emotional stress lately? Psychogenic
factors may affect bowel motility. What particular foods did you eat before
the diarrhea’s onset? Food poisoning (such as from custard-filled pastries
and processed meats contaminated with staphylococci) may cause diarrhea,
usually accompanied by abdominal cramping and vomiting. Fever, tenesmus
(spasmodic contraction of the rectal sphincter with pain and persistent
desire to empty the bowel with involuntary, ineffectual straining efforts),
and cramping pain associated with diarrhea usually indicates an infection,
most commonly viral. Is the stool bloody? This may be due to hemorrhoids.
Does the stool smell foul, bulky and greasy? This suggests a fat
malabsorption problem. Passage of mucous suggests irritable colon. Do
periods of diarrhea alternate with periods of constipation? This combination
may be associated with irritable colon or diverticulitis
Constipation – How would you describe the size, character, and frequency of
your child’s bowel movements? Many children mistakenly claim to have
constipation, so always ask this type of question to determine if constipation
exists. What is your child’s typical daily diet like? The absence of fiber in
the diet or inadequate fluid intake may lead to constipation. Laxative abuse,
decreased physical activity, and emotional stress may also produce this
symptom. Does your child experience cramping abdominal pain and distention
related to the constipation? These symptoms suggest mechanical
obstruction, such as from a stricture (closing of the diameter of the bowel).
Find out if the problem is acute – in which case, it is more likely to have an
organic cause – or chronic, which is commonly caused by a functional problem
Past History
Explore the following relevant areas when talking to your child about the history of
the problem.
 Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders – long-term gastrointestinal (GI) conditions
such as ulcers, reflux, hiatal hernia, nausea and vomiting
Neurological disorders – certain conditions of the brain may cause
gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. For example – these conditions can impair
movement of the tongue, the uvula (the small flap in the back of the throat),
the larynx (voice box), or the pharynx (passageway for the respiratory and
digestive tracts and changes shape to allow the formation of various vowel
sounds), which can lead to drooling, dysarthria, and difficulty chewing or
Other major disorders – gastrointestinal signs (GI) and symptoms may also
result from pathologic conditions in other body systems – for example –
scoliosis which can affect a child’s breathing if the diaphragm is involved or
motor impairment, which can lead to constipation due to inactivity
Previous abdominal surgery or trauma – even such a relatively simple
procedure as oral surgery may cause infection or bleeding. Previous surgery
may cause adhesions, which can lead to scar tissue and pain
Allergies – allergic reactions to certain foods and medications can produce a
variety of gastrointestinal (GI) complaints, such as pain, nausea, and
diarrhea. Check especially to see if your child is hypersensitive to penicillin,
sulfonamides, or local anesthetics, which can lead to severe allergic
symptoms affecting gastrointestinal (GI) mucous membranes. Also, ask your
child about hypersensitivity to toothpastes or mouthwashes, which may
cause symptoms on contact
Chronic laxative use – laxatives including mineral oil and stool softeners,
affect intestinal motility, habitual use of laxatives may cause constipation
(from insensitive defecatory reflexes)
Medications – anti-infectives and many other drugs can produce various
gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, such as oral ulceration, nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea, or constipation
Family History
Ask your child or parents if anyone in the family has ever had gastrointestinal
problems. A family history of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders may predispose
certain disorders for your child.
Psychological History
To review your child’s psychological history, question him first about how his chief
complaint is disturbing him. Emotional problems can contribute significantly to
gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms – for example: pain, dyspepsia, nausea, anorexia,
gluttony (over indulgence), or more idiosyncratic tendencies, such as cheek biting
(which you will see as multiple areas of reddened, missing tissue or bleeding).
Other Things to Explore – Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
 Oral hygiene – ask your child to describe his oral hygiene routine for a
typical day – note if he mentions using a toothbrush or dental floss
 Eating habits – frequent in between meal snacking on sugar-rich foods may
predispose your child to dental caries. Excessive consumption of very hot
or very spicy foods may lead to stomatitis
 General – ask if there has been a recent fever, weight loss, anorexia,
fatigue or weakness. Record weights periodically
 Skin – generalized jaundice and pruritus (itching) may result from liver
involvement. Pruritis around the anal (rectum) region may be caused by local
infections, or by specific dermatologic disorders, such as psoriasis
 Eye – ask about eye pain and photophobia (abnormal sensitivity to light)
 Respiratory – dyspnea (shortness of breath) may result from scoliosis due
to the degree of the curvature. We are finding that a larger than expected
number of children with Batten Disease suffer from some degree of
 Urinary – abdominal pain may be a symptom of urinary disorders
 Musculoskeletal - contractures (abnormal, usually permanent positions of
the hands and feet due to the muscle fibers shortening due to inactivity)
may develop due to inactivity and is common toward the end of Batten
Disease seen in our children
 Psychological – anxiety, depression, and other emotional disturbances
commonly accompany gastrointestinal (GI) disorders
Conducting a Quick Physical Examination
Physical examination can be done very quickly with a “head to toe” assessment.
 Mouth - have a flashlight – look into the mouth for sores, redness, white
spots in the tonsil area, white coating on the tongue, ask if your child’s
throat hurts when swallowing, look for blackened teeth that may be decayed,
check out the gums – are they reddened or swollen, excessive salivation,
dryness or bleeding of the mouth, and also check for any unusual mouth odor
 Neck - check the neck to see if there is any obvious swelling of glands on
either side, and if there is pain or tenderness when palpating the gland area
 Respiratory - unbutton or lift up your child’s shirt to watch his breathing –
shortness of breath, gasping, rapid breathing, breathing equal on both sides
(does the chest rise and fall equally)
 Abdomen – check for any abdominal distention, does it appear symmetricaldoes one side look swollen or larger than the other. If you have a
stethoscope, listen for “bowel sounds” – which should be little gurgles heard
every 3-5 seconds, which denotes movement in the stomach and intestines of
Rectal - ask about any diarrhea, constipation, rectal pain, hemorrhoids,
itching or bleeding with bowel movements
Legs - check lower extremities for any swelling of the feet or ankles or
swelling of the hands or face
Skin - with each step – look at the skin, starting with the neck, abdomen,
back, and legs for redness, swelling, rashes, scratching from itching, sores,
dryness/perspiration and color of the skin
Considering Specific Diagnoses or Problems
The following topics can be specific problems of the gastrointestinal system (GI).
They are mentioned because of symptoms seen in “normal” children as well as some
of them are indicative with Batten Disease. Also, a lot of these symptoms or
problems we as adults will see in our lives, so I have included them for us as well.
Anorexia by definition means lack or loss of appetite, resulting in the inability to
eat. The condition may result from poorly prepared food or unattractive
surroundings, unfavorable company, or psychological causes. It can be a result of
specific factors such as anxiety, chronic pain, poor oral hygiene, increased blood
temperature due to hot weather or fever, alterations in taste or smell, or drug
You need to be aware of recent weight loss and be exact in the number of pounds
your child has lost. In children, anorexia commonly accompanies many illnesses, but
usually resolves promptly. Anorexia and/or malnutrition usually arises gradually and
is accompanied by the following:
 Hair – dull, dry, thin, fine, straight, and easily plucked; areas of lighter or
darker spots and hair loss
 Face – generalized swelling; dark areas on cheeks and under eyes; lumpy or
flaky skin around the nose and mouth; enlarged parotid glands (a salivary
gland which lies just in front of the external ear)
 Eyes – dull appearance; dry and either pale or red membranes; triangular
shiny gray spots on conjunctivae (the mucous membrane lining the inner
surfaces of the eyelids and the anterior part of the sclera - the white part
of the eye); red and fissured eyelid corners; bloodshot ring around cornea
 Lips – red and swollen, especially at corners, are there certain tastes and
smells that nauseate your child and cause loss of appetite?
Tongue – swollen, purple and raw-looking with sores or abnormal protrusions
on the tongue
Teeth – missing, or emerging abnormally; visible cavities or dark spots;
spongy, often bleeding gums that may interfere with chewing
Neck – swollen thyroid glans; is there pain when he swallows?
Skin – dry, flaky, swollen and dark with lighter or darker spots, some
resembling bruises; tight and drawn, with poor skin turgor
Nails – spoon-shaped, brittle, and ridged
Musculoskeletal – muscle wasting; knock-knee or bowlegs; bumps on ribs;
swollen joints; musculoskeletal hemorrhages
Cardiovascular system – heart rate above 100 beats per minute;
dysrhythmias (irregular heart rhythm); elevated blood pressure
Abdomen – enlarged liver and spleen; is their vomiting or diarrhea after
meals? Is there a history of stomach or bowel problems, which can
interfere with the ability to digest, absorb or metabolize nutrients? Are
there any changes in bowel habits?
Reproduction – amenorrhea ( no menstrual periods for girls)
Nervous system – irritability, confusion, paresthesias (abnormal sensations
such as numbness, tingling or prickling in hands and feet); loss of
proprioception; decreased ankle and knee reflexes
Psychological factors – Does your child know what is causing the lack of
appetite? Has there been problems at home or school, a death in the
What can we do as parents for our children?
 When do you get concerned if your child appears to have a lack of appetite?
If your child has not eaten much for 7-10 days, you need to be looking for an
alternative method of nutrition, sometimes, adding products like ensure may
be helpful to maintain nutrition. If your child is an infant or toddler, you will
need to call your Doctor before then. If you notice specific symptoms of
dehydration, decrease in urinary output, fever to name several, you will have
to notify your Doctor as soon as possible
 Make sure that the cause of the lack of appetite is not due to another
reason or illness, or is it the disease process (of Batten Disease) that is
causing the symptoms – drug therapy, gastritis, constipation to list several.
It has been noted that children with Batten Disease at times (usually due to
medications such as anticonvulsants or when our children begin having more
increased swallowing problems, they are almost afraid to eat due to the
coughing and choking) will have periodic episodes when their appetite
decreases, but then it will increase again to a more normal appetite over 1-2
weeks. If their appetite does not increase, consult your Physician
Does your child have any swallowing difficulties? Children with Batten
Disease will at some point during the illness develop swallowing problems.
Many parents will go to a feeding clinic or see a speech pathologist when
they notice the first symptoms of problems and usually a swallowing study
will follow and alternatives to eating certain foods may need to be changed
Offer small frequent meals that look appealing and his favorite foods, but
Also offer supplemental liquids such as ensure or milkshakes – high in
Continue to include exercises or some form of activity in the daily routine,
whether it may be with a bath, passive range of motion (where you need to
initiate exercises), or active range of motion (if your child is able to do some
activities on his own)
Weigh your child on a regular basis and record, once a week, every 2 weeks,
or monthly
Consider talking to a nutritionist/or start multi vitamins to supplement his
daily intake of essential vitamins
Keep a daily log of how your child is eating, what time of day he eats better,
what foods he seems to eat more of and any problems that may become
Weight Loss or Gain
Weight loss can reflect decreased food intake, increased metabolic requirements,
or a combination of the two. As well as the things mentioned above in anorexia,
specific medical causes that may cause weight loss could include the following:
 Crohn’s disease – with chronic cramping, abdominal pain and bowel movements
 Depression – which may be difficult to detect in children – may see
insomnia/hypersomnia (extreme drowsiness or sleep – more than normal),
apathy (an absence or suppression of emotion or feelings), or fatigue
 Diabetes – which is uncommon for children with Batten Disease
 Gastroenteritis – (flu) malabsorption and dehydration – may be acute with
viral infections or reactions, or gradual in parasitic infections
 Stomatitis – inflammation of the oral mucosa, (usually red, sore, swollen, and
ulcerated) due to decreased eating
 Ulcerative colitis – weight loss is seen in the late stages of this disorder
with the multiple stools (usually diarrhea); possibly bleeding, pus, or mucous
in the stool, along with cramping abdominal pain; nausea and vomiting may
also be present
 Batten Disease – weight loss can be very sudden in Batten Disease – it is not
uncommon for a child (especially Juvenile Batten) to go from 130 pounds to
75 pounds over just a few months period of time usually due to swallowing
difficulties and not eating an adequate number of calories
Weight gain occurs when ingested calories exceed body requirements for energy,
causing increased adipose (fat) tissue to be stored. Some of the primary causes of
weight gain may be overeating, emotional factors – most commonly, anxiety, guilt,
depression, and social factors. It can also be caused from specific drug therapy,
which causes overeating, when activity levels slow, family history of obesity, or is it
age specific (growth spurt)?
Medical causes of weight gain include the following:
 Diabetes
 Thyroid disorders
 Adrenal gland disorders
 Increased insulin secretion
 Kidney disorders
 Cardiac disorders when the heart does not circulate properly, edema
(swelling) may occur, therefore, the weight gain is fluid retention
 Poor eating habits
 Heredity
What can we do as parents for our children?
Refer to anorexia for weight loss and what we can do for our kids. As far as
overeating, we can do the following for our children:
 Prepare well balanced meals
 Have healthy snacks available
 Limit chips, pop, and sweets
 Record weight on a regular schedule
 Give a multi vitamin to assure essential vitamins
 Encourage daily exercises or activities
 Keep a daily log of your child’s intake (as much as possible)
 Discourage fad diets
Children’s appetites naturally vary from day to day, especially in response to their
patterns of growth. Because each child is an individual, each has a unique growth
pattern as well as unique caloric requirements to support their growth. Appetite is
the inner voice that helps determine the amount of food a healthy child must eat to
grow normally. Sometimes, a decrease in appetite is a tip-off to the parent of a
child with special needs that something is not going well. But, while any significant
decreases in appetite should be discussed with your Doctor or health care team,
keep in mind that after the first year of your child’s life, decreases in appetite are
a normal and predictable part of a child’s development. Other factors can influence
appetite as well. The health of your child depends a great deal on the food they
eat. Their diet has a big impact on their energy level, alertness, physical
development, emotional moods, and appearance. By giving children the right kinds
of food, you help their bodies “work” better and grow to their maximum potential.
Foods are made up of various nutrients. Each nutrient gives the body energy and
helps the body grow. The most nutritious foods are those that provide the best
building blocks while giving energy. Children will receive well-balanced meals and
the necessary nutrients when you plan and serve meals that include food from the
“basic 4” food groups which are: fruits and vegetables, milk and milk products, meat
and meat equivalents (fish, eggs, and poultry), bread and bread alternatives (cereal
and grains). Foods serve several purposes within the body: energy – they provide
the “fuel” the body burns, growth – the building of new cells and body tissue, and
maintain body functions – they keep organs and body processes working.
Some children also have allergies to certain foods. Two big ones are peanut butter
and milk. Be sure you keep a list of food allergies for your child. Lactose intolerance
is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, the predominant sugar in
milk. This inability results from a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is normally
produced by the cells that line the small intestine. Lactase breaks down milk sugar
into simpler forms that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. When there is not
enough lactose to digest the amount of lactose consumed, the results although not
usually dangerous, may be very distressing. Some degree of lactose intolerance
develops in most people after the age of 5. But for reasons that are not entirely
understood, it is usually more pronounced among Blacks, Asians, Orientals, and
South Americans. And in a few cases, complete lactose intolerance is present from
birth. Secondary lactose intolerance may occur in children or adults with
Few children require a diet that is totally free of lactose – most can tolerate some
milk as long as it is carefully spaced throughout the day. In addition, many children
are able to consume cheese and yogurt, in which the lactose is broken down by the
active cultures. Symptoms may include nausea, cramps, bloating, gas, and diarrhea,
which begin about 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating or drinking foods containing
lactose. The severity of symptoms varies depending on the amount of lactose each
individual can tolerate. After about the age of 2 years, the body begins to produce
less lactase. Today many lactose alternatives are available in the grocery stores.
Foods to avoid if lactose intolerance is a problem are milk and milk products
(including cheese, buttermilk and yogurt), baked goods made with milk, sausages
that contain milk products, creamy sauces and gravies, processed foods that
contain lactose, chocolate, caramel, cocoa mixes, nondairy creamers, vitamins,
medications, instant potatoes and frozen french fries. You will need to monitor
your child’s intake of calcium and riboflavin, both are usually supplied by milk.
Provide dietary supplements, if ordered. Also, assess your child’s diet to be sure he
is taking in sufficient protein and calories. Make sure you read food labels to
detect the presence of milk, milk solids, whey, lactose and casein. Suggest
substituting water or fruit juices for milk in recipes. Explain, if you eat out, avoid
sauces, gravies and breading. And also, if symptoms improve, small amounts of dairy
products can be added at one meal and then progress further as long as they are
tolerated ( for example – if you want to add cottage cheese – check with different
brands because the amount of lactose varies widely in cottage cheese).
Fiber-modified diet makes up a crucial part of the diet and yet it is completely
indigestible. Its benefits are primarily mechanical in nature: it promotes
peristalsis, reduces intestinal transit time, and increases stool volume and weight.
A high-fiber diet can help prevent diverticulitis by distending the colon and
relieving pressure on the intestinal wall. It can help treat obesity by decreasing
caloric density and promoting a feeling of fullness. Water-soluble fibers, such as
pectin, can lower cholesterol levels and prevent coronary heart disease. Although
dietary fiber is usually beneficial, it may need to be altered for children who suffer
from indigestion, gastric reflux, or diarrhea – but remember, low fiber diets lack
sufficient vitamins and minerals.
Sources of high fiber include:
 Breads and baked goods made from 100% whole wheat or rye flour instead
of white flour
 Granola
 Oatmeal
 Unpeeled apples and other fruits
 Raw and leafy vegetables such as carrots and lettuce
 Coarsely ground bran can be added to muffins, cereals, or breads as a
further fiber supplement
If on
a high-fiber diet:
Have female children to increase calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis
Drink at least two glasses of milk a day and to eat cheese and yogurt
If trying to lose weight, drink skim milk and low-fat cheeses
Eat plenty of iron-rich foods, such as liver
To increase zinc intake, recommend meat, nuts, beans, wheat germ and
Sources of low fiber include:
 Soft, mild foods
 Excludes raw vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, coarse breads and strong
 Fried foods and fats are limited (they increase gastric reflux)
 Milk and milk products
 Cook meats and vegetables until they are quite tender
Remind all children/adults on a fiber-modified diet to schedule follow-up
appointments to evaluate their progress and assess their nutritional status.
Protein-modified diets
Protein – the raw material for building cells and regulating bodily functions – is
normally supplied in abundance by a well balanced diet. But a high protein diet may
be necessary for those with increased body-building needs, such as growing
children. A high protein diet can benefit children with increased tissue breakdown
or with nitrogen depletion caused by stress or increased secretions of thyroid
hormones. And it is often used with children who suffer protein loss due to
immobilization, dietary deficiency, infection, or chronic disease.
Sources of high protein include:
 Eat plenty of carbohydrates so the body does not burn protein for fuel.
 Eat more meats, cheese, nuts, milk products, eggs
 Divide proteins as equally as possible throughout the day for better
 Can add nonfat dry milk to regular milk and casseroles to increase their
protein content
 Increase protein and calorie consumption gradually
 Weigh weekly – your child can gain weight rather quickly, feel stronger,
resistance to infection increases and wounds heal more quickly
 Return for frequent checkups and evaluations
Sources of low protein include:
 If a low-protein diet is recommended, try a vegetarian cookbook
 Limit the amount of protein as ordered by your Doctor
 Usually not seen in children with Batten Disease
 Be sure your child eats enough protein to meet energy requirements
 Weigh your child weekly for possible weight loss
 Signs of protein deficiency include: weakness, decreased resistance to
infection, low hemoglobin (blood count) levels, low albumin levels (check for
edema - swelling) a sign of albumin deficiency)
Briefly, I would like to explain the understanding of Vitamins and Minerals
supplements. Most people know that vitamins are essential for growth and
development. But how they are stored can greatly influence their intended effects.
And how they act depend on your child’s condition, his need for medications and
other factors. Some points to remember when giving supplements.
Vitamin C – usually no problems, give amounts as directed by your nutritionist
or Doctor
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) – B vitamins act together so an excess of one can
cause an increased need for others. If given in shot form (IM –
intramuscular), rotate sites to reduce discomfort
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – before Riboflavin can be absorbed, it must be
combined with Phosphorus (give with dairy products). Riboflavin supplements
are also sensitive to light so keep them in an opaque container, do not give
Riboflavin with alkaline substances (such as Maalox, Mylanta)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – do not give to children with peptic ulcers, low blood
pressure, or any form of bleeding. Begin therapy with small doses and
gradually increase to appropriate dose prescribed by your Doctor.
Administer Niacin supplements with food to reduce upset stomach and to
avoid taking with hot beverages because of increased vasodilatation (dilation
of arteries). Use timed-release Niacin to avoid or limit symptoms of tingling,
itching, headache, or a sensation of warmth, especially around the neck, head
and ears. And also caution against exposure to bright sunlight
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) – need for increased doses may be seen if your child
is taking Penicillin
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) – protect B12 from light and heat, watch
Potassium levels – may need to give extra doses of Potassium
Vitamin A – may be contraindicated in malabsorption conditions, do not give
Carotene with Mineral Oil – it can impair Vitamin absorption, adequate
Vitamin A absorption requires suitable protein intake, bile, and concurrent
recommended daily allowances of Zinc and Vitamin E, absorption is fastest
and most complete with water preparations, intermediate with emulsions (a
system using small droplets of the drug) and slowest with suspensions (a
system where the drug is dispersed but not dissolved until stirred or
shaken), carefully evaluate from giving extra doses of Vitamin A if foods are
fortified with Vitamin A to avoid self mega-dosing, liquid preparations are
available if necessary for gastrointestinal or jejunostomy tube (GT/JT)
administration – can be mixed with cereals or fruit juices, protect from light
and heat, record eating and bowel habits
Vitamin D – monitor eating and bowel habits: dry mouth, nausea, vomiting,
metallic taste, and constipation may be toxic symptoms, if high doses are
used, monitor blood and urine levels of Calcium, Potassium and Urea – doses
of 60,000 units/day may cause increase Calcium, this Vitamin is fat-soluble –
talk to your Doctor before increasing dose on your own, restrict intake of
Magnesium containing Antacids
Vitamin E – use cautiously with: Aluminum containing Antacids which can
decrease absorption of fat-soluble Vitamins, Iron supplements, and Vitamin
A, water preparations are more completely absorbed in the gastrointestinal
(GI) tract than other forms, adequate bile is essential for absorption,
Vitamin E may protect other Vitamins against oxidation
Folic Acid – if your child has a sore mouth or tongue, provide soft bland
foods or liquids, protect Folic Acid from light and heat
Vitamin K – be careful if any source of bleeding is noted – may have
coagulation problems
Understanding Mineral supplements – minerals help build bone and soft tissue and
form hair, nails and skin. They serve other purposes, too. Iron and Copper, for
instance, promote synthesis of hemoglobin (blood count) and red blood cells (RBC’S).
Other Minerals help regulate muscle contraction and relaxation, blood-clotting, and
acid-base balance. When administering a Mineral supplement, keep in mind these
important considerations.
Calcium – do not give Calcium with dairy products, bran cereal, spinach,
rhubarb, or steroids to prevent impaired absorption, take 1 hour after meals
to reduce gastrointestinal (GI) upset, monitor blood and urine Calcium levels
Potassium – use cautiously if children are taking Atropine, may cause
gastrointestinal (GI) ulcers, monitor intake and output to check kidney
function, take immediately after meals to prevent gastrointestinal (GI)
Phosphorous – watch for signs of tetany (muscle spasms, paresthesias around
the mouth and in the extremities, abdominal pain, hair loss, or heart
irregularities) from insufficient Calcium or excessive Phosphorous
Sodium – (salt) use cautiously in children with heart failure, impaired kidney
function or edema (swelling), monitor blood electrolyte levels frequently
since imbalances can occur during therapy, check intake and output daily
since excessive Sodium (salt) can cause fluid retention, weigh your child
Oral Iron – use cautiously in peptic ulcers, flu, ulcerative colitis or in longterm therapy, gastrointestinal (GI) upset is related to the dose – take in
between meals since food may decrease absorption, however, if your child
experiences nausea, may give with food, enteric-coated products reduce
gastrointestinal (GI) upset, but they may also reduce Iron absorption, advice
to take Iron supplements at least 2 hours after eating dairy products, eggs,
coffee, tea, or whole grain bread or cereals since these foods interfere with
absorption. Iron is available in liquid form – dilute it with juice (preferably
orange juice or water, but not in milk or with antacids), if you are giving Iron
in tablet form – take with orange juice to promote absorption, Iron can be
toxic – symptoms would include vomiting, upper abdominal pain, pallor,
cyanosis, diarrhea and drowsiness, do not double up on doses if a dose is
missed, stools may be black because of unabsorbed Iron, check for
constipation and record the color and amount of stool – try to prevent
Magnesium – monitor levels during therapy, most precautions are with
intravenous (IV) route of administration
Copper and Zinc – monitor blood levels during therapy, take Zinc with meals
but not with dairy products because it can decrease absorption
Do your children argue about what to eat for breakfast? Maybe you want them to
eat eggs and toast with their milk and juice, but they want something else. By
looking at a food chart, you see that there are many possible substitutes. Children
can receive the nutrition they need by eating something else. Think of other
breakfast ideas that your children may prefer. Your idea of a good breakfast may
not be a peanut butter and banana sandwich, but if your children like it, remember
that protein, fruit, and grain provided here substitute for other breakfast foods
they may not be fond of. You are respecting their tastes and at the same time,
providing them with good nutrition. Some foods lose Vitamins when they are cooked
for a long time. Try the following ideas to help save nutrients: steam fresh
vegetables instead of cooking them directly in water and cook them for a short
time; eat raw vegetables in salads or with dips; use water from cooked vegetables
(the water contains nutrients) in soup broth or gravy; cook frozen vegetables while
frozen (do not thaw ahead of time); cover and refrigerate juices (Vitamin C is lost
by exposure to the air and heat).
Feeding a child who has a Visual Impairment is more like than unlike feeding a
sighted child. All children want to be active participants in the mealtime process.
All children find ways to let you know that they want more, or that they want to eat
faster or more slowly. All children want to smell, touch, and play with foods. Vision
is one way sighted children get themselves ready to take a bite of food. Children
with visual impairments may need your help to learn other ways to prepare for
eating. Here are a few ideas that may be helpful:
Try it! Have someone feed you while being blind folded. What was it like?
Did you find yourself noticing things you had not noticed before? Did you
trust the feeder? Were you fed too fast or too slow? Did you know what
was coming next? Was the spoon too big or too little? How did you take
control of the situation?
Keep a mealtime routine – the sounds of pots and pans in the kitchen, the
smell of food, the time of day – all are clues that let your child know a meal
is being prepared, also washing your child’s hands or putting him in his chair
Talk with your child about the foods to be eaten, naming and describing
them. Also let him know when the spoon is coming
Active participation – pay close attention to what your child is telling you
with words, sounds, and body language. Let your child help in feeding as
much as possible
Who controls the pace – let your child handle this one. Let him know that the
spoon is coming, bring it his lower lip, then let him open his mouth to let you
know he is ready
Touch preference – temperature changes may seem more dramatic if your
child is not warned that the temperature of the food is coming and is
different from the last mouthful
Texture changes – may be more difficult for your child – let him know if it is
smooth, lumpy, or a meat, for example
Encourage children to eat or try new foods by eating with your children – your
attitudes affect theirs; have your children help prepare the meal; avoid forcing the
issue – it tastes better when you want to eat it; serve your meal in small portions;
offer a variety of foods when your children are young; serve foods as “finger
foods” so they can feel textures; and ask your child what foods they like.
Many diseases begin or are passed along in the food – preparation process. Keeping
your kitchen, foodstuffs, and utensils in a sanitary condition to prevent the
outbreak or spread of disease is a necessary health precaution. Be sure you follow
simple rules: food must be in sound condition, unspoiled, and safe for human
consumption; if you have any doubts, throw the food away; all milk and milk
products, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and other food items which can spoil in a
refrigerator that is not kept below 45 F degrees; use silverware and utensils that
are easily cleaned and that are free of breaks, cracks, and chips where food
particles could lodge; always wash your hands and your children’s hands in soap and
water before preparing food or working in the food – preparation area; and the
unused portion of formula, breast milk, or infant food remaining in the container
cannot be reheated or served a second time.
Allow your child/children to help you prepare meals in the kitchen. Children can
learn many concepts as they help in the kitchen. The kitchen is also a place to help
them with muscle development, coordination, and social skills.
 Gain in muscle development and coordination as they pour juice and milk,
wash fruits and vegetables, spread peanut butter, stir ingredients in a bowl,
cut foods such as bananas, cheese, apples, grate cheese, peel hard-boiled
eggs, or use a hand beater
 Build self-confidence as they realize they can produce something valuable
that is used by others, complete jobs usually done by grown-ups, enjoy what
Learn math concepts as they count the number of eggs, spoonfuls, etc., cut
foods into halves, quarters, etc., set the table (placing one cup, plate, etc. at
each chair), use the terms “more” and “less”, “bigger” and “smaller”, measure
cups and teaspoons
Develop language skills as they listen to sounds in the kitchen, use new
vocabulary words (sift, chop, blend, stir, etc.), practice talking and building
sentences, or follow directions from you or a recipe
Improve social development as they learn about foods from other cultures,
learn that males and females can enjoy work in the kitchen, and cooperate
and work together
Learn science concepts as they learn that water can be liquid, solid, or gas,
discover that fruits and vegetables have seeds, understand the relationship
between certain foods and what is made from those (fruits and juices, milk
and yogurt, etc)
Improve their use of senses by comparing tastes (sour, bitter, sweet, salty),
touching textures (prickly pineapple, smooth apple, bumpy cauliflower),
noticing smells (from spices and cooking foods), listening for sounds
(crunching carrots, whirling blender), seeing colors, and comparing sizes and
To summarize, you want to have a relaxed meal or snack time to help you and your
child’s day go more smoothly. You do not want to look forward to arguing with your
children over food and eating habits. Serve foods that look attractive, colorful,
and nutritious, have children learn something about nutrition or what are “good
foods” so when you are not around they will naturally choose foods that are good
for them, let children choose and serve themselves so they start to build up this
sense of how much they can eat and what foods they need, let your children help
prepare the meals so they have a more positive attitude about meals, and serve
smaller portions and then give them seconds if they ask for them.
Ketogenic Diet – when medications fail to control a child’s seizures, your Doctor
may recommend a special high fat, low carbohydrate, restricted calorie diet, which
results in ketosis. The diet is designed to change the way your child gets energy
from food – instead of getting energy from glucose (carbohydrate), the diet forces
the body to burn fat. The diet consists of 3-4 times as much fat as carbohydrates
and protein combined. Some of the fat is given in the form of cream or butter.
Calories are strictly limited and parents need to be very careful not to allow your
child to eat anything – even cookie crumbs – that is not on the diet or has not been
pre-measured and pre-weighed within the formula. The diet is usually begun in the
hospital where your child can be watched closely. You need to be sure to be
followed closely by a nutritionist and your Doctor. After asking many parents who
have tried the ketogenic diet for seizure control, many say it did seem to work for
1-2 months and controlled seizures along with the use of medications, but then the
seizures would begin to reappear again.
Common answers to questions asked regarding the ketogenic diet:
 The diet seems to be most effective for myoclonic and minor motor
seizures, but may also be helpful in tonic-clonic and complex partial seizures
 Make sure you talk to your Doctor and other families who have been on the
diet before starting it on your own. It is usually used as a secondary method
of treatment when medications do not seem to adequately control seizures.
Also, if the adverse effects of the medications are too great, the diet may
be introduced so that the medications can hopefully be reduced
 Not all hospitals have an active keto team. Your Doctor or neurologist will
be able to help you make a decision as to the appropriateness of your child
to try the diet. If hospitalized to start the diet, usually 4-5 days is all.
Your child can be on the diet 2 years and weaned off into the 3rd year
 If your child has allergies to foods or intolerant to dairy products, it can be
adjusted to fit a ketogenic diet
 How do we mange birthdays, holidays? These can be managed and do not
need to be food centered. For example – trade Halloween candy for nickels
to buy a new toy
 How will my child feel on this diet? During the fasting phase, he may feel
lethargic, sleepy, and cranky. As the diet begins, lethargy may continue as
well as nausea and vomiting, which may be due to excessive ketosis or the
side effects of the change in metabolism from using glucose to using fats.
It may be related to drug levels. Children should return to normal – some
kids even get more energetic with time. One common side effect of a high
fat diet for everyone is a slower gastric emptying time, thus even though
the portions look smaller, the food will stay in the stomach longer and give a
longer feeling of fullness
 What if your child “cheats” on the diet? Be prepared for this to happen at
least once – try to minimize this, but if it does happen, recognize the
mistake and pick up with the regular meal plan for the next meal
 Will medications (including anticonvulsants) be discontinued after your child
starts on the diet? This totally depends on your child and your Doctor.
They may very well be reduced, but to completely stop medications may not
be wise
 If the diet seems to be working, how long will your child be on the diet? If
your child were seizure free for 2 years, most neurologists would
recommend switching back to a normal diet. The success rates of the ability
of children to remain seizure free are not well studied
Is a 2 year old to young to start the diet? No, it is not too young. This is a
great age to start the diet – no problems have been experienced. Out of 15
patients on the diet in one particular study, the youngest was 11 months and
the oldest was 12 years. The best thing to do in the fasting period is to
check blood sugar levels frequently, and to treat them accordingly
Can the diet be used for your child with a gastrostomy (Gtube) who is
allergic to dairy products? The answer is yes, despite the allergies. You can
use a formula that has no dairy products in it. You should also use a very
good Vitamin/Mineral supplement
What about nutritional supplements? The ketogenic diet is very nutritionally
inadequate for Vitamins and Minerals. One report suggests using a child’s
complete supplement alternating with an adult complete Multi Vitamin to get
all the trace elements. This same report suggests adding Calcium 750-1200
mg to meet daily Calcium needs. Another big source of the diet is in the
constipation medications, so be careful with those also; this article suggests
using Milk of Magnesia. What about fluoride supplements? There are
several on the market with carbohydrates – Fluoritab (Fluoritab Corp) and
Karidium (Lorvic Corp)
What are some good finger foods for toddlers? Chicken strips, veggie
pieces dipped in seasoned mayonnaise dip, chunks of bananas or melon dipped
in whipped cream, Ritz Bitz with butter or peanut butter on top
Some strategies to increase low morning ketone levels – try a later dinner or
try 4 meals/day instead of 3. Make sure you check ketones frequently
Can children develop kidney stones with the diet? Yes – if one develops,
slight liberalization of fluids seems to correct the problem
Halitosis (Foul Breath)
Halitosis is defined as an offensive breath resulting from poor oral hygiene, dental
or oral infections, the ingestion of certain foods – onions or garlic, or some
systemic diseases as the odor of acetone, a sign of diabetes. Halitosis describes
any breath odor that is unpleasant, disagreeable, or offensive. Usually, it is easy to
detect, but an embarrassed person may take measures to hide it. Occasionally, the
person is unaware of halitosis, although he may complain of a bad taste in his mouth
or he may believe he has bad breath, but no one else can detect it. Halitosis can
result from disorders of the oral cavity, nasal passages, sinuses, or respiratory
tract, as well as gastrointestinal disorders associated with belching, regurgitation,
or vomiting. It may also be a side effect of oral or inhalant drugs.
Medical causes for halitosis:
 Bowel obstruction – a late sign of both small and large bowel obstruction. In
small bowel obstruction, vomiting of gastric, bile, or fecal (stool) material
produces a related breath odor, may also find diarrhea or constipation,
abdominal distention, and intermittent periumbilical cramping pain.
Auscultation (listening) initially reveals hyperactive bowel sounds, later
hypoactive or absent bowel sounds signaling complete bowel obstruction. In
large bowel obstruction, fecal vomiting produces fecal breath odor. Unlike
small bowel obstruction, abdominal pain is milder, more constant, and usually
located lower in the abdomen. Abdominal distention may be dramatic and
loops of large bowel may be visible
 Bronchiectasis – (a condition where dilatation and destruction of the
bronchial walls, resulting usually from infection) usually, this disorder
produces foul or putrid halitosis, however, some may have a sickening sweet
breath odor. Typically, your child would also have a chronic productive cough
with copious, foul smelling, mucopurulent sputum. The cough is aggravated
by lying down and is most productive in the morning. Other signs and
symptoms include exertional dyspnea, fatigue, malaise, weakness, and weight
loss. Lungs will have rales (crackles) noted over the affected areas during
inspiration. Clubbing of the fingers is a late sign
 Common cold – a musty breath odor may accompany the common cold.
Usually, this disorder also causes a dry, hacking cough with sore throat,
sneezing, nasal congestion with rhinorrhea (thin, watery discharge from the
nose), headache, malaise, fatigue, and aching joints and muscles
 Gingivitis – characterized by red, edematous gums can cause halitosis. The
gingivae between the teeth become bulbous (swollen) and bleed easily with
slight trauma – a big and common problem with children with Batten Disease
– a lot of times your child will be unable to use a toothbrush due to the pain
of the gums, so toothettes (little sponges on a stick) are an alternative.
This is also a big problem especially if taking Dilantin (a side effect of this
 Ketoacidosis – can produce a fruity breath odor, when diabetes is a
 Lung abscess – causes putrid halitosis. The major sign is a productive cough
with copious (large amounts), purulent, often bloody sputum, chills, dyspnea,
headache, anorexia, malaise, pleuritic chest pain (like pleurisy where the
lining of the lungs is inflamed), weight loss, and temporary clubbing of the
fingers. Will also hear rales (crackles – usually fluid) as breath sounds and
chest percussion will be dull on the affected side
 Periodontal disease – halitosis is accompanied by an unpleasant taste. The
gums bleed spontaneously or with slight trauma and are marked by pus filled
Pharyngitis – (inflammation of the pharynx – which is the passageway for the
respiratory and digestive tracts and changes shape to allow the formation of
various vowel sounds) halitosis is a chief sign, also complains of a foul taste
in the mouth, an extremely sore throat, and a choking sensation. You will see
a swollen, red, ulcerated pharynx, possibly with a grayish membrane, fever
and cervical lymphadenopathy (disease of the lymph nodes)
Kidney disorder (chronic) – breath may smell like urine or ammonia, your
child may be lethargic, irritable, decreased mental status, muscular
twitches, muscle wasting, anorexia, or signs of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding
Sinusitis – acute sinusitis causes a purulent nasal discharge that leads to bad
breath, will cause postnasal drip, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough,
malaise, headache, facial pain, tenderness, and fever, chronic sinusitis causes
mucopurulent discharge that leads to a musty breath odor, also post nasal
drip, chronic productive cough
Thrush which is a yeast infection of the mouth is a problem with our children
with Batten Disease – normally need to have an oral liquid “swish and swallow”
antibiotic to be helpful – you will see white patches in the mouth and it is
usually painful to eat anything orally if not treated, poor nutrition will result
for at least a few days until treated, food and fluids need to be encouraged
Zenker’s diverticulum – is a condition of the esophagus causing bad breath
and a bad taste in the mouth associated with regurgitation
If your child no longer eats oral food – this too may be a cause of bad
breath. As we eat and drink we help keep our mouth clear of food particles
between our teeth or secretions to be dried in our mouth
If you feel there is a medical problem that is causing the halitosis of your child – be
sure to talk to your Doctor about it. He may order mouth, sinus, chest, upper
gastrointestinal (GI) series or endoscopy (EGD) to try and get a diagnosis.
To help control halitosis, encourage good oral hygiene, using mouthwash and peridex
(a combination of hydrogen peroxide, normal saline and water) frequently (may need
to do every 1-2 hours while awake). A water pic or battery operated toothbrush
may also be helpful, but not necessarily better than a regular toothbrush.
Dental Issues
Some of the issues in the Halitosis section can also be applied here as well. It is
important to have your child/children brush their teeth daily or twice a day to
prevent dental caries. If your child is unable to brush his own teeth, then you will
have to do it for them. Also, with the use of mouthwash and/or peridex can be
helpful. You may need suction available to clean out your child’s mouth if he/she
has swallowing difficulties or excessive saliva. The amount of sugars a child eats
also can increase the amount of cavities. Hereditary factors can play an important
role, for example, gum disease or soft teeth (enamel) are commonly passed on from
one generation to another.
If your child needs to have dental work done there are some issues you need to
remember. There are various indications for the use of sedatives in children with
disabilities and the need for dental care. These can include children who are unable
to cooperate because of extreme anxiety or phobia concerning dental treatment,
individuals who exhibit involuntary movement caused by neuromotor disorders, and
children who are unable to understand the need for dental care and are unable to
cooperate in a way that allows the dental professional to provide optimal care.
Additionally, some children capable of cooperating for brief, minor procedures may
require sedation for more extensive treatment needs. Dental professionals are
trained in a number of sedative techniques that can alleviate a child’s anxiety
and/or control disruptive behaviors in the course of dental treatment. It is very
important that you familiarize the Doctor with your child’s medical history and
provide information on any medications your child may be taking. Sedative
techniques run along a continuum from light, conscious sedation, through
unconscious sedation all the way to general anesthesia.
I have asked Doctors and also on the recent survey that we conducted about any
side effects from anesthesia for children with Batten Disease and from the
Doctor’s viewpoint, the use of nitrous oxide and the main other drugs used in
dentistry should not present a problem for your child with Batten Disease. The
major problem that parents have reported is the increase of seizures the day of
and possibly the following day after dental treatment.
A complete section on dental issues will be addressed on its own coming soon.
Oral Stimulation and Treatment Program
It is very important that an ORAL STIMULATION program using various tastes in
drops of liquids that refresh and moisten the mouth be started as soon as possible.
You can use a toothbrush, a NUK, a toothette, a cloth moistened with a liquid, or a
spray. You need to keep your child’s mouth clean of crusty build up, the roof and
the tongue, as well as the teeth. By running your finger along the outside of the
gums to the back where the jaw is hinged, and by applying pressure at that joint,
you can get the mouth to open. Using a bite stick or a jaw prop (ask your dentist) a
thorough cleaning can be done. Your child still needs to see a dentist on a regular
basis and there are more and more dental technicians trained to work with children
with special needs (some areas even have dentists that will come to your home, so
call your state dental association if you need help). It may be helpful as times goes
on to have a suction machine handy with a hard plastic tube (Yankauer or tonsil tip)
attached to suction the back of the throat. It is important that you stimulate your
child’s mouth so that the swallowing process will be maintained. This allows your
child to manage his own saliva and secretions for as long as possible. As changes
occur, you may find that the gag reflex may become easier to stimulate and you will
have to be very careful when you are working in the mouth, so not to antagonize
aspiration; and as time goes on, the gag reflex may disappear entirely, so you will
recognize that you will have to think about doing more suctioning.
Oral-Motor Treatment
Oral-motor treatment helps children develop the appropriate use of their oral,
breathing, and voicing systems. Opportunities are created for exploration, sound
play, and as the exploration of sensorimotor skills required for oral feeding. An
oral-motor treatment program emphasizes the development of sensory awareness,
perception, and discrimination within the mouth, and the use of oral movement to
explore and understand the world of toys, clothing, body parts, and sounds. Small
amounts of food and liquid may be introduced to provide tastes. Smells, and
temperatures, elicit specific oral movements when your child is medically able to
handle them. It can also emphasize your child’s acceptance of cleaning the mouth
with a washcloth, swab, or toothbrush. Regular cleaning reduces the amount of
bacteria carried in the saliva, and lowers the risk of pneumonia if your child
aspirates saliva. A positive oral-motor treatment program emphasizes the
underlying sensory and motor prerequisites for developing feeding skills. This
builds the foundation of comfort and skill that enables your child to learn to eat
without a struggle. We have to feed children to help them develop the skills they
will need.
Swallowing Safety and Aspiration
What is Good Eating and Swallowing?
If miss-swallowing occurs, some of the food and drink may get into their airway and
cause them to cough or choke. These respiratory events may result in an airway
blockage or may cause respiratory infections and may damage their lungs.
We think about swallowing as having four phases:
 First – we regulate the amount of food that goes into our mouths and get
the food ready for swallowing. This may involve chewing it or just mixing it
with saliva, collecting it on our tongue and moving it into place where it is
ready to be swallowed.
 Second – we move it out of our mouth and into our throat. This movement
begins the swallowing reflex
 Third – we move it past the opening to our lungs and toward the esophagus.
The esophagus is the structure that leads to the stomach
Fourth – the food is moved through the esophagus and into the stomach
Swallowing is a motor skill. The general skills and competencies we use to regulate
swallowing are not unlike those used for other motor skills. Alertness and attention
to the task is important. We must regulate the rate of intake by pacing the
activity properly and by limiting the amount of food that is swallowed at one time.
Essential components of good eating and swallowing are:
 Having the motor skills and the muscle competencies to prepare the food
and liquid for swallowing
 Knowing when it is ready to be swallowed
 Coordinating breathing and swallowing so as to avoid getting food in the
If we begin to have trouble with something we are swallowing, it is important to
know when, and how to fix the situation. We may use a drink to clear the trouble –
some material or expel it, or continue to swallow until we feel safe once again.
What are the signs of feeding and swallowing disorders? Feeding and swallowing
disorders may appear in a variety of ways:
 Early on, your child may not advance his or her eating skills. Chewing, biting
off pieces of food, drinking from a cup and regulating the pace of eating are
some of the more common skills that may not develop well
 Your child may refuse to eat enough or may eat only a restricted variety of
foods. (Picky eating can be a sign of a child’s temperament. And as long as
your child is doing well, it is not necessarily a problem)
 Eating behaviors may be disruptive
 Your child may not want to sit down to eat
 He or she may cry or get angry during eating
 Your child may not maintain good attention to eating
 He or she may have difficulty keeping food or saliva in their mouths and
preparing the food properly for swallowing
Associated Nutritional And Health Problems
Feeding and swallowing problems may predispose your child to choking and may
interfere with the quality of life by making meal times difficult times. These are
the immediate problems. However, in the long term, feeding and swallowing
problems can cause health problems. Children may become malnourished or
dehydrated. Dental and gingival disease, as well as respiratory disorders, can result
from feeding and swallowing problems.
Improving Feeding and Swallowing Problems
The first consideration in promoting safe swallowing is to make mealtime, taking
medications, and teeth brushing, as easy as possible for your child. This can be
achieved by adjusting seating for eating, adjusting diet textures and consistencies,
and using utensils that can be easily managed. Feeding techniques may need to be
adjusted. Extra supervision and assistance may be needed. Good communications
between caregiver and your child or adult is essential for regulating behavior and
for reducing the stresses that exist when a task is difficult or when a routine task
is changed. Environmental stresses play a role in the difficulties that your child
may have when they eat. An unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people should be
considered as extra stresses. Noise, confusion, and lighting can all make a
difference. When the environmental stresses are greater, the caregivers can help
by simplifying the eating task. Easier foods, slower pace, calmer setting, and close,
gentle supervision can help. Improving skills, behaviors and competencies can be
achieved through therapy, education, and home programs. Once improvements in
the basics have been made, new routines can be incorporated into daily activities.
This is so for children as well as adults. The ultimate goal is safe swallowing and
enjoyable experiences. Safety and enjoyment are two sides of the same coin – they
cannot be separated.
Implications for your child with swallowing dysfunction:
 The absence of a swallowing reflex leaves the airway unprotected
 Delay in elicitation of the swallowing reflex places the airway in a risk
 Small cavities formed by sinuses in the mouth can serve as catching pools
for small boluses of food
 The shared use of the pharynx by respiratory and feeding systems increases
the risk of aspiration in children whose respiratory systems are
 The infant anatomical differences create additional protective and learning
systems which may not be present in the older infant or child with severe
swallowing dysfunction
Difficulties with swallowing may interfere with taking oral medications or handling
the fluid that collects in the mouth during brushing teeth. The problems with
eating and swallowing may be caused by neuromuscular disorders, such as cerebral
palsy, problems with motor organization and planning, or by insufficient early
experiences to acquire the necessary motor skills. Individuals may have behavioral
and psychiatric problems that interfere with their eating. They may have medical
disorders that have made it difficult for them to acquire the skills and controls
needed for safe eating. Gastrointestinal, pulmonary, cardiac, or neurological
disorders are among the large number of medical disorders that can directly or
indirectly affect swallowing. A feeding evaluation by a skilled speech-language
pathologist knowledgeable about feeding and swallowing in children can be very
valuable in sorting out typical eating patterns, behavioral - problem eating patterns,
and underlying swallowing problems.
Difficulty in swallowing (Dysphagia) is common among all age groups. The term
dysphagia refers to the feeling of difficulty passing food or liquid from the mouth
to the stomach. This may be caused by many factors, most of which are temporary
and non-threatening. Difficulties in swallowing rarely represent a more serious
disease. When the difficulty does not clear up in a short period of time, you should
make an appointment and see your Doctor or a specialist in that field. People
normally swallow hundreds of times a day to eat solids, drink liquids and swallow the
normal saliva and mucus that the body produces.
What causes swallowing disorders?
Any interruption in the swallowing process can cause difficulties. It may be due to
simple causes such as poor teeth or a common cold. One of the most common
causes of dysphagia is gastroesophageal reflux disease. This occurs when stomach
acid moves up the esophagus to the pharynx, causing discomfort. Other causes may
include: progressive neurological disorder, the presence of a tracheostomy tube, a
paralyzed or unmoving vocal cord, a tumor in the mouth, throat or esophagus, or
surgery in the neck or esophageal areas.
Symptoms of swallowing disorders may include:
 Drooling
 A feeling that food or liquid is sticking in the throat
 Discomfort in the throat or chest (when gastroesophageal reflux disease is
 A sensation of a foreign body or “lump” in the throat
 Weight loss and inadequate nutrition due to prolonged or more significant
problems with swallowing
 Coughing and choking caused by bits of food, liquid, or saliva not passing
easily during swallowing, and being sucked into the lungs
Who Evaluates and Treats Swallowing Disorders?
When dysphagia is persistent and the cause is not apparent, the Doctor will discuss
the history of the problem and examine the mouth and throat. He may also use a
laryngoscope (a flexible tube with a light and mirror) to see the back of the tongue,
throat and larynx - voice box). They may also want to do x-rays of the swallowing
mechanism, a barium swallow or an upper gastrointestinal (GI) series.
If special problems exist, a speech pathologist may consult with the radiologist
regarding a modified barium swallow or videofluoroscopy. These help to identify all
four stages of the swallowing process. Using different consistencies of food and
liquid, and having your child swallow in various positions; a speech pathologist will
test the ability to swallow. An exam by a neurologist may be necessary if the
swallowing disorder stems from the nervous system.
Possible Treatments
Many of these disorders can be treated with medication. Drugs that slow stomach
acid production, muscle relaxants, and antacids are a few of the many medicines
available. Treatment is tailored to the particular cause of the swallowing disorder.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease can often be treated by changing eating and living
habits, For example:
 Eat a bland diet with smaller, more frequent meals
 Eliminate caffeine
 Reduce weight and stress
 Avoid food within three hours of bedtime
 Elevate the head of the bed at night
If these do not help, antacids between meals and at bedtime may provide relief.
Many swallowing disorders may be helped by direct swallowing therapy. A speech
pathologist can provide special exercises for coordinating the swallowing muscles or
restimulating the nerves that trigger the swallow reflex. Children may also be
taught simple ways to place food in the mouth or position the body and head to help
the swallowing process occur successfully. Some children with swallowing disorders
have difficulty feeding themselves. An occupational therapist can aid your child
and family in feeding techniques. These techniques can make your child as
independent as possible. A dietician or nutritional expert can determine the amount
of food or liquid necessary to sustain an individual and whether supplements are
necessary. Once the cause is determined, swallowing disorders may be treated with
medication, swallowing therapy and surgery. Surgery is used to treat certain
problems. If a narrowing or stricture exists, the area may need to be stretched or
dilated. If a muscle is too tight, it may need to be dilated or released surgically.
This procedure is called a myotomy and is performed by a specialist. Many causes
can contribute to swallowing disorders. If you have a persistent problem
swallowing, please see your Doctor.
When A Child Aspirates
The ability to swallow safely is the primary prerequisite for becoming an oral
feeder. When your child aspirates, oral feedings are often discontinued, and your
child is given a feeding tube for eating. Many professionals recommend stopping
the use of food at home and in therapy programs until your child swallows without
aspirating as seen on a modified barium swallow study. This leaves parents and
therapists with many questions, and implies a wait-and-see approach.
If your child is prepared physically and supported emotionally, a swallowing study
can provide invaluable information.
 A swallowing study can identify aspiration that occurs during the study. When
your child aspirates during a swallowing study, it can be observed through
fluoroscopy. This indicates that your child has a vulnerable swallow, and has
aspirated during this specific swallowing study. The vulnerability of the swallow
is an important consideration, because it suggests that your child may aspirate
at other times when there is physical or emotional stress
 A swallowing study can identify children who have “silent aspiration”. When
food or liquid enters the airway, a protective reflex triggers a cough to propel
the food upward and prevent it from entering the lungs. Children who cough and
choke during feeding are at high risk for aspiration, because we know clinically
that a part of the meal has entered the top of the airway. Coughing is a good
sign, but it does not tell us that your child always protects the airway and does
not aspirate. A swallowing study can tell us whether your child coughs out
everything that goes astray, or whether some enters the lungs in spite of the
cough. Many children do not cough when they aspirate. Low sensory awareness
or difficulty controlling movement of the vocal folds can allow food or liquid to
pass through the airway and make a silent journey to the lungs. The feeder
does not have immediate feedback of the times when the liquid goes into the
airway. A modified barium swallow study is the only way to verify aspiration.
Many parents are surprised to find that their child is experiencing aspiration,
because your child shows no indication through coughing
 A swallowing study can identify the consistency of food or liquid, which your
child can handle safely. Liquids and foods of different consistencies can be
used and compared during the study. Some children do well with one or more
consistencies, yet aspirate with other consistencies. Although we often do a
swallowing study to identify or rule out aspiration, its primary clinical value is to
identify situations in which swallowing is more or less safe for your child. There
are many young children, for example, who aspirate on thin liquids who swallow
well when the liquids are thickened. These children are able to remain oral
feeders if thin liquids are eliminated from their diet
 A swallowing study can identify risk factors for aspiration. Children, who do not
aspirate during the brief period of the swallowing study, may still be at high risk
for aspiration in other circumstances. A child who does not clear the final
swallow of liquid out of the small pocket between the base of the tongue and
the epiglottis may experience an overflow of the liquid into an open airway when
he moves. Food residue may cling to the walls of the pharynx when pharyngeal
The swallowing study is extremely limited in telling us all we want to know about
your child’s swallowing ability. It is important to recognize what the study
cannot do.
 A swallowing study cannot tell us that the child does not aspirate. In
order to limit your child’s exposure to radiation, a modified barium
swallow study observes a very small set of your child’s swallow. If your
child’s swallowing ability varies under different conditions, aspiration
may not occur during the swallows that are filmed. Some children
swallow well at the beginning of a meal, but tire after 10-15 minutes.
When they are fatigued, their swallow may deteriorate and cause
aspiration. Other children have a great deal of difficulty getting
themselves organized to eat. They may do poorly at the beginning of a
meal, but do well once they have established a comfortable suck-swallow
rhythm. It is critically important to integrate clinical observations of
your child’s eating a full meal with information from the swallowing
 A swallowing study cannot tell us how often or in what circumstances a
child will aspirate. The study tells us only that your child aspirated
during the swallowing study. This is a very small sample of your child’s
abilities. Under more ideal circumstances, your child may be able to
swallow more safely
 A swallow study cannot tell us whether oral feeding should be
discontinued. The information from a swallowing study is integrated
with other knowledge about your child and family. It is only one part of
the objective and subjective data that is taken into consideration in
making a decision about oral feeding. It is very important to talk to
parents about what they want and what their child wants. There are
always ways of improving the safety of a child’s oral feeding skills. If
parents want to continue feeding their child orally, it is important for
therapists to support their decision, and work together to find easier,
more effective ways of eating
 A swallowing study cannot predict whether your child will be able to eat
safely in the future. A swallowing study tells us about the present
moment. With maturation and therapy many children who once
aspirated are able to eat and drink safely. Other children, who did not
show aspiration when younger, may begin to aspirate during periods of
illness or if their overall coordination deteriorates
The Impact of Aspiration On The Lungs
All instances of aspiration are not equal. The effect of aspiration on the lungs and
on health depends upon at least 5 different features.
 Acid: When a child aspirates refluxed food that has been mixed with
stomach acid (aspirated coming up), it is more likely to cause an aspiration
pneumonia or damage the lungs than food or formula that is more alkaline
(aspirate going down)
 Fat: Food or liquid containing fat molecules (milk, yogurt, meat broth) is
more dangerous to the lungs, and may trigger pneumonia faster, than food or
liquid that is composed primarily of water (fruits, vegetables, grains). This
is because the lungs are used to handling water in the air we breathe and can
release it more easily than a fat, which is foreign to the lungs
 Amount: There are estimates that our lungs can handle aspiration of 10-20%
of what we swallow. Children often aspirate small amounts when they are
learning to eat by mouth. If this is a very small amount of a safe food, the
aspiration is less likely to trigger aspiration pneumonia. If larger amounts
are aspirated, or if smaller amounts are aspirated every time your child
swallows, it is more dangerous
 Bacteria: The mouth itself plays host to colonies of bacteria. The number
and type of bacteria depend a great deal on dental health and oral hygiene.
When the mouth is kept clean through regular brushing of the teeth or
wiping of the gums, bacterial growth is kept to a minimum. When your child
resists oral care, bacterial growth multiples. Children can develop cavities
and gum inflammation, which further increase bacterial growth. If your
child is on medication to reduce mucous and other secretions, the bacteria in
the existing saliva, alone or mixed with small amounts of food or liquid, the
bacteria will be carried into the lungs. An aspiration pneumonia can result
from a bacterial infection
 Health: The overall state of your child’s health and wellness, and specifically
the health of the lungs plays a major role. This is the guiding principle we
use in understanding that when a group of people are exposed to a virus and
get sick. Our bodies are full of bacteria and viruses that float around the
environment we live in. We tend to get sick when our overall health is poor,
when we are fatigued, under stress, or lack control over our lives. Many
young children have very healthy lungs. Aspiration may not initially cause
pneumonia. However, with constant aspiration, the lungs may become weaker
or more vulnerable. At some point, aspiration begins to cause a severe
pneumonia because the lungs are no longer strong enough to stay well.
Chronic aspiration pneumonia may result. Infants and children who have
already experienced lung damage because of prematurity, respiratory
distress syndrome, or broncho-pulmonary dysplasia are more vulnerable to
aspiration than children who start out with strong, healthy lungs. Some
Struggling to Eat
The struggle to eat contributes to aspiration and to feeding aversion. The ability
to suck and swallow safely is built on a foundation of sensory skills, motor skills, and
comfortable coordination of swallowing and breathing. When one or more of these
skills is missing or compromised, eating can be frightening, uncomfortable, or take
an excessive amount of effort. Stress and struggle often convinces an infant that
eating is dangerous and uncomfortable. Feeding aversion often has its roots in your
child’s early memories of panic and inability to breathe that are associated with
early feeding attempts.
Asking the Right Questions
A swallowing study can tell us so much more than simply whether your child is
aspirating or not. Each study should be centered on a set of questions that have
been prioritized. What are the most important questions for your child at this
 Is there a delay in the swallow with any consistency? A delayed swallow
indicates that your child may be at risk for aspiration even when aspiration
does not occur during the swallowing study
 Is the swallowing ability influenced by the consistency of the food or liquid?
Are there differences between thin vs. thicker liquids or thick liquids and
pureed consistency? This information can help identify the consistency that
promotes the coordinated and safe swallow
 Is swallowing ability influenced by the amount of the food or liquid? Is
there a difference in swallowing skill when a single swallow of food or liquid
is compared with 2 or 3 consecutive swallows? Some children are very safe
when they take a few swallows and then have a short pause. A child can do
very well with small sips, but may aspirate when drinking multiple consecutive
 Does the timing of the meal influence swallowing ability? Is there a
difference between the beginning of a feeding and the end? Some children
do very well at the beginning of a meal, but the swallow deteriorates, as they
get tired. If your child typically does better at the beginning of a meal, and
begins to have more trouble after 20 minutes, you can ask the therapist and
radiologist to set up the swallowing study in two parts. They would evaluate
Guidelines for Introducing Food
Use the following guidelines for selecting the food you offer to your child in the
early stages of therapy. These suggestions reduce the risk of damaging the lungs
if food or liquid is aspirated.
 A child who develops aspiration pneumonia should always be checked for
gastroesophageal reflux. Remember that reflux does not automatically
result in vomiting or spitting up. Many children reflux enough acid stomach
contents to enter the lungs without any external sign that this is happening.
 Until your child is swallowing well and safely, use primarily water, fruits,
vegetables, and grains. If aspirated, these foods will do less damage to
the lungs. Begin with a low-acid fruit or vegetable such as bananas or
carrots. Introduce small amounts of a more-acid fruit such as peaches or
applesauce later. Avoid any food that has a high fat content. This includes
most meat and dairy products.
 Brush your child’s teeth or clean the mouth before offering food or
liquid. Remember that the mouth contains bacteria. These bacteria can
increase the risk of aspiration if they are mixed with the food or liquid that
your child swallows. A clean mouth reduces the risk of illness if there is
some aspiration during this learning period
 Give very small amounts of food at times when your child’s coordination
is the best. Children who have poor coordination for eating often do well at
the beginning of a meal. As they fatigue, their coordination gets worse, and
they may begin to aspirate. Do not push children to eat more when they
want to stop. Some children are very aware of their vulnerability for
aspiration. They know that if they eat more, they are uncomfortable, or do
not feel well. Trust your child, and appreciate the small amounts that are
taken easily and happily.
 Look carefully at your child’s state of health and wellness. Seek
alternatives that increase your child’s overall wellness. Wellness is quite
different from not being sick. Talk to Doctors, dieticians and health care
providers who use complementary medicine approaches. Use food to work on
feeding skills only when your child is healthy
 If your child has had a swallowing study that showed aspiration, look
carefully at alternatives with the Doctor, therapist, and parents. If
Fistula, Atresia, or Stricture
Just a few words for these three problems. A fistula is defined as an abnormal
passage between two internal organs due to a congenital defect, injury, or infection.
Atresia is defined as a congenital anomaly in which a normal body opening, duct or
canal fails to form as in the mouth or nares. And a stricture is defined as an
abnormal narrowing of the lumen of a hollow organ as the esophagus, owing to
inflammation, external pressure or scarring. Treatment varies depending on the
These are mentioned only because these are several congenital anomalies that may
occur which will greatly affect the swallowing abilities of your child that may not be
related to Batten Disease. These will most likely show up early in life, but need to
be reported to your Doctor. For example, many people have their esophagus dilated
to allow food to enter the stomach more easily – it needs to be done periodically to
keep the stricture open. These anomalies can be diagnosed with further
examination or on x-ray.
Hiccups are paroxysmal, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm that occur along
with contractions of the larynx and closure of the glottis, arresting the inflow of
air. Hiccups are commonly induced by common digestive disturbances or minor
stomach upsets, irritation of the diaphragm, often by overfilling of the stomach
with food or drink. Sometimes hiccups occur for no apparent reason. Cause of
consistent or chronic hiccups could be anything that affects the head, chest or
abdomen in where you have a contraction of the diaphragm, by stimulation of the
vagus nerve, either by the brain or by irritation anywhere along the length of the
vagus nerve. The vagus nerve sends the signal to the phrenic nerve, which leads to
the diaphragm, to spasms, to hiccups. Rare causes may include some intestinal, lung,
liver or kidney disorders. Occasionally, hiccups may be due to psychogenic causes
originating in the mind. Mild cases of hiccups usually disappear without treatment
or may last hours, when medical treatment may be necessary.
Hiccups are the result of an action the body takes to protect itself. Hiccups can
start because hot food has irritated some passage inside, or when gas in the
stomach presses upward against the diaphragm. The diaphragm separates the
chest from the stomach. The diaphragm tightens and pulls air into the lungs. But
air cannot get through and we feel a “bump” at the moment the air is stopped. So,
hiccups are a reflex action of the body trying to get food or gas out of the
stomach, thereby irritating the diaphragm. This in turn, affects the passage of air
in and out of the lungs. We feel this as a “bump” and say we have the hiccups.
Anything that causes irritation of and compression around the diaphragm can cause
the condition. Hiccups usually disappear within minutes. Most often, stimulation of
the phrenic nerve, which begins at the brain and leads to the diaphragm via the
esophagus, brings on attacks of hiccups. Culprits are likely to be breathing in too
much air at once, rapid swallowing, or stress. Hiccups occur when the diaphragm
and the muscles between the ribs suddenly contract. This causes a sharp,
uncontrollable inhalation of air, which does not reach the lungs because the muscle
spasm has closed the windpipe. Hiccups usually occur repeatedly in short spasms
lasting a few minutes. Sometimes, a small child or older child can “suck in” too much
air by sucking through a straw when there is no more liquid in the glass or cup.
What medications are prescribed for hiccups?
 Prochlorperazine (Compazine)
 Chloropromazine Hydrochloride (Thorazine)
These drugs are not a cure but would be worth trying.
Intractable hiccups may require surgery to cut the link between the phrenic nerve
and the diaphragm as a means of stopping the spasms.
Safe Natural Cures For Hiccups
 Carbon dioxide helps to stop hiccups; this can be achieved by holding your
breath, or breathing in and out of a paper bag (not plastic) about 10 times
 Slowly drinking water or sucking ice may help
 Avoid eating or drinking quickly
 Yell or sing as loud as you can
 Give an older baby a bottle of water with some sugar or honey in it – or
simply a small spoonful of sugar or honey, babies should not have honey
because many are allergic to it
 Lay on your back (they say that almost no one gets hiccups in the dentist’s
 Eat a spoonful of peanut butter
 “Sidekick” (a magazine) says to plug your ears with your fingers and drink
through a straw. If you do not have a straw than have someone help you
drink while you plug your ears
Hiccups are a fairly common problem seen in children with Batten Disease.
Pain is defined as a sensation in which a person experiences discomfort, distress, or
suffering. Pain may vary in intensity from that which produces mild discomfort to
that of intolerable agony. In most cases, pain stimuli are harmful to the body and
tend to bring about reactions by which the body protects itself. Adaptation to pain
stimuli does not readily occur. Pain is one of the cardinal symptoms of
As our children grow, we as parents get to know them as well as anyone. They could
be having pain by crying, pointing to an area, moaning, drawing up their legs or many
other forms of letting you know they hurt. Parents have to be in tuned to their
children and to pay attention to non-verbal or verbal ways of communication with
our children of Batten Disease. Keeping our children as comfortable as possible has
to be number the #1 priority. Due to the fact that our children with Batten Disease
have difficulty communicating, it is important to watch for little signs of your child
being uncomfortable and treat accordingly. In the latter stages of Batten Disease,
stronger medications may need to be used to help keep a child comfortable and the
thought of drug addiction should not become an issue. As parents, you must be
thinking of your child and sometimes may even need to “demand” stronger drugs be
prescribed to ease your child’s discomfort. Most of the time, Physicians are
extremely sensitive to your situation and will be more than happy to help keep your
child comfortable. Have a list of questions to ask your Doctor and discuss what
would be best for your child – does more testing need to be done or is this
something that we need to treat with pain medications? The key to getting the
right answer is knowing what questions to ask, and asking the right questions is an
important step that you can take to find the right treatment for the specific issue
of pain for your child.
There are many forms of pain relief, which are not related to medications. Many
have responded well to therapies such as music, hypnotics, herbal remedies,
magnets, water therapy, or muscle stimulants. There is also The American Pain
Foundation, which is an online resource for people with pain, their families, friends,
caregivers and the general public. This site is devoted to patient information and
advocacy, and provides many links to additional resources. The American Pain
Foundation (APS) web site will direct you to various resources for finding a pain
specialist to treat your pain. If you do not have personal access to the Internet
you can get online at your public library. The website is www.painfoundation.org.
Most painful conditions can be treated and we hope you will find successful
treatment options and compassionate care for your own situation. Another avenue
to pursue is Hospice nursing. There philosophy is comfort. They work with the
Physician to promote and provide comfort in the last stages of a terminal disease.
Most communities have a Hospice office where you can get specific information
that will be helpful for your child and your family when the time is appropriate.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea is defined as a sensation of profound repulsion to food or of impending
vomiting. Vomiting is defined to expel the contents of the stomach through the
esophagus and out of the mouth.
Common causes of nausea are sea and motion sickness, intense pain, emotional
stress, gallbladder disease, food poisoning, and various enteroviruses. Often
accompanied by autonomic signs (involuntary vital functions), such as hypersalivation
(increased saliva), diaphoresis (sweating), tachycardia (fast heart rate), pallor
(paleness), and tachypnea (retaining more carbon dioxide in the blood), it is closely
associated with anorexia and vomiting.
Vomiting is usually preceded by nausea. Vomiting results from a coordinated
sequence of abdominal muscle contractions and reverses esophageal peristalsis.
Ask your child to characterize the onset, duration, and intensity of the vomiting.
What precipitated the vomiting? What makes it subside? Explore any associated
complaints, particularly nausea, abdominal pain, anorexia, and weight loss, changes in
bowel habits or stool character, excessive bloating or fullness. Projectile vomiting
unaccompanied by nausea may indicate a brain disorder called increased intracranial
pressure, which would require immediate attention and treatment.
Nausea and vomiting is a common symptom of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and
always affect ingestion and digestion; decreased gastric motor activity, gastric
mucosal pallor, and duodenal contractions usually accompany nausea; also occurs
with fluid and electrolyte imbalances; infections; and metabolic, endocrine and
cardiac disorders as a result of drug therapy, surgery, and radiation. Nausea and
vomiting may also rise from severe pain, anxiety, overeating, or ingestion of
distasteful food or liquids. When checking your child for verbal complaints, focus
on gastrointestinal (GI), endocrine, and metabolic disorders, recent infections, look
at the medications – was a new one introduced recently – ask about any associated
complaints, particularly vomiting, abdominal pain, anorexia, and weight loss, changes
in bowel habits or stool character, excessive belching or flatus (gas), and a
sensation of bloating. Check out the color of his skin for jaundice, bruising and skin
turgor, the abdomen for distention, listen for bowel sounds, and palpate for rigidity
and tenderness. Make sure you look at other factors such as: has your child been
playing with a dirty toy, is he in the potty training stage, have you ever noticed your
child eating grass, dirt, paint chips, or other non-food materials? Has your child
complained of things outside the abdomen, possible a sore throat, a cough, or
burning when he urinates?
Both parasympathetic (vagal) and sympathetic nerves in the pharynx, stomach, bile
ducts, bowel, mesentery, and peritoneum (as well as in the heart) carry impulses to
the brain’s vomiting center. Therefore, pharyngeal, gastric or peritoneal irritation,
as well as distention of a hollow viscous and myocardial ischemia, may result in
nausea and vomiting. Vestibular, neurologic, and metabolic disturbances that
stimulate the brain’s vomiting center do so by way of a chemoreceptor trigger zone,
located in the fourth ventricle in the brain. Drugs and toxins may have the same
Vomitus: Characteristics and Causes – When you collect a sample or observe your
child’s vomitus, observe it carefully for clues to the underlying disorder. Here’s
what this vomitus may indicate:
 Bile stained (greenish) vomitus – obstruction below the pylorus, as from a
duodenal lesion (ulcer)
 Bloody vomitus – upper gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, as from gastritis or
peptic ulcer if bright red; if dark red, as from esophageal or gastric varices
 Brown vomitus with a fecal odor – intestinal obstruction or infarction
 Burning, bitter-tasting vomitus – excessive hydrochloric acid or gastric
 Coffee-ground vomitus – digested blood from slowly bleeding gastric or
duodenal lesion
 Undigested food – gastric outlet obstruction, as from gastric tumor or ulcer
 Black, tarry, or red stools – indicate gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding could be
upper or lower gastrointestinal (GI) system
Medical causes for nausea and vomiting:
 Adrenal insufficiency for endocrine disorders in the adrenal glands can
cause nausea, may also see anorexia, diarrhea, weakness, fatigue, weight
loss, bronze skin, hypotension, and a weak irregular pulse
 Appendicitis – a brief period of nausea may accompany onset of abdominal
pain. The pain may begin as vague epigastric or periumbilical discomfort to
rapidly progressing to severe stabbing pain in the right lower quadrant of
the abdomen, along with rigidity, tenderness, fever, constipation, diarrhea,
tachycardia, anorexia, and moderate malaise
 Cholecystitis (acute) – gallbladder inflammation – nausea often follows
severe right upper quadrant pain that may radiated to the back or shoulders
along with tenderness, rigidity, distention, fever with chills, and diaphoresis
 Cholelithiasis – (actual gallstones) attacks of severe right upper quadrant or
epigastric pain after ingestion of fatty foods can cause nausea and vomiting.
Other symptoms include tenderness, guarding, flatulence, belching,
Congestive heart failure –can see nausea and vomiting, especially with right
heart failure, tachycardia, ventricular gallop, fatigue, dyspnea, rales
(crackles) in the lungs, peripheral edema (seen a lot in our children with
swelling of the lower legs in the last one-two years of Batten Disease,
usually due to inactivity and the body slowing down), and jugular vein
distention (noticed in the neck)
Diverticulitis –can see nausea with intermittent abdominal pain, constipation,
low-grade fever, and frequently a palpable mass
Electrolyte imbalance - with low minerals in the body can see nausea and
vomiting along with dysrhythmias, tremors, seizures, anorexia, malaise, and
Food poisoning – with certain toxins can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
Gastritis – nausea and vomiting is very common in this disease, especially
after eating spicy foods, aspirin, or caffeine. Vomiting of mucous or blood,
epigastric pain, belching fever, and malaise
Gastroenteritis (flu) – can produce nausea and vomiting (often of undigested
food) and also cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever, malaise,
hyperactive bowel sounds, pain and tenderness, and also may see dehydration
Increased intracranial pressure – (neurological condition where there is
increased pressure in the brain) projectile vomiting that is not preceded by
nausea is a sign, also a decreased level of consciousness, bradycardia,
hypertension, and respiratory changes in the pattern. Your child may also
have a headache, widened pulse pressure, impaired motor movement, visual
disturbances, and pupil changes
Infection – acute localized or systemic infection often causes nausea, also
fever, headache, fatigue, and malaise
Intestinal infection – nausea and vomiting (bile or stool) occurs frequently,
especially with high small bowel intestinal obstruction. Vomiting may be bile
or stool, abdominal pain is usually episodic and colicky, but can become more
severe and steady with strangulation of a loop of bowel. Constipation occurs
early in large intestinal and later in small intestinal obstruction; obstipation
(extreme and persistent constipation) may signal complete obstruction.
Bowel sounds are usually hyperactive and high-pitched in partial bowel
obstruction and hypoactive or absent in complete obstruction. Abdominal
distention and tenderness occur with visible peristaltic waves and a palpable
abdominal mass (stool)
Irritable bowel syndrome – you will see dyspepsia (heartburn or
uncomfortable feeling in the stomach area), abdominal distention and nausea
in this disease, lower abdominal pain, tenderness, diarrhea alternating with
constipation or normal bowel function, plus small stools with visible mucus
Metabolic acidosis - if the acid-base balance is distorted, there may be
nausea and vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, Kussmaul’s respirations, and
decreased level of consciousness, usually seen in diabetes
Migraine headache - nausea and vomiting may occur with photophobia
(sensitivity to light), light flashes, increased sensitivity to noise, partial
vision loss and paresthesias (numbness and tingling) of the lips, face, hands,
until the headache subsides
Peptic ulcer - nausea and vomiting may follow attacks of sharp or burning
epigastric pain. Attacks usually happen when the stomach is empty or after
ingestion of aspirin or caffeine, they are relieved by eating or Antacids, may
also see bloody emesis or stools
Peritonitis – (inflammation within the abdominal cavity) nausea and vomiting
usually accompany acute abdominal pain localized to the area of inflammation,
high fever with chills, tachycardia, hypoactive or absent bowel sounds,
abdominal distention and tenderness, weakness, pale, cold skin, diaphoresis,
hypotention, shallow respirations and hiccups
Renal disorders – (kidney) if there is an infection or kidney stone there
could be nausea
Ulcerative colitis – (inflammation in the intestines) nausea, vomiting and
anorexia may occur but the most common symptom is recurrent diarrhea
with bloody, pus, and mucus
If your child is experiencing severe nausea and vomiting, prepare him for blood
tests to check levels of electrolytes or possibly drug levels that may alter other
blood tests, have him breathe deeply to ease the nausea, keep the room smelling
fresh, keep his head elevated or position him on his side. Because pain can
precipitate or intensify nausea, administer pain medication if available. Nausea is
one of the most common childhood complaints and is caused most often by
overeating. In a newborn, pyloric obstruction may cause projectile vomiting,
whereas Hirschsprung’s disease may cause fecal vomiting. Intussusception
(prolapse of one segment of bowel into the lumen or opening of another segment of
bowel) may lead to vomiting of bile and fecal matter in an infant or toddler.
Because an infant may aspirate vomitus, as a result of his immature cough and gag
reflexes, position him on his side or abdomen and clear any vomitus immediately.
If your child has nausea and vomiting, tell them or give them small, frequent sips of
fluid, such as water or flat ginger ale. Advise him to not eat solid food until
vomiting subsides. After vomiting subsides for 4 hours, have him eat plain toast or
crackers; he can resume a regular diet after 24 hours. Also keep in mind that
certain medications may cause symptoms of nausea and vomiting as well:
 Analgesics – Aspirin, Motrin
 Anti-infectives – Sulfonamides, Penicillin’s
Antacids – Maalox, Milk of Magnesium
Narcotics – Codeine, Demerol, Morphine
Anti-emetics (examples – Reglan, Compazine, and Phenergan) which are given to help
control nausea and vomiting do so because the stimuli that causes vomiting can
originate in any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract; distention or irritation of
the stomach or duodenum provides the strongest stimulus. Impulses are
transmitted by both vagal and sympathetic afferents to the medulla oblongata’s
vomiting center in the brain, which lies in the chemoreceptor trigger zone. Motor
impulses that produce vomiting are then transmitted from the vomiting center in
the brain, through various cranial nerve branches to the upper gastrointestinal (GI)
tract. From there, these impulses are sent through the spinal nerves to the
diaphragm and abdominal muscles to trigger vomiting. Certain drugs like the
Phenothiazines (a group of drugs which exert significant influence on many organ
systems of the body at once), prevent vomiting by interrupting the afferent
pathways and preventing impulses from reaching the vomiting center.
Gastroenteritis – Diarrhea and Vomiting
Almost everyone has or will have what most of us refer to as stomach flu. The
medical technical term is called gastroenteritis, which means irritation of the
stomach and the intestines. It often goes away by itself in a couple of days (thus
the 24 hour flu), it sometimes lasts longer and having it is a miserable experience
for everyone concerned.
Symptoms include the following:
 Diarrhea – almost a sure thing. Many people feel that any stools “looser” or
softer than normal constitutes diarrhea. This is not the case. Our stools
vary in consistency depending on our diet. Diarrhea usually is defined as
watery or nearly so. “Watery” in this context means that the stool has no
“chunks” in it, and if your child is wearing diapers, the stool is usually running
out of the diaper. Also, in true diarrhea, your child is usually having many
(sometimes up to 1-2 per hour) bowel movements. The biggest danger with
frequent watery stools is losing so much fluid that dehydration occurs
especially in small children or toddlers/infants
 Vomiting – a forceful ejection of material from the stomach. It can be
caused by stimulation from something (infection or other irritants) in the
stomach, on its way to the stomach, or beyond the stomach in the intestines.
Besides being really miserable, vomiting makes gastroenteritis harder to
treat because a vomiting child cannot keep fluids down and thus becomes
dehydrated much faster
Fever – often but not always, accompanies gastroenteritis, especially the
viral and bacterial types since the body turns up its thermostat to help fight
infections. Your child may not be able to keep Tylenol down to help with the
Dehydration – you can go without food for awhile, but going without water or
liquids is much more serious. We lose water from our bodies by sweating,
water contained in the air we breathe, urine, and water in stool. In order to
make up for these loses, we need to drink fluids. We also produce urine
constantly not only to rid of excess water, but also the kidneys are the
chemical filters for the blood. How can you tell if your child is getting
dehydrated – dry mucous membranes in the mouth, sunken eyes, a drop in
urine output, weight loss over days or hours? Slow weight changes are
usually dietary, quick weight loss is usually because of dehydration.
Dry diapers, no tears when crying, coarse dry tongue and parched lips,
sunken eyes, weight loss, pinching the skin on the abdomen leaving the skin
standing up (poor skin turgor) are all signs of dehydration. If any of these
symptoms are noted, please call your Physician.
Causes of gastroenteritis –
 Viral – most common reason
 Bacterial – not as common in the US but are seen where sanitation is not as
good. They can also come from contaminated food (Salmonella – potato salad
or egg-based dishes, or E-Coli in undercooked meats) This one will need
treated with antibiotics, stool cultures will usually be done to help with
 Chemical cause of diarrhea is lactose intolerance. Many can just not digest
lactose (milk sugar) no matter what, unless they take supplementary enzymes
to help with digestion
 Fluids – wait from 1-2 hours after vomiting before starting liquids, (even
though your child says he is thirsty, his stomach is saying don’t put anything
in me). Please don’t appease your child because odds are that they will
continue to vomit and become further dehydrated, give what fluids your
child can tolerate, Pedialyte, Gatorade, unsweetened kool-aid, or very small
amount of plain water ( avoid large amounts of plain water – it is not
absorbed as well as water with sugar and minerals). Keep an eye on the urine
output to judge how hydrated your child is. (Please do not give milk or milk
 Diet – stool consistency depends largely on what kinds of food we eat – clear
liquids are most easily absorbed, also provide extra water, (clear soups - like
bouillon, tea – even with a little sugar because of the caffeine, heavily
Medicine – there is no real medicine to help with viral infection, if it is
bacterial – antibiotics may help, antidiarrheal medicines may be helpful as
When to call the Doctor –
 If your child has not urinated for 6 hours or more and you can not get him to
take or keep clear liquids down
 If your child is becoming lethargic or listless which means that your child is
breathing but basically not responding to your attempts to wake him up or is
not playing or active as usual
 If your child’s mouth looks dry, eyes sunken (these are late signs of
Your child may need intravenous (IV) fluids until the worst part of the virus
is gone
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that affects the
lower esophageal sphincter (LES) – the muscle connecting the esophagus with the
stomach. Many people suffer from heartburn or acid indigestion caused by
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Doctors believe that some people suffer
from gastroesophageal reflux disease hiatal hernia. In many cases, heartburn can
be relieved through diet and lifestyle changes; however, some people may require
medication and surgery.
Gastroesophageal refers to the stomach and esophagus. Reflux means to flow back
or return. Therefore, esophageal reflux is the return of the stomach’s contents
back up into the esophagus. In normal digestion, the lower esophageal sphincter
(LES) opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and closes to prevent food and
acidic stomach juices from flowing back into the esophagus. Reflux occurs when
the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weak or relaxes inappropriately allowing the
stomach’s contents to flow up into the esophagus. The severity of reflux depends
on the sphincter dysfunction as well as the type and amount of fluid brought up
from the stomach and the neutralizing effect of saliva. Factors that increase the
LES (lower esophageal sphincter) pressure include: protein, carbohydrate, nonfat
milk, low dose alcohol. Factors that decrease LES (lower esophageal sphincter)
pressure include: fat, whole milk, orange juice, tomatoes, antiflatulent
(simethicone), chocolate, high-dose alcohol, cigarette smoking, lying on right or left
side, sitting
Heartburn is a pain behind the breast bone, often described as “burning” in quality.
Pain can also be felt at the same level in the mid-line of the back. Most people
suffer from heartburn at one time or another. In fact, heartburn has nothing to do
with the heart - it is a digestive problem. Heartburn is generally related to meals
and posture and can be relieved by remedies for indigestion.
Pain from the heart is also felt in the chest and sometimes in the upper abdomen.
There are two kinds of heart pain. The first, angina, is a pain in the chest due to a
temporary shortage of oxygen being carried in the blood to the heart muscle.
Angina should be suspected if the chest pain is brought on by exercise and relieved
by rest. The second is the more severe and prolonged pain of a heart attack. A
heart attack should be suspected if the pain is felt intensely in the center of the
chest (possibly through to the back), spreading perhaps to one or both arms
(especially the left) and into the lower jaw; or feels like a heavy pressure or is
“vice-like”. Potentially dangerous confusion can arise when someone neglects his or
her heart pain believing it to be heartburn.
What causes heartburn? Acid is present in the stomach to digest food. Heartburn
occurs when small amounts of this acid rise above the esophagus – the tube which
carries food from the mouth to the stomach. This is called reflux. The esophagus,
unlike the stomach, does not have a protective lining. So, when it is exposed to the
acid, it can become inflamed and painful. At the bottom of the esophagus there is a
muscle, the LES lower esophageal sphincter, which by its contraction, acts as a
barrier to keep the acid in the stomach. If this does not work properly, reflux
occurs. The reason why this muscle fails to work properly is not fully understood.
Some known factors that can lead to heartburn include: eating large meals, being
overweight, bending a lot, wearing tight clothing around the waist, or smoking. In
most of these cases, it is the increased pressure, which overcomes the normal
muscle contraction and causes heartburn. Smoking, on the other hand, relaxes the
muscle around the esophagus, with the same result. Other factors that may
present with reflux are: hoarseness, chronic cough, asthma, laryngitis, recurrent
pneumonia, and ear, nose, and throat infections, nocturnal choking, sleep apnea, loss
of dental enamel, bad breath, and globus sensation. In small children or toddlers
you will see reflux to some degree. Most of them outgrow it by 6 months to 1 year
but some may take longer. Signs you would see in your child: frequent spitting up,
vomiting or milk stains around the baby’s mouth or in his bed after sleeping,
frequent swallowing between feedings, frequent hiccups, sneezing, coughing,
feeding problems such as crying, arching, refusing to eat, gasping, gagging, choking,
wheezing (high-pitched sound with breathing), trouble breathing, or poor weight
How is reflux diagnosed? Some tests may include: upper gastrointestinal system
(GI) and/or esophagram (barium swallow), the stomach is filled with barium and xrays taken to measure the frequency and severity of reflux; milk scan - similar to
the upper gastrointestinal series (GI), although this is done to measure how long it
takes the stomach to empty and evaluate reflux; pH probe monitoring – a small
flexible tube is passed through the nose into the esophagus. This tube measures
how often acid from the stomach comes up into the esophagus – it stays in place for
24 hours – if no reflux is seen, your Doctor will probably not do a fundoplication;
endoscopy – your child is given conscious sedation, then your Doctor uses a flexible
scope with a light to examine the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the
small intestine; or a bronchoscopy – again with conscious sedation, the Doctor uses a
scope with a light and examines and check for aspiration (stomach contents in the
lungs). This is usually done when the endoscopy is done.
If reflux is left untreated, other complications may occur:
 Increased or severe chest pain that can mimic a heart attack
 Esophageal structure (a narrowing or obstruction of the esophagus)
 Dysphagia – (difficulty in swallowing) a feeling that food is trapped behind
the breast bone
 Bleeding – vomiting blood or tarry, black bowel movement
 Choking – sensation of acid refluxed into the windpipe causing shortness of
breath, coughing, hoarseness of the voice
Treatment can include many things:
 Feeding – hold your baby or child in an upright position during eating,
burping your baby frequently, never leave your baby or child alone while
eating, do not over feed your child or going to bed within 2-3 hours of
eating, since gastric distention promotes reflux, it is better to feed smaller
amounts more often, avoid foods that may worsen symptoms (citrus, tomato,
caffeine which directly can irritate the mucosa while onions, garlic,
chocolate, peppermint and high fat lower the pressure). Avoid traveling for
at least ½ hour after feeding. You may also notice or your child may tell you
that certain foods seem to aggravate reflux, then please omit them from
his diet. Encourage your child to eat slowly and chew his food well before
Positioning – keep your baby upright for at least 2 hours after eating –
avoid the sitting position after eating because this puts pressure on the
stomach, so therefore do not feed your child and then lay them down for a
nap. Reflux symptoms may be reduced simply by elevating the head end of
the bed or using a wedge under the upper body or under the legs of the bed.
The esophageal acid gravity time is reduced by gravity
Clothing – avoid tight diapers or clothing around the waist – pressure on the
stomach can make symptoms of reflux worse
Medication – medicine may be prescribed to help decrease the production of
stomach acid or help the stomach empty more quickly. These drugs include:
H2 Antagonists (Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid, Axid), and proton pump inhibitors
(PPI) (Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex, Protonix or Nexium) for treatment of
acute disease. There are also prokinetic agents, which promote
gastrointestinal motility (Reglan, or Cisapride). Antacids may also be used –
Maalox, Mylanta, etc
What if medications do not help, is surgery possible to help the symptoms?
Yes, some people with reflux may need surgery because of severe reflux
and poor response to medical treatment. Fundoplication is a surgical
procedure that increases pressure in the lower esophagus. This topic will be
discussed a little later in this presentation. A young child with severe
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may require years and years
perhaps life long medical treatment. This entails alot of cost and while
these drugs appear to be safe, long-term effects are not known. So in
younger children with severe esophagitis and normal peristaltic function,
surgical option should be considered even when medical treatment may be
When Do I Call The Doctor?
 Poor, little, or no weight gain
 Choking
 Increased spitting up or vomiting
 Wheezing
 Gagging or trouble swallowing
 Blood in the vomit
 Continued eating problems
Over time, we have found it helpful to use medications to prevent reflux. There
are medications, which increase the contractions of the muscles of the stomach and
help it empty faster, and there are medications that lower the acidity by altering
the amount of acid that is secreted into the stomach. This last group is really very
helpful. With the decrease in acidity, a little bit of reflux does not cause the
irritation to the lower end of the esophagus that a lot of acid can, and so it seems
to eliminate some of the real discomfort that goes with reflux. Symptoms of
reflux that you can see may include: retching, gagging, hyperextension of the head
and body, increased congestion during the feedings, intermittent low grade fever
which occurs as a pattern, increased arching, and aspiration and pneumonia. Reflux
can vary from day to day and may increase as the degenerative process continues.
Surgery may have to be considered, but only after positioning and medication
choices have been exhausted.
Many children with Batten Disease have moderate to severe problems with reflux
and require treatment of some form. Many times medication can control reflux, but
also some children with Batten Disease have required surgery and fundoplication
has been done.
Gas Formation
There may be gas formation in the stomach. You may hear increased belching after
a meal, when you open the gastrostomy (GT) tube you may hear the air escape, or
you may find that you need to “burp” after a feeding. Sometimes, it may be helpful
to just leave the tube open with a syringe attached for a short period after the
feeding (keep it elevated so that the contents of the stomach do not flow out). If
you are using a “button” (type of gastrostomy tube),there is a special vent tube
that you will need which holds the little valve open so that air can escape and you
can aspirate (pull back gently with a syringe). Aspiration and venting may be done
routinely in the beginning after a gastrostomy tube has been inserted, but usually
become less and less necessary as you develop a “feel”. Should your child
experience bloating prior to or following any feeding, your child’s stomach and
intestinal tract should be decompressed. Decompression is easily accomplished by
removing the feeding adapter cap (from the tube) and allowing the tube to be open
to air, encouraging your child to cough will expedite the removal of excessive air.
Gas is a common problem with children who have Batten Disease.
Hiatal Hernia
The hiatal hernia is one of the most misunderstood and maligned conditions in
medicine. People blame this hernia for much more than it ever does. People need to
know what it is and what might occur with it. Most importantly, they need to know
it is unusual for serious problems to develop from this type of hernia.
Anatomy – the diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that separates the lungs from the
abdomen. When your child takes a deep breath, the dome-shaped diaphragm
contracts and flattens. In doing this, the diaphragm pulls air into the lungs. The
left diaphragm contains a small hole through which passes the tube-shaped
esophagus that carries food and liquid to the stomach. Normally this hole, called a
hiatus, is small and fits snugly around the esophagus. The j-shaped stomach sits
below the diaphragm.
What causes a hiatal hernia? – the hiatus or hole in the diaphragm weakens and
enlarges; it is not known why this occurs. It may be due to heredity, obesity,
exercises such as weightlifting, or straining at stool. Whatever the cause, a
portion of the stomach herniates, or moves up, into the chest cavity through this
enlarged hole. A hiatal hernia is now present.
The different types of hiatal hernias. In most children, hiatal hernias cause no
 Sliding Hiatal hernia – the most common – the herniated portion of the
stomach slides back and forth, into and out of the chest. These hernias are
normally small and usually cause no problems or even symptoms. If symptoms
occur, you may only see regurgitation and heartburn
 Rolling or paraesophageal hiatal hernia – the upper part of the stomach is
caught up into the chest. Even with this hernia, there may be few symptoms.
However, the potential for problems in the esophagus is increased. You may
also see chronic reflux of acid into the esophagus, which may cause injury
and bleeding. Anemia or low red blood cell count can result. Further,
chronic inflammation of the lower esophagus may produce scarring and
narrowing in this area. This in turn makes swallowing difficult, and food does
not pass easily into the stomach
 Complicated or serious hiatal hernia – this type of hernia is uncommon – it
includes a variety of patterns of herniation of the stomach, including cases
in which the entire stomach moves up in the chest. There is a high likelihood
that medical problems will occur with this hernia and that treatment,
frequently involving surgery, will be required – very uncommon
Do hiatal hernias cause pain and indigestion? It is wrong to always blame a hiatal
hernia for pain and indigestion. They usually do not cause acute pain. Pain may
result from other disorders, such as peptic ulcers or even heart disease. Some
people with coronary heart disease fool themselves into believing their discomfort
is due to a hiatal hernia. If this occurs, you should seek medical advice.
Diagnosis – is made through an upper gastrointestinal (GI) barium x-ray. Also, an
endoscopy may be done to visualize the stomach and esophagus while your child is
lightly sedated.
This picture is of a normal stomach and then the presence of a sliding hiatal
hernia and a rolling hiatal hernia (paraesophageal) where the hernia is a sac
(part of the stomach) above the diaphragm
Complications of a hiatal hernia are:
 Chronic heartburn and inflammation of the lower esophagus, called reflux
 Anemia due to chronic bleeding from the lower esophagus
 Scarring and narrowing of the lower esophagus causing difficulty in
While sleeping, stomach secretions can seep up the esophagus and into the
lungs, causing chronic cough, wheezing, and even pneumonia
Treatment and medications/surgery are the same as with gastroesophageal reflux
disease (GERD).
A fundoplication (Nissen) is one of the most common surgical procedures used to
treat severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Gastroesophageal reflux
disease (GERD) is the backup of stomach contents into the esophagus (the tube
between the mouth and the stomach). A fundoplication is performed by wrapping
part of the upper stomach around the lower part of the esophagus to create a
nipple valve that stops the reflux. This is a decision that you as parents will have to
make for your child. A small number of children do not get complete relief of the
symptoms. Secondly, the continued used of medications; usually the proton pump
inhibitors (PPI) will still need to be used along with possible side effects. After the
surgery new symptoms such as gas, bloating and dysphagia, which probably result
from a hyper-competent lower esophageal sphincter (LES) produced by the
fundoplication, are common. The surgery usually lasts from 1-2 hours.
What can I expect after surgery?
Your child may have a nasogastric (NG) tube passed through the nose into the
stomach while asleep under anesthesia. The tube will be connected to gentle
suction to keep the stomach empty, decrease nausea and vomiting, and to promote
healing. Your Doctor will decide when the tube can be removed, usually when your
child is passing gas or has a bowel movement. Instead of the nasogastric (NG) tube,
your child may have a gastrostomy tube, a tube through the abdomen directly into
the stomach, which comes out to the surface of the abdomen or a jejunostomy tube
which goes directly into the small intestine and comes out to the surface of the
abdomen. After the nasogastric (NG) tube is removed and/or the gastrostomy
tube (GT) or jejunostomy tube (JT) is clamped, your child can begin to drink clear
liquids, progressing to eating regular foods as tolerated. The incision will be
covered with a small dressing, either of gauze or clear plastic saran like, or steristrips (little pieces of tape). The stitches inside will dissolve on their own. Your
child will have an intravenous (IV) line, a plastic tube that goes into the vein, to give
fluids and medications. An intravenous line (IV) is needed until your child is
drinking well to prevent dehydration.
Other things to expect include:
 May not be able to burp
 May gag but not be able to vomit
Picture Of A Nissen Fundoplication
Needs to eat more slowly
May feel full earlier (your child may eat smaller amounts at one time)
Bloating (stomach fills with gas and becomes big and round)
What will be done for pain? Every effort will be made to keep your child as
comfortable as possible. Your Doctor will prescribe medicine to relieve pain, usually
by the IV route until he is eating. If you feel your child continues to have pain, do
not hesitate to request more medications. If your child can still communicate with
you, ask him if he is having pain. If he can not answer you, you know him better
than anyone and then go by his usual methods to tell you he is uncomfortable.
How should I care for my child at home? Your child may have a tub bath. Do not
soak the incision. The plastic dressing should be removed in a week. Steristrips
will fall off on their own. Encourage quiet play. No active play or swimming until
seen by the Doctor.
should I call the surgeon?
Increasing swelling, redness, or pain at the incision or the area around it.
Drainage from the incision
Signs of reflux return
Temperature higher than 100.5 degrees by mouth or 101.5 degrees rectally
Stomatitis, Gastritis, and Dyspepsia
Stomatitis is any inflammatory condition of the mouth. It may result from
infection by bacteria, viruses, or fungi; from exposure to certain chemicals or
drugs; from vitamin deficiency; or from a systemic inflammatory disease.
 Thrush – a yeast infection; will see white patches on the tongue; this
inflammation should be treated with good oral hygiene, a nonirritating diet,
topical anesthetic rinses to relieve pain, and antibiotic or antifungal drugs
Gingivitis - inflammation of the gingiva; will see inflammation with painless
swelling, redness, change of normal contours, bleeding, and periodontal
pocket - gum detachment from the teeth; treatment includes removal of
irritating factors, good oral hygiene, regular dental check-ups, vigorous
Peridonititis - progression of gingivitis and inflammation of the oral mucosa,
a major cause is poor oral hygiene, will see acute onset of bright red gum
inflammation, painless swelling, easy bleeding, loosening of teeth typically
without inflammatory symptoms progressing to loss of teeth and possibly
bone, and possibly acute systemic infection including fever and chills,
treatment includes infection control, possibly periodontal surgery to
prevent recurrence, and good oral hygiene, regular dental checkups and
vigorous chewing
Vincent’s angina – (trench mouth) necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis –
infection, other predisposing factors include: stress, poor oral hygiene,
insufficient rest, nutritional deficiency, smoking; will see sudden onset,
painful superficial bleeding gingival ulcers covered with a gray-white
membrane, ulcers become punched out lesions after slight pressure or
irritation, malaise, mild fever, excessive salivation, bad breath, pain on
swallowing or talking, enlarged lymph nodes; treat by removal bad tissue,
antibiotic therapy, analgesics as needed for pain, hourly mouth rinses with
equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and warm water, soft nonirritating diet,
rest, no smoking, with treatment, improvement common within 24 hours
Glossitis – inflammation of the tongue, a streptococcal infection, irritation
or injury, jagged teeth, ill-fitting dentures, biting during seizures, spicy
foods, smoking, sensitivity to toothpaste or mouthwash, Vitamin B
deficiency, or certain skin conditions; will see reddened ulcerated or swollen
tongue – may obstruct airway, painful chewing and swallowing, speech
difficulty, painful tongue without inflammation; treatment of underlying
cause, topical anesthetic mouthwash or systemic analgesics (Aspirin and
Tylenol) for painful ulcers, good oral hygiene, regular check-ups, vigorous
chewing, avoidance of hot, cold or spicy foods and alcohol
Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis is usually one of two
main types: fundal gland gastritis which is in the main body of the stomach including
a reddened and swollen lining of the stomach with small hemorrhages and erosions
to inflammation of all of the stomach layers, and the second types is the pyloric
gland gastritis which is in the lower portion of the stomach that connects to the
duodenum. Acute gastritis may be caused by the ingestion of aspirin or other
medications or by the presence of viral, bacterial or chemical toxins, in which
antacids may be helpful. The symptoms including anorexia, nausea, vomiting, feeling
of fullness, belching, and vague discomfort after eating in the epigastric area of
the stomach, usually abates after the causative agent is removed. Chronic gastritis
is usually a sign of underlying disease, as a peptic ulcer, which often progresses to
acute gastritis. During acute attacks, conservative treatment calls for dietary
modifications, rest, drug therapy (Antacids, Tagamet, etc.) and parenteral
nutrition. Complications, such as hemorrhage and peritonitis, may require surgery.
Dyspepsia is defined as a vague feeling of gastric discomfort felt after eating.
There is an uncomfortable feeling of fullness, heartburn, bloating and nausea.
Dyspepsia is not a distinct condition, but it may be a sign of underlying intestinal
disorder as a peptic ulcer, gallbladder disease or chronic appendicitis. Treatment
may include antacids or as prescribed by your Doctor.
Many children with Batten Disease have one or all of these three problems at some
time during the course of Batten Disease – just treat the symptoms as they occur
from one day to the next.
Ulcers – Peptic (Gastric) and Duodenal
A peptic ulcer is an ulcerative lesion of the upper gastrointestinal mucosal
membrane. Studies indicate that the two major forms of peptic ulcer, gastric and
duodenal, occur when the gastrointestinal tract’s protective mucosa is unable to
resist corrosion by acid-pepsin during digestion. Damaged duodenal or gastric
mucosa permits further erosion of each layer of the abdominal wall, possibly
causing bleeding and/or perforation. Although different factors may cause them,
gastric and duodenal ulcers have essentially the same pathophysiology. An ulcer is a
focal area of the stomach (gastric) or duodenum that has been destroyed by
digestive juices and stomach acid. It is an erosion of the lining of the intestinal
tract usually in the stomach caused by contact with strong gastric secretions
(pepsin or hydrochloric acid).
 Gastric - it results from the destruction of the protective mechanisms that
shield the lining of the gastrointestinal system (GI) tract, consequently this
lining shows decreased resistance to gastric secretions, particularly pepsin.
Gastric ulcers have decreased mucosal resistance to normal or subnormal
acid production, in the presence of conditions such as gastritis, or irritants
such as aspirin, steroids, alcohol or caffeine, allows back-diffusion of
gastric acids from the lumen to the mucosa. This leads to erosion where
histamines are released, to further stimulation and increased swelling of
the stomach wall, the erosion continues to finally breaking through the
abdominal wall where perforation and/or peritonitis can occur
Duodenal ulcer, the lesions usually occur near the pylorus of the stomach.
The stomach secretes excess hydrochloric acid and also empties food more
rapidly than normal; only part of the acid load is used on food. Acid
hypersecretion may result from an overactive vagus nerve where the same
results will eventually happen as in gastric ulcers. This reduces the food’s
buffering effect and dumps the excess acid in the duodenum, where it
erodes the gastrointestinal (GI) tract lining. Most ulcers are no larger than
a pencil eraser, but they can cause tremendous discomfort and pain.
Children with Batten Disease are very prone to ulcers due to the
medications they have to take, especially the anticonvulsant group. Usually
a medication like Zantac or Tagamet will ease the symptoms, so ask your
Physician if your child shows symptoms of ulcer disease.
The most common symptom of an ulcer is a gnawing or burning pain in the abdomen
located between the naval and the bottom of the breastbone. The pain often
occurs between meals and sometimes awakens you from sleep. Pain may last minutes
to hours and is often relieved by eating and taking antacids. Less common
symptoms of an ulcer include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and weight loss.
Acute peptic ulcers are almost always multiple and superficial. They may be totally
asymptomatic and usually heal without scarring. Chronic ulcers are single, deep
craters and can be treated with Prevacid, Aciphex, Protonix or Nexium. Scientists
now believe that many persons have a genetic predisposition and also then
development the infection of H.pylori (bacteria). If the ulcer perforates you may
see: a history of previous cyclic pain that occurred when the stomach was empty,
melena (black, tarry stools), bloody emesis (vomit), signs of shock (profuse
sweating, pallor, palpitations, confusion, increased pulse and respirations,
decreased blood pressure, a rigid and board-like abdomen with rebound tenderness
and absent bowel sounds.
Others who develop ulcers are sometimes regular users of pain medications called
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which include common products
like Aspirin and Ibuprofen (Motrin). An ulcer is caused by the constant irritation
of the stomach by using NSAIDS. NSAID-induced gastrointestinal side effects
can best be avoided by using alternative therapy whenever possible. Low dose
Corticosteroids or supportive drugs such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol) are
alternatives to consider. Four grams (two 500 mg tablets four times a day) has
been shown to be comparable to analgesic and antiinflammatory doses of Ibuprofen
(Motrin) for osteoarthritis pain and is not associated with an increased risk of
gastrointestinal side effects, or you could use Antacids or a prescription product
for decreasing acid, etc.
Picture of the Ulcers in the Stomach
Complications of ulcers include:
 Bleeding – bleeding can occur from an ulcer in the stomach (gastric) or the
duodenum and is sometimes the only sign of an ulcer. Bleeding from an ulcer
can be slow, causing anemia and fatigue. More rapid bleeding can cause
bowel movements to become sticky and tarry black or even bloody. Bleeding
ulcers may cause nausea and vomiting of acidified blood that looks like “old
coffee grounds”, rapid shallow breathing, chills, sweating, dizziness upon
standing, and restlessness. (Remember iron products given on a regular basis
can also produce dark black stools)
 Perforation – when ulcers are left untreated, digestive juices and stomach
acid can literally eat a hole in the intestinal lining. Bacteria, food, and
digestive juices can spill into the abdominal cavity causing sudden, intense
pain that requires hospitalization, and often surgery. You may see rapid
shallow breathing, facial flushing, fever, dizziness, sweating, abdominal
Obstruction – chronic inflammation from an ulcer can cause swelling and
scarring to occur. Over time, scarring may close the outlet of the stomach,
preventing food to pass and causing vomiting and weight loss. You may have
a foul taste in your mouth and a coated tongue, abdominal fullness or
distention worsening after meals and at night, nausea and vomiting of foul
smelling gastric contents, anorexia, or weight loss
These are the complications, but if effective compliance to medications and
avoidance of foods that aggravate the symptoms, along with the decrease or
stoppage of tobacco or alcohol use, are adhered to, the severity of the ulcer can be
controlled and maintained.
Ulcers are diagnosed by one of two different methods – either an Upper
gastrointestinal (GI) Series or a procedure called an Endoscopy or EGD (most
widely used today). The Doctor will have you try 2 weeks of treatment with an
acid-blocking medicine (Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid, or Axid). If the discomfort or
pain continues, then one of the other tests will be ordered. An upper
gastrointestinal (GI) series is an x-ray test where you are given a chalky material
(barium) to drink while x-rays are taken to outline the anatomy of the digestive
tract. The endoscopy is a test, which involves the insertion of a small-lighted
flexible tube through the mouth into the stomach to examine for abnormalities.
The test is usually performed using medications to sedate you (conscious sedation).
During the test biopsies of tissue can be taken for examination. A biopsy will not
cause any pain or discomfort and is usually only the size of a match head.
Ulcers are treated first of all to avoid the foods, which are usually the culprits
that worsen the symptoms not as in the past where they had you avoid foods like
spicy, fatty or acidic foods. Ulcer patients who smoke should stop. It has been
shown that those who continue to smoke are linked to ulcer recurrence. And in
general, ulcer patients should not take NSAIDS.
If surgery is required, several things may be done. If there is an ulcer that needs
to be extracted, it is called a gastrectomy, usually partial, with or without a
vagotomy, excising the part of the stomach that is necessary thereby removing the
hormonal stimulus of the parietal cells, followed by anastomosis or reattachment of
the rest of the stomach to the duodenum or jejunum. Sometimes a vagotomy and
pyloroplasty is necessary where the Doctor severs one or more branches of the
vagus nerve to reduce hydrochloric acid secretion, and refashioning the pylorus to
create a larger lumen and facilitate gastric emptying.
Gastrointestinal Bleeding – GI Bleeding
Hyperactive bowel sounds provide the most immediate indication of persistent
bleeding. Associated signs and symptoms may include abdominal distention, bloody
diarrhea, rectal passage of bright red blood clots and jellylike material (bloody
stools are also called melena stools), and pain during bleeding, decreased urinary
output, tachycardia, and hypotension, accompanies blood loss. Hemorrhage from a
peptic ulcer may be accompanied by a very severe headache, which disappears with
supportive therapy or cessation of bleeding. Vomiting of grossly bloody,
bloodstained or coffee-ground material are symptoms.
 Airway - if very active bleeding is occurring you will want to make so there
is open airway – vomitus and blood commonly cause airway blockage with
gastrointestinal emergencies ( also there is a possibility of aspiration of
vomitus, suctioning or inserting an nasogastric tube (NG) may be necessary)
 Breathing – make so you check their breathing, oxygen may be needed.
Severe abdominal pain may cause breathing problems more so in males due
to the fact that males use their abdominal muscles when they breathe. If
they are vomiting, their respirations may be slower and deeper to
compensate for loss in electrolytes. Or if abdominal distention –
respirations may be affected to do the diaphragm being involved
 Circulation – may need to watch for signs of shock due to blood loss from an
ulcer. Signs to watch for include: rapid thready pulse, cool clammy skin,
restlessness, confusion, or further decrease in blood pressure
Treatment requires immediate attention especially if the vomiting of blood or the
passage of blood rectally is almost a continuous issue. Measures need to be taken
to halt the bleeding and to replace the lost blood and fluids. Small, frequent, bland
feedings are provided to prevent hunger contractions. Medication is given if
indication of extreme restlessness or pain is present.
The other time to call your Doctor is if you see “coffee ground” material or a large
amount of blood in anything you would gently pull back from a gastrostomy (GT)
/Jejunostomy (JT) tube).This might be only irritation from the tube, but you need
to let your Doctor know.
Inactive Bowel, Hypoactive or Hyperactive Bowel Sounds
Inactive bowel syndrome is the hypotonicity (of a lesser tone) of the bowel
resulting in decreased contractions and propulsive movements and a delay in normal
12-hour transit time from the bowel contents of the cecum to the rectum. Colonic
inactivity (bowel inactivity) may be caused by acquired or congenital colon, drugs,
depression, faulty habits of elimination, inadequate fluid intake, lack of exercise, a
low-residue or starvation diet, prolonged bedrest, or a neurologic disease.
Treatment includes a stimulus response training program to establish regular bowel
habits, the use of stool softeners, diet or medication to increase bulk and roughage
in the diet.
Hypoactive bowel sounds, detected by using a stethoscope, are diminished in
regularity, tone, or loudness from normal. They result from decreased peristalsis,
which can result in a developing bowel obstruction (especially if other signs of bowel
problems are presenting themselves – refer to the section on bowel obstruction), or
from certain drugs and abdominal surgery. Hypoactive bowel sounds are normal
during sleep. In children, it may simply be due to bowel distention from excessive
swallowing of air while eating or crying. However, be sure to observe your child for
further signs of illness.
Hyperactive bowel sounds can a lot of times be heard without the use of a
stethoscope. It is sometimes referred to as the stomach”growling” or “gurgling”.
It reflects increased intestinal motility (peristalsis). Hyperactive bowel sounds can
stem also from bowel obstruction, gastrointestinal (GI) irritable bowel syndrome
(IBS), food allergies, or stress. Hyperactive bowel sounds in children usually
results from gastroenteritis, erratic eating habits, excessive ingestion of certain
foods (such as unripened fruit), or food allergy.
Gallbladder Disease
The gallbladder is a pouch that sits beside the liver and stores bile, a green-yellow
fluid, produced by the liver. After eating, the gallbladder releases bile into the
small intestine where it helps to digest fats. Gallstones are solid clumps of
cholesterol crystals or pigment material that form in the gallbladder. Some fatty
components (such as cholesterol) are not easily dissolved in bile. When there is too
much of these bile components, they precipitate and form solid crystals. These
clump together forming gallstones – also known as cholelithiasis. Gallstones are not
all the same. There are many different types of gallstones, depending on what
component of the bile has solidified. Also, the stones may vary in size ranging from
tiny, sand-like particles less than one millimeter in diameter to pea-like particles
more than four centimeters in diameter. Almost 90 percent of gallstones are
composed of cholesterol. The remainder consists of pigment material (bilirubin).
The reason for the formation of pigment stones is not fully understood. The risk
of gallstones increase with age and obesity.
Symptoms that are associated with gallstones are:
 Severe abdominal pain to the right side of the abdomen
 Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
 Inflammation of the gallbladder, bile ducts, liver, or pancreas
 No symptoms called silent gallstones with no associated pain
Gas and indigestion are not specific symptoms of gallstones or gallbladder
Gallstones are diagnosed by ultrasound, x-rays, or detected incidentally during the
investigation of another problem.
Treatment of gallstones – silent gallstones require no treatment. Several gallstone
therapies are available with symptomatic gallstones.
 “Open “ cholecystectomy is the classic surgical procedure, requiring an
abdominal incision. The patient remains in the hospital 3-5 days
 “Laparoscopic” cholecystectomy is a newer surgical procedure whereby the
gallbladder is removed through small abdominal incisions (usually four of
five) using a lighted tube (called a laparoscope). The entire procedure is
viewed on a television monitor. Because there is no cutting of the muscle,
recovery time is much shorter. Hospital stay is 1-2 days
 Oral dissolution of gallstones by means of medication (ursodeoxycholic acid
generic name is Ursodiol) involves no surgery and is therefore suitable in
patients for whom surgery may be risky. The rate of success is 40-80 % and
treatment usually requires 6-12 months. Recurrence is common. The best
candidates are those with very small cholesterol stones and those who have
mild symptoms
 Extracorporeal biliary lithotripsy is a procedure in which Doctors find the
gallstones using ultrasound machines and position the patient so that highenergy shock waves focus on the stones. The waves break the gallstones
into fragments, which either pass into the intestine or are dissolved with
the help of medication. This procedure is done in an outpatient setting;
however, very few centers have this technique available
This issue of gallbladder problems is discussed only because your children if in their
late teens to early twenties have been known to have gallbladder pain more so if
evident in family history.
Inguinal Hernia
A hernia occurs when part or all of a viscous (sticky substance of the tissue)
protrudes from a normal location in the body.
 Inguinal hernias are most common, which is a protrusion of the abdominal
wall in the groin area. Inquinal hernias can be reduced, but if they can not
be and become incarcerated (if the hernia can not be reduced) or
strangulated (where part of the herniated intestine becomes twisted or
edematous, seriously interfering with normal blood flow and peristalsis and
possibly leading to intestinal obstruction and necrosis) then surgery may
become necessary. The cause of an inquinal hernia in males is usually that
These are the Common Sites for Abdominal Hernias
 Umbilical hernia - results from abnormal muscular structures around the
umbilical cord. It is quite common in newborns – but usually close
Incisional hernia - (ventral hernia) – develops at the site of a previous
surgery usually due to a weakness in the abdominal wall as a result of an
infection or impaired wound healing, inadequate nutrition or abdominal
Femoral hernia – occurs when the femoral artery passes into the femoral
canal where it enlarges and eventually creates a hole big enough to
accommodate part of the peritoneum and bladder. It will appear as a bulge
at the pulse point of the femoral artery. It also often becomes
incarcerated or strangulated to where surgery is necessary
Treatment – the Doctor will reduce the hernia if possible. If the hernia is
presenting any serious complication of incarcerated or strangulation, surgery to
repair the hernia will be required. This problem of inguinal hernias is seen more in
boys – usually in their early to late teenage years.
Peritonitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane
that lines the abdominal cavity and covers the visceral organs. Inflammation may
extend throughout the peritoneum or may be localized as an abscess. The
peritoneum commonly decreases intestinal motility and causes intestinal distention
with gas. The causes of peritonitis – although the gastrointestinal (GI) contains
bacteria, the peritoneum is sterile and with an inflammation, bacteria invade the
peritoneum – usually a result of appendicitis, diverticulitis, peptic ulcer, ulcerative
colitis, obstruction, or pancreatitis.
Signs and symptoms include: the key symptom is sudden, severe, and diffuse
abdominal pain that tends to intensify and localize in the area of the underlying
disorder, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, altered bowel habits (particularly
constipation). For example, if appendicitis causes a rupture, pain eventually
localizes in the lower right quadrant – displaying weakness, pallor, excessive
sweating, and cold skin as a result of excessive loss of fluid, electrolytes and
protein into the abdominal cavity. Intestinal obstruction causes nausea, vomiting
and abdominal rigidity. Typical other features are hypotension (low blood
pressure), tachycardia (fast heart rate), signs of dehydration (oliguria - decreased
urine output), thirst, dry, swollen tongue, acutely tender abdomen associated with
rebound tenderness, temperature of 103 degrees or higher and hypokalemia (low
potassium blood level). Inflammation of the peritoneum may cause shoulder pain,
hiccups, abdominal distention, which can reduce respiratory capacity due to the
diaphragm pushing upward with the distention. Typically, your child may tend to
breathe shallower and move as little as possible to minimize pain due to
diaphragmatic irritation. Diagnosis is by abdominal x-rays, which show the edema
and gas distention of the small and large bowel and free air will be seen in the
abdominal cavity, blood studies will also support the diagnosis with an elevated
white cell count.
Treatment – early treatment of gastrointestinal (GI) inflammatory conditions and
pre and post-operative antibiotic therapy help prevent peritonitis. After
peritonitis develops, emergency treatment must combat infection, restore
intestinal motility and replace fluids and electrolytes. When peritonitis results
from perforation (a rupture), surgery is necessary. The aim of surgery is to
eliminate the source of infection by evacuating the spilled contents and repairing
any organ perforation. Your Doctor will be doing blood work to evaluate closely the
white blood cell count which would be indicative of an infection.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas in where the enzymes normally
excreted by the pancreas digest pancreatic tissue (auto digestion). It can be mild
to severe. The most common causes are biliary tract disease and peptic ulcer
Signs and symptoms is steady epigastric pain centered close to the umbilicus. The
pain usually begins as a gradually increasing mid-epigastric pain reaching its
maximum intensity several hours after the beginning of the illness. Nausea and
vomiting generally accompany the abdominal pain – if more severe, it will cause
extreme pain, persistent vomiting, abdominal rigidity, diminished bowel activity
(suggesting peritonitis).
Diagnosis is with clinical presentation along with lab tests (some tests will be or can
be extremely elevated – amylase and glucose levels because insulin is produced in
the pancreas) and x-rays (including abdominal, chest and a computerized
tomography scan (CT).
The treatment goal is to maintain circulation and fluid volume, relief of pain and
decrease pancreatic secretions, and keeping an eye on the blood tests.
Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection is usually an infection of the bladder, but could also be
caused from an infection in the kidney itself. Lower urinary tract infection is a
prevalent bacterial disease in children. Most infections are caused by single gramnegative enteric bacteria, such as E.coli, Klebsiella, Proteus, Enterobacter,
Pseudomonas or Serratia. However, in a neurogenic bladder, an indwelling urinary
catheter (foley), or a fistula (a track) between the bladder and the intestine, lower
urinary tract infection may result from simultaneous infections with multiple
pathogens (bacteria).
and Symptoms of urinary tract infection include:
Cramps or spasms of the bladder
A feeling of warmth during urination
Urethral discharge
Yeast infection – seen primarily in girls with Batten Disease because of
treatment of infections (whatever kind) with antibiotics
common features include:
Low back pain
Abdominal pain or tenderness over the bladder area
Flank pain
Diagnosis – a urinalysis, culture and sensitivity will show the exact organism so it
can be treated appropriately with the antimicrobial agent, or a voiding x-ray may
detect congenital anomalies that predispose the patient to recurrent urinary tract
infections. Also to watch for the WBC’s (white blood cells) for signs of infection
along with the clinical picture of fever, etc.
Evaluating urine color
 Colorless or straw-colored (diluted urine) – excessive fluid intake, kidney
diseases, or possibly nervous conditions
 Dark yellow or amber (concentrated urine) – low fluid intake, acute fever
issues, vomiting or diarrhea
 Cloudy urine – infection, purulence, blood, fat, vegetarian diet or parasitic
 Yellow to amber urine with pink sediment – gout (excess of uric acid in urine)
Orange-red to orange-brown urine – some drugs to treat kidney problems
such as Pyridium, or obstructive jaundice (tea-colored urine)
Red or red-brown urine – red blood cells or some drugs
Green-brown urine – bile duct obstruction
Dark brown or black urine – acute kidney disease or typhoid fever
Smoky - prostate problems, fat droplets or blood
Treatment – appropriate antimicrobials are the treatment of choice for most
urinary tract infection. A 7-10 day course of antibiotic therapy is standard, but
recent study suggests that a single dose of an antibiotic or a 3-5 day antibiotic
regimen may be sufficient to render the urine sterile. After 3 days of antibiotic
therapy, urine culture should show no organisms – if it shows bacteria, then a
different antibiotic needs to be ordered, because the resistance to the current
treatment is not appropriate.
Special considerations – watch for gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances from
antimicrobial therapy, and collect all urine samples for culture and sensitivity
testing carefully and promptly. Urinary tract infections are frequently seen in
children with Batten Disease and need to be on antibiotics a lot during the last few
years of the illness.
Also to check for a full bladder (to see if your child needs to go to the bathroom or
possibly is not emptying his bladder) have him lie on his back. Take your fingers (24 fingers wide) and just below the umbilicus, you can feel the bladder being hard if
it is full (bladder distention). If the hardness you fill is the pubic bone then you
will feel that hardness down much further where the pelvis comes together at the
pubic bones.
Constipation is usually defined as having infrequent bowel movements that are hard
and painful. Infants that strain or groan when they have a bowel movement are not
constipated if their stool is soft, even if they only have a bowel movement every
two or three days. It is also important to remember that many breastfed infants
only have a bowel movement once every week or two. Constipation means that a
child has three bowel movements or fewer in a week. Some people think they
should have a bowel movement every day. That is not really true. There is no
“right” number of bowel movements per day. Each person’s body finds its own
normal number of stools. Constipation is a symptom not a disease, and may be
caused by many different disorders. Children with Batten Disease have a huge
problem with constipation – the two biggest reasons are side effects of medications
and the inactivity of motor skills as the disease progresses.
Constipation is a common problem for infants and children. Warning signs that may
indicate a more serious condition causing your child to be constipated include
vomiting, weight loss, poor weight gain, fever, abdominal distention or having a poor
appetite. Constipation may be difficult to treat but having painful bowel
movements is not something that your child has to “learn to live with” – proper diet
and medical intervention should help your child have regular bowel movements. You
may need to be referred to a specialist if your child has any warning signs of a more
serious condition or if he is not improving with your current therapies.
Normal Physiology – the colon receives approximately 1.5 liters of fluid each day
but the normal fluid volume of stool is about 100 ml (which is approximately 3 ½
ounces). The ascending and transverse colon serves as a site for storage and fluid
and electrolyte absorption. The descending and sigmoid colon functions as a conduit
(holding area). Feces (stool) empty rapidly from the cecum and ascending colon and
are retained for several hours in the transverse colon. The descending colon
propels material into the rectum, which is stored prior to defecation. Following the
ingestion of a meal, and after awakening, high amplitude contractions propagate
from the proximal to distal sigmoid colon, pushing the stool mass into the rectum.
Normal transit time from the cecum to the rectum occurs over 24-100 hours in
adults. Normal defecation is controlled by the pelvic complex, a funnel consisting
of two overlapping sphincters surrounding the rectum; an internal sphincter
composed of involuntary smooth muscle and an external sphincter composed of
voluntary skeletal muscle that maintains continence. When the rectum is empty,
the internal sphincter muscle is contracted tonically and the external sphincter is
relaxed. When stool is propelled into the rectum, stretch receptors in the walls
are stimulated. These receptors are active nerve cells in the intramural plexus. In
turn, inhibitory interneurons decrease the activity of the muscles of the internal
rectal sphincter, causing it to relax. Following internal sphincter relaxation, stool
contacts (the very sensitive lining of the external rectal canal) leads to the urge to
defecate. If convenient, toileting proceeds by assuming a squatting position (if
constipation is a real problem, you may elevate your feet on a footstool in front of
the toilet or bend forward so that your abdomen rests against your thighs), which
straightens the rectal canal, and then a Valsalva maneuver is performed which
increases intra-abdominal pressure, and defecation proceeds, evacuating the
rectum. Alternatively, the external rectal sphincter and gluteal muscles can be
contracted voluntarily; the urge to defecate subsides until the rectum again
becomes distended.
Causes of Constipation in Children
 Developmental – cognitive handicaps, attention deficit disorder
Situational – coercive toilet training, toilet phobia, school bathroom
avoidance, excessive parental interventions
 Depression
 Neuropathic conditions – spina bifida, spinal cord trauma, encephalopathy
 Intestinal nerve or muscle disease – Hirschsprung disease, myopathies,
 Constitutional – colonic inertia, genetic predisposition
 Reduced stool volume and dryness – low fiber
 Dehydration – underfeeding/malnutrition
 Anatomic malformations – imperforate rectum, anal stenosis, anterior
displaced rectum, pelvic mass
 Metabolic – hypothyroidism, hypercalcemia, hypokalemia, cystic fibrosis,
diabetes, hypermagnesemia, adrenal insufficiency
 Abnormal abdominal musculature – down syndrome, prune belly, gastroschisis
 Connective tissue disorders – scleroderma
 Drugs – opiates, sucralfate, antacids, antihypertensives, anticholinergics,
tricyclic antidepressants, sympathomimetics
 Other – heavy metal ingestion, Vitamin D intoxication, Botulism
Why do children become constipated?
 Each child has his own specific dietary needs
 Having infrequent bowel movements – usually happens after a child has had a
large and painful stool – he may associate a bowel movement with pain,
therefore he will try and hold his stools, which creates a viscous cycle.
Many parents mistake the behaviors that children develop to hold in stool as
straining to have a bowel movement, but they are usually stiffening their
muscles or fidgeting as an attempt to hold their stool in and avoid a painful
 Having a bad experience with potty training
 Also found in children with special needs and also as a side effect of many
 Causes include dietary factors, physical inactivity, mechanical obstruction,
numerous drugs, metabolic factors, endocrine abnormalities, and psychogenic
disorders (depression and the drugs used to treat it)
Treating Infants with Constipation
Younger infants and children with constipation should be carefully evaluated by
your Doctor. Poor feeding can lead to dehydration and constipation, so it is very
important to make sure that your child is gaining weight normally.
 The ultimate goal in treating constipation is for your child to have a soft
bowel movement each day
One of the main ways to prevent constipation is modifying your child’s diet
by decreasing foods that are constipating including cow’s milk, bananas,
yogurt, cheese, cooked carrots, and other foods that are low in fiber, soy
milk is a good alternative since it is less constipating
Increase the amount of fiber in your child’s diet – a daily recommendation is
that your child receives 5-6 grams of fiber plus their age
Read nutritional labels to choose foods that are high in fiber. Fruits (apples,
peaches, raspberries, and tangerines) and vegetables (raw squash, broccoli,
Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, cooked spinach,
black-eyed peas baked beans, kidney, navy, pinto and lima beans, sweet
potatoes, peas, turnip greens and raw tomatoes), especially if they are raw
and unpeeled, are good choices
Other foods that are good for children with constipation include vegetable
soups (lots of fiber and extra fluid) and popcorn. Extra bran can also be
helpful, including bran cereals (All-bran, Total, Bran Flakes), bran muffins,
shredded wheat, graham crackers, and whole wheat or 7-grain bread, and
whole grain cereal (oatmeal. Wheatena)
Increase the amount of fluids that your child is drinking – minimum of 2-3
glasses of water and juice each day, apple pear, or prune juice or other
juices high in sorbitol, are good choices. Caffeine tends to dry out your
Get enough exercise – regular exercise helps your system stay active and
healthy. You do not need to become a great athlete
Allow your child enough time to have a bowel movement – sometimes we feel
so hurried we do not pay attention to our body’s needs. Make sure you do
not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement
Use laxatives only if a Doctor says you should
Check with your Doctor about any medicines you take
Understand that normal bowel habits are different for everyone
Medications to Treat Constipation – dietary changes take time to become effective,
and until they do, your child may need to be on a stool softener. These are often
used long term as maintenance therapy and are considered to be safe, effective
and non-habit forming or addictive. You do want to avoid chronic use of stimulate
laxatives, such as Bisacodyl, Exlax or Castor oil. An osmotic type laxative, which
works by drawing extra fluid into the colon to soften the stool, is usually safer for
long-term use.
Commonly used constipation medications include:
 Milk of Magnesia – an osmotic laxative with a chalky taste that some
children may not tolerate – mixing it with 1-2 teaspoons of tang, nestle quick
or a milk shake (1 – 12 teaspoons 1-2 times per day)
Mineral Oil – a lubricant that you can mix with orange juice, may cause
leakage and staining of underwear (1-2 teaspoons 1-2 times per day)
Docusate – Colace or Surfak – a lubricant laxative – also available as a
stimulant laxative in the combination medicine Peri-Colace (½ - 6 teaspoons
1-4 times per day)
Malt Soup Extract – Maltsupex – (1-6 teaspoons 1-2 times per day)
Senokot – a stimulant laxative
Bisacodyl – a stimulant laxative - Correctol and Dulcolax
Lactulose – an osmotic laxative by prescription (1-2 ml/kg 1-2 times per day)
Miralax – a tasteless osmotic laxative
In addition to a stool softener, it may also help to give added fiber by mixing
Metamucil or Citrucel (1 – 3 teaspoons 1-3 times per day) with 8 ounces of water or
juice, or another bulk forming laxative or fiber supplements. The above dosages will
depend on your child’s age and weight, but consult your Doctor before starting
them or changing dosages.
Disimpaction or Treating Acute Constipation
Because there is often a large, hard mass of stool that has “backed up” in your
child’s rectum, your child often has to have a “clean out” or disimpaction.
Fortunately, this is rarely done manually; instead it is usually done (with your
doctor’s approval) using an enema or suppository, or sometimes can be done with
Mineral oil up to 1 ounce per your child’s age in years up to 8 ounces per dose for 23 days, or Miralax. Children under 18 months can be given a glycerin suppository,
between 18 months and 9 years – a pediatric fleets or ½ of a dulcolax suppository,
older children can be given a regular fleet’s enema or a whole dulcolax suppository.
You should avoid regular usage of enemas or suppositories.
Behavior Modification
Once your child’s stools have become soft and regular, it is important to modify his
behavior and encourage him to have regular bowel movements – have him sit on the
toilet for 10-15 minutes after meals once or twice a day – keep a diary or sticker
when he tries/takes medicine/or has a stool.
Complications of Constipation
Constipation can lead to anal fissures or tears in the skin around the rectum,
bleeding hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, and impaction. Encopresis (incontinence of
stool, or the inability to know when a child has to have a bowel movement) can lead
to involuntary leakage of stool secondary to the impaction of large masses of stool.
The main mistake parents make in treating their children with constipation is
stopping the medication once their child begins to have soft stools. If stopped too
early, your child is likely to relapse and become constipated again. Instead of
stopping the medication, decrease the dosage by 25%. Do not make too many
changes based on a single stool. Once your child is having regular soft stools, you
can then talk with your Doctor about decreasing the dosages of the laxative that
you are using.
We mentioned constipation briefly as causing a problem with feedings. Work with
your Physician on a plan for keeping this under control. You can start with things
like prune juice. Fiber additives, suppositories, enemas, and manual removal are
steps, which may have to be added. (Do not forget that extra water may help).
Preventing constipation is better than treating it, once it occurs, so do not hesitate
to be aggressive. You may also find the use of an antacid, such as Maalox which
combines a little Milk of Magnesia with a little Aluminum Hydroxide) will help soften
the stool as well as cut down on some of the acidity, try one that only has Aluminum
or Calcium Hydroxide, caretakers get real expert at juggling the two of them. If
there is an episode of diarrhea, you may want to switch to clear liquids for 12-24
hours if there is a fever, and then work your way back up from dilute to full
strength formula again. Many antibiotics have the side effect of wiping out the
“good” bacteria in the intestines and you can ask your Physician about ways of
replacing these (there are pills ‘”Acidophilus” that could be crushed and given or you
can use yogurt diluted in water or formula).
The one thing that you need to be aware of as an acute situation where you need
help is a bowel or intestinal “blockage”. There is usually distention and the entire
feeding will remain in the stomach. This is different from the occasional ounce or
two that might remain in the stomach from one feeding to the next, as if it was an
“off” meal. You may be fooled into thinking that things are ok, because there is
some dark colored seepage (liquidy stool) around the impacted stool on to the
diaper. If you pull gently back on the gastrostomy (GT) tube with the syringe and
almost all of the feeding is there, do not replace it. Give several ounces of water,
wait 30-45 minutes and gently pull back again. If the water is gone, try some
diluted formula. If you find that the amount is close to what you put in, contact
your Physician. You should not have to withdraw on the syringe if your child has a
jejunostomy tube, the formula should already be going into the intestines and the
absorption phase in process
Appendicitis – is the most common surgical procedure in children. It is caused by an
acute inflammation of an obstruction of the intestinal lumen caused by a fecal mass,
stricture, barium ingestion, or viral infection. This obstruction sets off an
inflammation process that can lead to infection, thrombosis, necrosis, and
perforation. If the appendix perforates or ruptures, the infected contents spill
into the abdominal cavity, causing peritonitis, the most common complication of
Signs and symptoms usually start with generalized or localized colicky abdominal or
epigastric pain, followed by nausea, anorexia, and a few episodes of vomiting. Pain
eventually localizes in the right upper quadrant, increasing tenderness and spasms.
Later signs may be diarrhea or constipation, slight fever, and tachycardia. Sudden
cessation (stoppage) of abdominal pain indicates a perforation or infarction of the
Diagnosis is by physical findings and clinical symptoms – fever and an elevated white
cell count. The diagnosis must rule out other gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.
Treatment – the only effective treatment is an appendectomy. Laparoscopic
appendectomies, which decrease the recovery time and hospital stay, are now
performed. If peritonitis develops, hospital stay will be longer and further
treatment of intravenous fluids (IV), antibiotics, etc. will be necessary.
Intestinal (Bowel) Obstruction
An intestinal obstruction is a partial or complete obstruction of the lumen of the
small or large bowel. A small bowel obstruction is far more common (90% of
patients) and usually more serious. A complete obstruction in any part of the bowel,
if untreated, can cause death from shock and vascular collapse. Intestinal
obstructions are most likely to occur from adhesions caused by previous abdominal
surgery, hernias, or Crohn’s disease.
The three forms of intestinal obstruction are:
 Simple – blockage prevents intestinal contents from passing with no other
 Strangulated – blood supply to part or all of the obstructed section is cut
off in addition to blockage of the lumen
 Close-looped – both ends of a bowel section are occluded, isolating it from
the rest of the intestine
When intestinal obstruction occurs, fluid, air, and gas collects near the site.
Peristalsis increases temporarily as the bowel tries to force its contents through
the obstruction, injuring intestinal mucosa and causing distention at and above the
site of the obstruction. The distention blocks the flow of venous blood and halts
Different Causes for Bowel Obstructions
normal absorptive processes. As a result, the bowel begins to secrete water,
sodium, and potassium into the fluid pooled in the lumen. This results in distention
and enormous amounts of fluid in the gut (intestine/abdomen). An obstruction in
the upper intestine results in metabolic alkalosis from dehydration and loss of
gastric hydrochloric acid; a lower obstruction causes slower dehydration and loss of
intestinal alkaline fluids, resulting in metabolic acidosis.
Signs and symptoms of small bowel obstruction include: colicky pain, nausea, profuse
vomiting, abdominal distention, dehydration and constipation (which signify a
complete obstruction). As the obstruction becomes more complete depending on
the site of the obstruction, spasms, more severe vomiting of stomach contents, bile
and then fecal material will be evident. Small amounts of mucus and blood may be
passed. There is minimal or no fever. Large bowel obstruction develops more slowly
because the colon can absorb fluid from its contents and distend well beyond its
normal size. Constipation may be the only sign for many days. Colicky abdominal
pain may appear suddenly, producing spasms, continuous hypogastric pain and
nausea, but vomiting is initially absent. As it progresses to a complete obstruction,
vomiting of fecal material, continuous pain, or localized peritonitis may be apparent.
Diagnosis is made by the progressive, colicky abdominal pain and distention, with or
without nausea and vomiting, suggesting bowel obstruction, x-rays show the
presence and location of intestinal gas and fluid, lab tests are also valuable in the
decrease of electrolytes, increased white cell count, and amylase level increased
(possibly due to irritation of the pancreas by a loop of bowel).
Treatment starts with correcting fluid and electrolyte imbalance, decompressing
the bowel to relieve vomiting with insertion of a nasogastric tube (NG) and treating
the peritonitis with antibiotics. Close monitoring of your child’s condition
determines the duration of treatment; if your child fails to improve or if the
condition deteriorates, surgery will be necessary – surgery is performed on all
patients with large-bowel obstruction.
Diverticulitis is an out-pouching of the colon, usually in the sigmoid area of the
colon. It develops from the musculature in the colon working against increased
intraluminal pressures (contributing factor may be diet and lack of roughage) to
move hard stools through. Two clinical forms appear: diverticulosis where
diverticula are present, but usually the patient is asymptomatic (may have
abdominal pain, fluctuating bowel habits, or constipation) or the symptoms are
questionable because they may be related to underlying irritable bowel syndrome
(IBS). In diverticulitis, diverticula are inflamed and may cause obstruction,
infection or hemorrhage (where retained undigested food mixed with bacteria
accumulates in a diverticular sac, forming a hard mass, which then cuts off the
blood supply to the thin walls of the sac, making them more susceptible to attack by
Diagnosis is usually found incidentally when an upper gastrointestinal series (GI) is
done, then a plain abdominal x-ray is done to confirm diagnosis to see the barium
filled diverticular sacs or sometimes the sacs are filled with impacted stool and
only outlines are seen. A sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy can be done for further
confirmation, but again should not be done with an acute attack of diverticulitis.
Treatment includes:
 Diverticulosis – means that the disease exists and will probably have
episodes of diverticulitis at times, but does not usually require treatment.
If pain, nausea, or constipation occur, a liquid or low residue diet, stool
softeners, and occasional doses of mineral oil may be helpful. These
measures relieve symptoms, minimize irritation, and lessen the risk of
progression to diverticulitis. After the pain subsides, continuing with a low
residue diet, Psyllium (to add more bulk to the stool) may be added twice per
day and increased water consumption to 8 glasses a day will help.
 Diverticulitis – without signs of perforation, aims to prevent constipation and
combat infection. This includes bed rest, a liquid diet, stool softeners or
bulking agents, antibiotic (Flagyl or Cipro), medication for the pain and top
relax smooth muscle and antispasmodic (Propantheline – generic name is
Probanthine) to control muscle spasms
Complications of diverticulitis includes:
 Perforation (rupture), peritonitis (infection), obstruction (blockage) or a
fistula (a tract running to another place in the abdomen or another body
organ such as the kidney) may require a temporary colostomy to drain
abscesses and rest the colon, 6-8 weeks after inflammation or infection
subsides, the colon can be reconnected
 Formation of fistulas involving the bladder, ureters, bowel, and abdominal
wall, or colon stricture – which may result in partial or complete obstruction
of the bowel may need to be repaired
Hemorrhage – (bleeding) usually stops spontaneously, but may need blood
replacement and careful monitoring of fluids and electrolytes
Intussusception is where a portion of the bowel telescopes into an adjacent portion
of the bowel. It is most common in infants between 3 months and 3 years. This
telescoping produces edema (swelling), bleeding from venous engorgement,
incarceration and obstruction.
Signs and symptoms include: intermittent attacks of severe colicky abdominal pain,
which causes the child to scream, draw his legs up, turn pale and diaphoretic
(sweating profusely), and between bouts may be sleepy and lethargic; initially
vomiting of stomach contents then will see bile stained or fecal emesis (vomiting
stool contents); “current jelly” (red colored) stools – a mixture of blood and mucus;
tender, distended abdomen with a sausage shaped right upper abdomen.
Diagnosis is with barium enema (will see a coil-spring sign), upright abdominal x-rays
(may show a mass and the obstruction) and a blood test (that will show an elevated
white cell count).
Treatment – surgery is most frequently required in children especially if it is a
recurrent event. Sometimes they can reverse the telescoping.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder characterized
by altered bowel habits, usually associated with abdominal pain, in the absence of
detectable structural abnormalities. Recent information indicates that irritable
bowel syndrome (IBS) is a syndrome complex of motor disorders, not limited to the
colon, but which may affect other parts of the gastrointestinal tract and affects
the smooth muscle or afferent processing tissue of the body.
The clinical picture may be variable, but your child may complain of abdominal pain,
alternating constipation and diarrhea with one being dominant and abdominal
distention with belching or flatulence (gas). Some children may also have dyspepsia
(gastric discomfort), nausea or vomiting. Alterations in gastric emptying have also
been demonstrated in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), especially in children and adolescents, is often
initiated by excessive attention to bowel movements, which can result in laxative
abuse, the use of enemas, and over involvement of the parent in the child’s bowel
Diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) rests on two elements: a history of
compatible symptomatology and the exclusion of other possible pathology. Although
the clinical picture can vary considerably, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal
distention, and pain are the most prevalent symptoms, and most children fall into
one or two categories. In one type of clinical presentation, abdominal pain is the
predominant symptom, and is often associated with meals. Altered bowel habits
may be present, but this is not the major complaint. In the second category of
children, the main symptom is changes in bowel habits, although pain may also be
present. The clinical picture consists of alternating diarrhea and constipation,
which may be due to the child’s use of laxatives for constipation and antispasmodics
for the resultant diarrhea. There is also a group of children who present with
painless, watery diarrhea. Some clinicians feel this is a variant of irritable bowel
syndrome (IBS), but others believe this represents other clinical entities and
deserves further attention to the different diagnosis. It is interesting to note
that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and dyspepsia syndromes may overlap and that
symptom profiles can change over time. Several studies have also demonstrated
that emotional stress alters colonic motility in patients with irritable bowel
syndrome (IBS). Generally, motility is inhibited with depression and stimulated
with hostility.
A thorough carefully recorded history is of primary importance for establishing the
diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and for differentiating it from other
gastrointestinal disorders. The major clinical features of irritable bowel syndrome
(IBS) - abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel habits – are common to many
gastrointestinal disorders. There are, however, some important clues, which
strongly suggest irritable bowel syndrome (IBS):
 A long history of symptoms without progressive deterioration
 The absence of nocturnal diarrhea
 The absence of systemic signs and symptoms such as fever, weight loss,
anorexia, or anemia
 Bowel movements primarily in the morning
 Increased symptoms during periods of increased stress
 A feeling of incomplete evacuation
 Relief of discomfort with evacuation
 The absence of blood in the stool
A medication history should also be taken. A recent history of antibiotic or
antiinflammatory use is of particular importance, because both can induce diarrhea.
Antibiotic use is also related to the likelihood of Clostridium difficile enterocolitis
(c. diff). The use of over the counter antiflatulents and antacids should also be
noted, and the child or parents should be asked about laxative use in order to
exclude possible chronic laxative abuse – which sometimes usage is concealed. Also,
diuretics, iron, calcium channel blockers and anticholinergics, including some anti
depressants can cause constipation.
The medical history should include information about previous diseases of the
gastrointestinal (GI) tract, abdominal or rectal surgery, bleeding, or blood in the
stool. Personal family history questions should also be asked as well as potential
sources of chronic stress including problems arising from the family circumstances
of your child. There may be a hereditary component here, in that other family
members may have experienced similar symptoms. Questions about diet should
focus on foods that seem to provoke symptoms. Certain foods such as corn,
legumes, and dairy products may be associated with increased symptoms. Food
intolerances, particularly milk and alcohol should be identified to help differentiate
such things as lactase deficiency and alcohol induced diarrhea.
The physical exam includes an abdominal and rectal exam. The abdominal exam will
pinpoint the locality of the pain and any distention. The rectal exam is to identify
any fissures (groves), fistulas (tracts running to another part of the body), or
ulcers, which would signal a diagnosis other than irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),
such as Crohn’s disease. A stool for occult blood should be done to establish a
differential diagnosis other than irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as well. A
sigmoidoscope (a tube with a light to examine the lower colon) or a colon exam is
done if there is rectal bleeding, weight loss, anemia, or polyps (usually fibrous) are
found with the scope.
Management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often includes reassurance, stress
reducing activities, life style changes, dietary changes, drug therapy, and referrals
if necessary. For children who present with both diarrhea and constipation, the
Doctor should determine which is the most pressing symptom and manage
accordingly. Foods to avoid in diets include: disaccharides, salad dressings, gravy,
alcohol, sauces, coffee, tea, and cola drinks (if they worsen symptoms); milk or milk
products should be excluded if lactose intolerance is confirmed, limiting Sorbitol
and Mannitol may help decrease diarrhea; beans, lentils, Brussel sprouts, and
cabbage, if flatus increases with these foods. Tobacco use is another issue to
discontinue due to symptoms. Diets with high-fiber and stool-bilking agents such as
bran may help constipation. Antispasmodics may help relieve the pain of intestinal
cramps – example Dicyclomine (Bentyl) and Hyoscyamine (Levsin) (side effect is
dryness of the mouth), antidiarrheal drugs can be treated with Diphenoxylate
(Lomotil) or Loperamide (imodium) for symptomatic relief, some anti depressants
such as Amitriptyline (Elavil), Doxepin (Sinequan), Imipramine (Tofranil), Fluoxetine
(Prozac), and Trazodone (Deseryl) have been reported by some to be helpful with
chronic pain of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) due to there therapeutic effects in
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) unrelated to underlying depression or mood
improvement. And education is always an important aspect of medical care,
especially in dietary management, avoidance of precipitating factors, and control of
stress response. Follow-up care is also important. If at the end of 6 months there
has not been significant improvement, your Doctor should consider referring you or
your child to a specialist.
Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease in an inflammation of the intestinal tract. It can affect any portion
of the tract from the mouth to the rectum, mostly affecting the small and large
intestine. Causes are unknown, but possibilities include allergies, genetic component
or other immune disorders and infection. Whatever the cause of Crohn’s disease,
lacteal blockage in the intestinal wall leads to edema and eventually to mucosal
inflammation, ulceration, structuring, and fistula and abscess formation. Symptoms
of acute disease may mimic appendicitis and include:
 Steady, colicky pain in the right lower quadrant
 Cramping
 Tenderness
 Flatulence
 Nausea
 Fever
 Diarrhea
 Bleeding – usually mild
Symptoms of chronic disease are more typical and include:
 Abdominal distention
 Crampy abdomen
 Low-grade fever
 Weight loss
 Fatigue
 Weakness
 Diarrhea – non bloody and intermittent with right lower quadrant pain or pain
around the umbilicus
 Fistulas may occur from the large to small colon and can see diarrhea, weight
loss, and malnutrition
Complications may lead to intestinal obstruction, fistula formation between the
small bowel and the bladder, perianal and perirectal abscesses and fistulas, intraabdominal abscesses and perforation.
Diagnosis - Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series with small bowel follow through may
demonstrate ulcerations, stricture, and fistulas. Lab tests can often help diagnose
with increased white cell count, low hemoglobin, etc. A barium enema showing the
string sign (segments of stricture separated by normal bowel) supports the
diagnosis. Flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy may show patchy areas of
inflammation, ulcers, or strictures, thus helping to rule out ulcerative colitis.
However, a definitive diagnosis is possible only after a biopsy.
Treatment – no cure for Crohn’s exits and treatment is symptomatic but can be
very effective. If your child is debilitated, they are not allowed to eat so as to let
the bowel rest and are fed through an IV. Drug therapy including antiinflammatory
corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, antispasmodics, anti-bacterial, antidiarrheals may be used. Effective treatment requires important lifestyle changes
including: physical rest, low-residue diet, and elimination of dairy products for
lactose intolerance. Surgery may be necessary if more severe symptoms of
bleeding and perforation occur.
Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammation that affects the surface of the colon, most
commonly, the rectum and sigmoid colon. It can move upward and affect the larger
colon and rarely affects the small colon. Severity ranges from a mild, localized
disorder to a full-blown disease that may lead to a perforated colon, progressing to
peritonitis and toxemia.
Symptoms for ulcerative colitis include:
 Bloody diarrhea – hallmark symptom – the intensity of these attacks varies
with the extent of inflammation
 Five or fewer bowel movements per day with intermittent bleeding and
mucus production
 Left lower quadrant pain relieved by defecation, along with fecal urgency
and tenesmus
 More progressed symptoms include more than five bowel movements per day,
resulting in anemia, hypovolemia, and impaired nutrition
Complications of ulcerative colitis include:
 Blood – anemia from iron deficiency, coagulation defects due to Vitamin K
 Skin – rash on the face and arms, legs and ankles
 Eye – uveitis (inflammation of the eye)
 Liver – cirrhosis
 Musculoskeletal – arthritis, loss of muscle mass
 Gastrointestinal (GI) – strictures, perforated colon
 History and physical examination – all of the pertinent information about
stool pattern, color, etc.
 Sigmoidoscopy - will show increased mucus, edema, and erosions (wearing
away), biopsy can also help with diagnosis
 Colonoscopy – may be done to determine the extent of the disease
 Stool specimen – should be done for specific organisms
 None of these should be done during an acute attack of ulcerative colitis
Treatment for ulcerative colitis:
 Relieve symptoms of the acute attack
 Prevent recurrent attacks
To replace nutritional losses and blood volume
Prevent complications
Intravenous (IV’s), blood transfusions, clear liquid diet, iron supplements
may be necessary
Drug therapy – to control inflammation (Prednisone), antidiarrheal to control
diarrhea (Lomotil), topical agents for rectal area (Mesalamine – generic name
is Asacol), sulfa drugs
Surgery if necessary may require a colostomy or ileostomy
Hemorrhoids are defined as a varicosity (twisted, knotted) in the lower rectum or
anus owing to congestion in the veins in the hemorrhoidal plexus. Straining to have
a bowel movement, constipation, prolonged sitting or standing, coughing, sneezing or
vomiting contribute to the development of hemorrhoids
 Internal hemorrhoids - originate above the internal sphincter of the anus. If
they become large enough to protrude from the anus, they become
constricted and painful, small ones may bleed with having a stool
 External hemorrhoids - originate outside the external sphincter. They are
usually not painful and bleeding does not occur unless a hemorrhoidal vein
ruptures or thromboses.
Signs and symptoms will cause the following:
 First-degree hemorrhoids – bright red blood appears on the stool or on
toilet paper due to injury of the fragile mucosa covering the hemorrhoid,
may itch due to poor anal hygiene
 Second-degree hemorrhoids – may prolapse but are usually painless and
spontaneously return to the anal canal following a bowel movement
 Third-degree hemorrhoids – cause constant discomfort and prolapse in
response to any increase in intra-abdominal pressure. They must be
manually reduced. Thrombosis of external hemorrhoids produces sudden
rectal pain and a large, firm lump that you can feel. If hemorrhoids cause
severe or recurrent bleeding, they may lead to secondary anemia with
significant pallor, fatigue, and weakness
Treatment includes: measures to ease pain, combat swelling congestion and regulate
bowel habits, local application of a topical medication to lubricate, anesthetize, and
shrink the hemorrhoid (Preparation H – lotions, creams or suppositories), sitz baths
and cold and hot compresses are also soothing. You may want to increase the
amount of raw vegetables, fruit, and whole grain cereals in your diet, or by using
stool softeners.
Rectal Polyps
Rectal Polyps are defined as masses of tissue that rise above the muscosal
membrane and protrude into the gastrointestinal tract. Most polyps are benign.
You may see in children under age 10 and are characterized by rectal bleeding as
the major symptom. Predisposing factors include heredity, age, infection and diet.
They appear large, inflammatory lesions, often without a tissue covering. Mucusfilled cysts cover their usually smooth surface. Watch for and report any form of
rectal bleeding.
Pressure sores – will also have its’ own section and will be completed soon
DifficultTests That May Be Done To Help With Diagnosis
Barium Swallow
A barium swallow is sometimes done first because it is less invasive. A barium
swallow can be a part of an upper gastrointestinal series (GI) or an endoscopy
(EGD). It is done to rule out esophageal issues and to rule out aspiration problems,
to watch barium slide down the esophagus and into the stomach. It can show
diverticulum, varices, aspiration, ulcers, motility disorders, and gastrointestinal
reflux disease (GERD) – where they do a scan to watch for transit time from the
esophagus to the stomach).
Tell your child he will have nothing to eat or drink from the midnight before the
exam. It will take approximately 30 minutes to do the exam. Barium looks like a
milkshake and is thick like a milkshake also. They are usually flavored. At first the
radiologist will want you to drink some thick barium, and he will watch it slide down
your throat and then the liquid will be a thinner consistency and they will again
watch it slide down through your esophagus. Your child will be placed on a tilt table
to view the esophagus and stomach in different positions. Avoid taking antacids
prior to the test.
An endoscopy – (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) – EGD – is the visual examination of
the lining of the esophagus, the stomach and the upper duodenum, using a flexible
fiber-optic endoscope. It is indicated in children with bloody vomiting, bloody
stools, or substernal or epigastric pain, and in post operative children with
recurrent or new symptoms. This procedure is generally safe, but it can cause
perforation (rupture) of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum, especially if your
child is restless or uncooperative. Endoscopy (EGD), which can detect small or
surface lesions/cysts missed by x-ray, eliminates the need for extensive
exploratory surgery. It also permits lab evaluation of abnormalities first detected
by x-ray because the scope provides a channel for biopsy forceps or a cytology
brush. Similarly, it allows removal of foreign bodies by suction (for small, soft
objects) or by electrocautery snare or forceps (for large, hard objects).
Purpose of the endoscopy (EGD)
 To diagnose inflammatory disease including esophagitis, gastritis and
duodenitis, benign tumors and acute or chronic ulcers, Mallory-Weiss
syndrome(refer to glossary), and structural abnormalities, may also
demonstrate diverticula, varices, esophageal and pyloric stenosis
(constriction) and esophageal hiatal hernia
 To evaluate the stomach and duodenum postoperatively
 To obtain emergency diagnosis of duodenal ulcer or esophageal injury
Patient teaching
Your child will not have anything to eat from midnight before the exam. A consent
form will need to be signed prior to the test. He will have a conscious sedation
medication to allow him to not remember the procedure. His vital signs will be
checked frequently immediately after the test. A safe environment will be
provided until he recovers from the sedation with the side rails up on the bed. He
will not be allowed any food or fluids until the gag reflex returns, which is usually
within one hour. If your child is fed with a gastrostomy (GT) tube, it will be turned
off at least 4 hours prior to the exam and then resumed as the Doctor orders.
Your child may complain of a sore throat for 3-4 days and may belch more air than
normal. Remember to watch for signs of any complications like increased difficulty
in swallowing, pain, fever, black stools, or bloody vomiting.
A colonoscopy is the visual examination of the lining of the large intestine with a
flexible fiber-optic endoscope. This test is indicated for children with a history of
constipation and diarrhea, persistent rectal bleeding or lower abdominal pain.
Colonoscopy is usually a safe procedure, but it could cause perforation.
Purpose of a colonoscopy
 To detect or evaluate inflammatory and ulcerative bowel disease
 To locate the origin of lower gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding
 To aid diagnosis of colonic structures and benign or malignant lesions
 To evaluate the colon postoperatively for recurrence of polyps
Patient Teaching
Tell your child that he will just have clear liquids (consists of jello, broth, tea,
sprite, 7up, apple juice, grape juice or cranberry juice) 24-48 hours prior to the
test, and the night before the test to take nothing by mouth. The test will take
30-60 minutes. Also, the intestine needs to be thoroughly cleansed for the test to
be effective and he will have to drink a laxative (example - Go Lytely). He will
probably have an intravenous (IV) inserted in his arm to have an access for a
relaxant to be given prior to the test. A consent form will need to be signed prior
to the test. Vital signs will be taken frequently during the test and for one hour
after the test. He will be in a safe environment until he is fully awake from the
sedation. He may also pass a large amount of gas from the air that was introduced
during the procedure. Biopsies and polyps may also be removed during the
procedure if warranted.
Abdominal Girth
Abdominal girth measurement can detect significant changes in size of the
abdomen. Measuring the abdomen is a test you as a parent can do at home if you
feel that your child may be uncomfortable, having pain, or possibly a bowel
obstruction. What you will be checking for if abdominal distention – the stomach
size can increase 3-4 inches or more during certain abdominal problems. Examples
of abdominal distention may occur if residuals from the stomach are high (tube
feedings are not being digested properly and you may have a residual of 100-400cc
of tube feeding in the stomach), a lot of gas build up in the stomach and intestines,
constipation – where your child has not had a bowel movement for quite a few days
and a lot of stool can be in the intestines. The abdomen may not only appear swollen
or distended, but also may be tight and shiny.
Have your child lie completely flat on his back. Explain to him exactly what you are
going to do and why if he can understand you. Take a tape measure and place it
around his back and directly over his umbilicus, measure his abdominal girth to
obtain a baseline reading. Along the tape on his body, take a felt tip pen and mark
in three places – one on each side and then one in the center at the umbilicus, so as
to always measure at the same place. If the pen markings wear off with bathing,
just take the pen and remark the areas. Then keep a record of the date, time, and
inches of the measurement for future comparisons.
Insertion of an NG (Nasogastric) Tube
The nasogastric tube, inserted into the stomach through the nose, has diagnostic
and therapeutic uses. It can be used to assess and treat upper gastrointestinal
tract bleeding, to collect gastric contents for analysis, to perform gastric-lavage,
to aspirate gastric secretions, and to administer medications and feedings. It is
also used commonly after major surgery to decompress the stomach and prevent
vomiting by keeping the stomach empty.
The diameter of a nasogastric tube is larger than some of the feeding tubes and
therefore normally medications are inserted through the tube with little difficulty.
Parents can be taught to insert a nasogastric tube (NG) very easily – if your Doctor
feels it necessary to intermittently insert a nasogastric tube (NG) or whatever the
circumstance may be, will be your Physician’s decision. Explain to your child what
you will be doing and why. You will want to have your child sitting up in a straight
position. Lubricate the end of the tube with KY jelly before insertion. To know how
far down to put the tube, take the tube, measure from the tip of the ear to the
nose and then from the nose to just below the sternum to the stomach area. Tilt
your child’s head down a little, insert the tube in either nostril. You will feel the
tube sliding past the opening to the lungs and it will go down into the esophagus and
then the stomach. Make sure you tape the tube securely on the nose. Take a piece
of tape approximately 3 - 4 inches long, tear it in half, all but about 1-1 ½ inches or
the size of your child’s nose, make so your child’s nose is free from oily skin, you can
clean the nose with an alcohol pad or if you have some tincture of benzoin (it will
make the area sticky so the tape adheres better), wipe some on his nose, let it dry
for 30 seconds or so, put the piece of the tape that was not torn on the nose, then
wrap each half of the tape around the tube, one half and then the other. Make so
you check to make sure you have the tube in the stomach by connecting a syringe on
the end of the tube and pulling back on the plunger until you get stomach contents
(usually yellow or green liquid). Another way to tell if you have the tube in the
stomach is to put the end in a glass of water, if you do not see any bubbles, the
tube will be placed correctly. Also, if you are getting the tube in your child’s lungs,
he will usually have difficulty breathing and may gag or cough and you will see
bubbles if the end of the tube is placed in a glass of water.
Insertion of a nasogastric (NG) tube and listening of bowel sounds
Checking the Stomach contents for Residual
If your child has a nasogastric (NG), gastrostomy (GT) or jejunostomy (JT) tube,
you can check to make sure that the feedings are being digested and useful for his
body. Take a syringe and connect it to the end of the nasogastric tube (NG) or the
feeding tube. Pull back on the plunger and measure the total amount of fluid that
you can withdraw – this is called the residual amount. If you are going to check for
residual, do so before giving meds or a feeding unless it is a continuous feeding or
you will pull the stomach contents out that you just put in. If your child is vomiting
and he has a tube (nasogastric (NG) or feeding tube gastrostomy / (GT)
Jejunostomy (JT) tube), checking for residual is important – you may have 100-300
or so cc’s that are still in the stomach. Do not replace that liquid unless your
Doctor wants you to. There will be a lot of minerals etc. in that fluid, and your
Doctor will instruct you on what he wants you to do. Usually, an amount greater than
100-150 cc’s would indicate stopping the feeding for awhile, but each Doctor will
tell you his preference as to his limits for residuals.
Checking for an Impaction
If your child is having problems with constipation, it may require you to manually
break up the stool in order for the stool to be expelled. Your Doctor may ask you if
you feel comfortable doing this procedure at home or if you have a health care
where a nurse could assist you in your home.
Lubricate a gloved finger with KY jelly and insert your finger into the rectum of
your child. If impacted, you will feel hard chunks of stool in the rectum.
Sometimes all you may feel is soft stool which probably means that there may be
harder pieces of stool higher than what you can reach with your finger (your Doctor
may order a fleet enema which helps in getting the process started of having a
stool). If hard stool is felt (a mineral oil fleets may be ordered by your Doctor to
soften the stool enough so your child can then expel it), then try to break up the
pieces and expel it for your child. Encourage him to “push” which usually working
together can get the job accomplished. If your child seems to be experiencing a lot
of discomfort and you see bleeding around the rectal area, do not “dig” too much,
sooner wait alittle while and try again. Also, refer to the section on preventing
Enemas For Diagnostic Testing
Your Doctor will be the one to tell you or give you a prescription for laxatives or
enemas. Refer to the section on constipation for more information. For diagnostic
testing, especially of the lower intestine, it will have to be “cleaned out” or
laxatives, enemas given in preparation for the test. Depending on the diagnostic
test will determine the laxatives or enemas required for the test to be done.
Golytely is usually given but it will be your Doctor’s decision. You should adhere
strictly to the instructions prior to diagnostic test of the gastrointestinal (GI)
tract when laxatives or enemas are ordered, to achieve maximum results from the
Insertion Of A Rectal Tube
A rectal tube may be ordered if the abdomen is extremely distended or if watery
diarrhea is a real problem where the rectal area is raw from the acid in the watery
If there is a large amount of gas seen on an abdominal x-ray, it may be necessary to
insert a rectal tube. This is also where measuring the abdominal girth will be
helpful as described in an earlier in this section under diagnostic testing.
Abdominal distention can be very uncomfortable and painful. If watery diarrhea is a
complication and is causing a lot of rectal excoriation of the skin, your Doctor may
order a rectal tube until the diarrhea can be controlled.
The tube is inserted 4-6 inches and then taped to the skin of the buttocks. The
tube has holes on the end to allow the stool to be passed through the tube.
Stool specimen for mucus or for blood testing
Stool specimens can be ordered to help in diagnosing intestinal infections,
gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding and other gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. If a stool
specimen is ordered by your Doctor, you will need a container to collect the stool.
You will want to make sure you know if you will need to get the specimen to the lab
as soon as possible or if it can wait until the next day (some specimens need to be
warm when they get to the lab). If your child has a rectal tube – you can
disconnect the tube from the drainage bag and collect a specimen into your
specimen collection container and then take it to the lab.
Evaluating stool characteristics – as you probably know, the appearance of stool may
help to identify the location of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding and other
gastrointestinal (GI) problems as well. The following lists specific abnormal stool
characteristics and the possible causes.
 Black, tarry stool (melena) – upper gastrointestinal bleeding (gastrointestinal
tract) or slowly bleeding problems from the colon
 Black stool – rapid elimination of bile or the ingestion of iron
 Stool streaked with blood or blood clots on the stool surface – bleeding in
the lower colon at the site of stool formation or hemorrhoids
 Red or maroon stool – lower (sometimes upper) gastrointestinal
(gastrointestinal tract) bleeding
 Mucoid stool – colitis or mucus-producing lesion
 Large, bulky, foul-smelling stool that floats on water – malabsorption of fat
(steatorrhea) or large quantity of air or other gas in the stool
Clay-colored stool – liver problems (for example, hepatitis) or bile
obstruction or residue from barium studies
Changes in stool color are not always the result of a disease or disorder. Some
causes of variant stool color follow below.
 Red – carrots, beets, tomatoes, red peppers or a drug called Pyrvinium
 Black – licorice, grape juice or drugs with iron in it or Phenylbutazone
 Brown – cocoa, high intake of meat protein (dark brown) or a drug called
 Green-blue or black – spinach or Bismuth preparations (used in nausea,
vomiting and indigestion
 Yellow – rhubarb, high intake of milk (yellow-brown) or Senna (laxative)
 White discoloration or speckling – Antacids containing aluminum hydroxide
Abdominal X-rays and CT Scans (Computerized Tomography)
Regular abdominal x-rays and computerized tomography (CT) scans as well as other
radiographic tests can also be very helpful in diagnosing gastrointestinal (GI) tract
disorders – having the ability of seeing abdominal distention, a lot of gas in the
bowel, free air which may signify intestinal perforation, stool impactions, hiatal
hernias, ulcers, gallbladder disease, and other disorders to detect, differentiate,
distinguish, diagnose and evaluate gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.
Laboratory Tests
There are also many, many lab tests available today to aide in diagnosing each
specific disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract for our children.
Positive Things That May Be Helpful In GI Disorders
Diets and Dental Issues - Refer to the sections on diets and dental issues. Also
with gastrointestinal (GI) problems, bland foods (cooked cereals, soft-boiled eggs,
toast, mashed potatoes, puddings, cottage cheese, pasta’s – foods without a lot of
spices)may be required, more frequent feedings during the day, possibly eating
something small with medications or more fiber in the diet can all be useful
approaches to your child’s diet.
In ulcer disease, the treatment aims to help the stomach rest through dietary
changes, medications, and physical and emotional relaxation. Small hourly feedings
may relieve your child’s symptoms by reducing the extent of distention, by reducing
digestive juice secretion and gastric motility. During the acute phase, make so you
follow the prescribed diet which may include a “sippy” diet which is small amounts
of milk alternating with antacids every 30 minutes – this is an older diet, but if all
else fails this may prove to be effective. Gradually, frequent small meals of bland
foods will be added.
Foods to be avoided include: high-fiber foods (cabbage, irritating foods such as
soups and gravies), large meals, and fruit juices, carbonated, caffeinated, and
alcoholic beverages as they increase gastric secretions. Constipation may occur and
the Doctor will order laxatives. A normal diet will be resumed usually after a
repeat x-ray is done to see if ulcer healing has occurred. In irritable or
diverticular disease, the diet therapy is to allow the bowel to heal by decreasing its
activity while providing the calories and nutrition necessary for healing. It is very
important to follow the diet to achieve remission and prevent complications – to
understand the prescribed diet – high in protein, calories and vitamins. Avoid foods
that irritate the intestines or that require excessive intestinal activity such as milk
products, spicy or fried high residue foods, raw vegetables and fruits, and wholegrain cereals, carbonated, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages as they increase
bowel activity. Also discourage extremely hot or cold food or fluids because they
can cause gas. Extra vitamins are given to compensate for the bowel’s inability to
absorb them.
Schedules – Scheduling of medications and feedings can also be helpful in dealing
with gastrointestinal (GI) problems. Scheduling of meals prevents the stomach
from becoming totally empty, thereby avoiding the acidic condition – which may
mean to modify the timing, size, and content of the meals to decrease the amount
of acid secreted for digestion – 4-6 small meals or more may be needed for awhile.
A small meal prevents a large outpouring of digestive secretions and reduces
stomach bulk, thus relieving symptoms resulting from displacement of other organs.
To decrease nighttime distress, eating a small evening meal at least 3 hours before
bedtime may be helpful and also to eat slowly to avoid more gastric secretions at
one time. Scheduling of medications is very important. To schedule medications
around mealtime can be a real plus to have food in the stomach. Taking antacids
neutralize the gastric secretions – they taste better cold and keeping chewable
antacids handy could be helpful too. You may also want to eat something small if
you have to take medications at bedtime like a couple of crackers or a bite or two
of pudding or something. But remember, some medications are not to be given with
food, so ask your pharmacist specific questions about each medication so you will
know if it needs or can be given with or without food.
 Antacids – represent an important adjunctive treatment for ulcers and
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Antacids can be divided into two
Anticholinergics – they inhibit gastrointestinal (GI) motility and prolong
gastric emptying, thereby enhancing the effects of these drugs. They are
used primarily to relieve peptic ulcer pain, but can be used to treat irritable
and spastic bowel, other functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and
neurogenic bowel disease. Common side effects include tachycardia (fast
heart rate), nausea, vomiting, and visual disturbances (blurred or double
vision). Their purpose is to inhibit the effects of the neurotransmitter
acetylcholine at the junction between postganglionic nerve endings and
effector organs – they block the action of acetylcholine on the vagus nerve
which reduces gastric acid secretion and intestinal motility, the
antispasmodics directly relax GI smooth muscle. They can be given before
or with meals. Report any side effects to your Doctor, avoid central nervous
system (CNS) depressants which may potentiate side effects, avoid
overexertion in hot or humid weather because the drug decreases sweating,
thereby causing body temperature to rise and possibly lead to heatstroke,
wear sunglasses if experiencing photophobia, try to chew sugarless gum to
relieve dry mouth, examples – Belladonna, Phenobarbital, Atropine, or
Antidiarrheals – by inhibiting peristalsis and prolonging gastric emptying,
these drugs help to control acute or chronic diarrhea resulting from laxative
abuse, malabsorption disorders, food or drug reactions, and infectious or
inflammatory conditions. The three most commonly prescribed medications
are Loperamide (Imodium), Diphenoxylate with Atropine (Lomotil), and Opium
Antiemetics – given to prevent or control nausea and vomiting. The purpose
of these drugs is to prevent and control vomiting by acting on the
chemoreceptor trigger zone in the medulla oblongata (the brain control
center), also to inhibit transmission along the neural pathways from the
inner ear. These drugs prove most effective when given prophylactically.
Side effects of this class of drugs include sedation and use cautiously if
other central nervous system (CNS) depressants are also being given, may
also cause extrapyramidal symptoms especially if taken for a long time, and
also hypertension, tachycardia, or orthostatic hypotension, fever, sore
throat, weakness, constipation and urinary retention, Antacids interfere
with the effectiveness of these drugs and should be given separately (at
least 2 hours) from other medications. Do not give with cough and cold
remedies or sleeping pills, report chest pain, palpitations, or persistent
headache, can cause dizziness or drowsiness, rise slowly due to the fact that
the blood pressure may drop, chew sugarless gum to relieve dry mouth,
Antiinflammatory – this group of drugs will help decrease inflammation
especially in intestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel
syndrome or diverticulitis (Prednisone, Azulfidine). The purpose of these
drugs are to reduce inflammation. Side effects are weight gain, aching
joints and muscles, dizziness, fever, headache, hematuria, itching, jaundice,
low back pain, photosensitivity, rash, unusual bleeding or bruising, anorexia,
GI upset, and urine discoloration. Food, beverages and over the counter
drugs do not influence the safety or effectiveness of this drug, take with
food to prevent stomach upset, do not chew, break or crush the drug – may
cause gastric irritation, may turn urine orange yellow color, also protect your
skin from the sun’s direct rays – increases sensitivity to ultraviolet rays
Histamine Receptor Antagonists – these drugs are the treatment of choice
for ulcer disorders this group include Tagamet, Zantac and Pepcid. They are
used for prophylactic and short-term treatment of duodenal and gastric
ulcers and to prevent gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding by helping to heal ulcers
within 6-8 weeks. The purpose of this group of drugs is to inhibit the action
of histamine at the parietal cell receptor sites. H2 receptor antagonists
reduce gastric secretion of hydrochloric acid and reduce the volume of
gastric juices and secretion of pepsin in the stomach. Side effects include
central nervous system (CNS) effects, dizziness, confusion, nausea vomiting,
muscle pain, skin rash, fever, diarrhea, or constipation. You will need to take
the full course of treatment, report any signs of high fevers, confusion,
fatigue and weakness, if taking Antacids – do not take within 1 hour of the
drug prescribed, avoid spicy foods, hot drinks, caffeine, aspirin (to prevent
gastrointestinal (GI) irritation), take with or immediately after a meal – food
delays the absorption of the drug, thereby prolonging its effects
Laxatives – these drugs are designed to ease the passage of feces through
the colon and rectum causing relief or preventing constipation. Monitor for
abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bowel movements (amount,
consistency, and color, also degree of effort required to have a bowel
movement), fluid intake to ensure adequate hydration to prevent
dehydration (fever, tachycardia, hypotension, decreased urine output, poor
skin turgor, and extreme thirst), and electrolyte and acid-base balance
(weakness, diminished reflexes, twitching, vomiting, hypotension, and a rapid
thready pulse). Look to the individual group of laxatives for side effects.
Do not take laxatives if experiencing abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting,
drink plenty of water 6-8 glasses a day, if after taking the laxative, does not
have a bowel movement (but it is not necessary to have a bowel movement
every day), and to maintain regular exercise, adequate fluid and fiber intake,
Bulk-forming – this group of laxatives causes the bowel to absorb
water and expand, increasing the bulk and fluid content of stool, also
enhances peristalsis and evacuation. Examples are Barley malt
extract, Metamucil, and Psyllium. Side effects include nausea,
vomiting, or gastrointestinal (GI) stricture when taken dry and
abdominal cramps. Laxative effect occurs within 12-24 hours but may
be delayed up to 3 days, drink at least 8 hours with laxative, and it
may decrease the appetite if taken before meals. This group of
drugs is contraindicated in patients who are on sodium restricted
diets, and in people with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, intestinal
obstruction, ulceration, adhesions, or swallowing difficulties
Stool softeners – these laxatives reduce the surface tension of
interfacing liquid bowel contents by increasing the fluid content of
stool and softening the fecal mass. Example is Colace, or Pericolace.
Side effects include – throat irritation, bitter taste in the mouth,
abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. It is good for those who should not
strain with defecation, onset is usually 24-48 hours, discontinue if
severe cramps occur, also contraindicated if abdominal pain, nausea,
vomiting, intestinal ulceration or obstruction
Hyperosmolar – this group of laxatives act in different ways.
Glycerin draws water into the feces, increasing bulk and promoting
peristalsis, lactulose produces an osmotic effect, which draws water
into the colon resulting in bowel distention which stimulates
peristalsis, the saline laxatives exert an osmotic effect in the small
intestine, producing distention and enhancing peristalsis, also
promoting secretion of cholecystokinin by the intestinal mucosa,
which stimulates the intestinal motility and inhibits fluid and
electrolyte absorption in the jejunum and ileum (small intestines).
Examples are Glycerin, Lactulose, Magnesium or Sodium salts. Side
effects are abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, dehydration,
electrolyte, and acid-base imbalance. Drink plenty of water, hold oral
or other drugs for least 2 hours after giving, will produce watery
stool within 3-6 hours give so it does not interfere with other
activities or sleep. Contraindicated also with abdominal cramping
nausea, vomiting, intestinal obstruction or irritation, fecal impaction
or rectal fissures
Lubricant – this group of laxatives create a barrier between the
colonic wall and the fecal mass (stool), preventing absorption of fecal
water by the colon and promoting its retention in the stool. Example
is Mineral oil. Side effects: abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or
Stimulating – these laxatives are thought to increase peristalsis by
exerting a direct effect on intestinal smooth muscle, either by
irritating the muscle or by stimulating the colonic intramural plexus,
they also promote fluid and electrolyte accumulation in the colon and
small intestine. Examples are Dulcolax, Cascara, Castor oil, and Senna.
Side effects include – nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea in
high doses, breathing difficulty. Do not give oral drugs within 2 hours
of laxatives, usually effective within 2-8 hours – again schedule so not
to interfere with other activities or sleep. Contraindicated also with
abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, intestinal obstruction or
irritation, fecal impaction or rectal fissures
Medications that affect the gastrointestinal (GI) system
 Analgesics – examples Aspirin, Indocin, Pyridium, Butazolidin – side effects
include nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal (GI) distress, rectal bleeding,
diarrhea, peptic ulcers
 Anti-infectives – examples: Sulfonamides, Achromycin - side effects include
oral ulcerations, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tooth
discoloration, stomatitis
 Hypnotics – example Seconal (sleeping pill) - side effects include nausea, and
 Narcotics – examples – Codeine, Demerol, Morphine - side effects include
nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth
Diets for Children with Special Needs
Foods your children like - if children are having any type of problems with their diet
whether it be, anorexia. weight loss, weight gain, difficulty swallowing, illness such
as the flu, reflux, or intestinal problems, every attempt should be made to prepare
foods that they like in order to get enough calories and nutrients in their daily diet,
and as your child slowly begins to lose his oral skills, it becomes that much more
Well-balanced meals have to be a #1 priority in making so their diets include foods
of the 4 basic food groups. Whether you as parents have to give your child 5-6
small meals in order for your child to get enough calories and nutrients for a day,
feed them or assist them with their meals (due to visual problems), or whatever the
situation may be, it is so highly important to achieve the correct number of calories
and nutrients for your child/children. Lab tests need to be evaluated periodically
because, as Batten children continue to deteriorate, lab tests will also decrease as
amounts of nutrition and proteins are eaten – for example – albumin measures the
amount of protein in our bodies – when the lab values decrease for our Batten
children, it is usually due to malnutrition and the need for gastrostomy/jejunostomy
(GTube/JTube) will be necessary if that is your decision. When albumin levels are
low then we need to be concerned about skin breakdown, swelling of the hands, feet
and face, etc, because the body no longer can replace the necessary amounts of
Characteristics seen in children who are tube fed
Hyperextension of the neck, accompanied by scapular adduction and shoulder
girdle elevation affecting the feeding and respiratory abilities
Respiratory difficulties - reflecting the incoordination of sucking and
swallowing patterns with breathing
Dysfunctional and disorganized sucking patterns – sucking rhythm is often
Swallowing disorders – as deterioration of the disease progresses,
swallowing becomes increasingly difficult
Hypersensitive responses to oral stimulation – seen in tube feeding children
because they no longer have to use sensory input to the mouth
Sensory defensive responses – to facial and oral stimulation becomes a
primary difficulty and they become afraid to swallow
Gastroesophageal reflux – when the lower end of the esophagus fails to
contract enough to prevent reflux or backwash of stomach contents into the
esophagus and pharynx
Delayed gastric emptying – when food remains in the stomach and is not
efficiently emptied into the small intestine, contributing to
gastroesophageal reflux and to a reduction in appetite
Gagging, retching and nausea – when the gastrointestinal system is under
severe stress, the unproduction retching and gagging is extremely
distressing to your child and strongly reduces the desire to eat
Eating aversion – a result of sensorimotor, gastrointestinal and
environmental responses possibly to reduce or prevent discomfort with the
eating experience
Failure to thrive – end result of physical, sensory, metabolic, or
environmental eating difficulties
Malignment of teeth – developmental abnormalities such as problems with
muscle tone, persistence of certain oral reflexes and patterns of movements
Plague can build up causing bacteria that can produce acid by fermenting
sugars from the food we eat – this can demineralize or destroy the enamel
of the tooth leading to tooth decay and that bacteria can cause toxins and
enzymes that cause gingivitis and the breakdown of gum tissue, gums look
swollen, and bleed easily – peridontitis is a condition where the membrane
holding the tooth to the gum is broken down may develop and eventually the
tooth may be lost
Calcium is mineralized plaque – if the muscles around the mouth do not work
well, if the tongue does not wipe the teeth, your child does not chew, then
calculus can build up readily, the presence of calculus makes it harder to
clean around the gum margin
Cleaning the teeth twice a day is best but if you do it once, choose a time
that is least chaotic – the best position for brushing someone’s teeth is from
behind and flossing is best done from the front. Use a soft bristled brush
with a small head. Electric toothbrushes are not better cleaners but may be
easier to use. Some children may need to have suction equipment handy to
suction out the toothpaste and water is gagging is a problem
Fluoride is not a problem any longer since most water is fluoridated
Children with mild sensorimotor impairment
Low-tone in the trunk with poor postural stability for movement – low tone
contributes to tension and poor coordination in the very parts of the body
which are required for skilled feeding and speech movements
Sensory processing difficulties – children who experience difficulties
processing and integrating sensory information often show mild sensorimotor
difficulties in feeding and speech
Drooling during speech or fine motor activities – children who lack trunk
stability and/or show incomplete head control frequently drool during
activities requiring higher levels of physical control or concentration
Low-tone in the cheeks and lips with poor or inefficient movement during
chewing – may result in loss of saliva or food from the mouth during eating,
drinking, and transfer of foods for chewing
Low-tone in the tongue with poor or inefficient movement during eating and
drinking – the tongue may lack the normal curved or grooved configuration
which makes it easier to move food from the front to the back of the mouth
Mild patterns of jaw thrusting or lip retraction – during excitement or
challenging feeding activities your child may show a tendency toward a
sudden downward movement of the jaw or a horizontal pull-back or
retraction of the lips, making it more difficult to develop movements for
feeding and speech
Sensory defensiveness of the body, face and mouth – your child may respond
in a very defensive “fight-flight” fashion when sensory input to the face or
mouth is given by another individual
Poor sensory discrimination or awareness of food in the mouth – children
may be unaware of small pieces of food still in their mouths for hours after
a meal which may cause coughing or choking
Poor attending skills during eating, which may result in coughing and choking
episodes or increased drooling – children who experience difficulty in
maintaining attention during eating may choose to get up from the table and
run around with food still in their mouth. This may cause coughing or choking
from accidentally falling
Delayed development of the ability to drink with the jaw quiet or stabilized –
your child may experience some difficulty with long drinking sequences or
may loose liquid while drinking
Delayed development of the ability to suck or swallow with an up-down
tongue movement
Delayed development of the ability to use the tongue to move food easily
from one side of the mouth to the other during chewing – children with
difficulties usually do not like meats which require a high level of
concentration and endurance for chewing
Delayed development of the ability to use the tongue to clean the outside of
the mouth
Delayed or difficult development of the ability to use the mouth in creative
ways to explore the sensory input of food – these activities are important
for the later ability to voluntarily control the mouth for motor-planning
Delayed development of motor planning abilities of the mouth during
feeding – your child normally learns to voluntarily use the tongue to remove
food stuck on different places on the lips and to execute other more playful
sensorimotor strategies such as blowing bubbles through a straw or spitting
at another child
Other delayed speech difficulties may be delayed onset of babbling,
articulation errors which are often related to delays or limitations in feeding
patterns, articulation errors which are often related to poor sensorimotor
awareness and discrimination during speech, poor separation of tongue and
lip movement from jaw movement during speech, difficulty with the
limitation of non-speech movements of the mouth, and motor planning
disorders or developmental dyspraxia (a partial loss of the ability to perform
skilled coordinated movements in motor sensory functions)
When is it time to change consistency of foods – when swallowing safety becomes
an issue – if you hear your child doing more coughing, maybe difficulty with drooling
or kind of spitting with their food, there may be a complication with having the
ability to swallow correctly. Many times parents do not realize their child is having
a problem until they end up with aspiration pneumonia – due to a condition called
silent aspiration. A speech pathologist can do modified swallowing studies to watch
your child swallow and see if the potential is there to aspirate, if so, she may find
that your child does ok with thickened liquids or foods with the consistency of
puddings, applesauce, mashed potatoes, etc. Positioning becomes extremely
important; the consistency of the food becomes important. If there is difficulty
with chewing, we begin to mash and grind food, we may need to thicken fluids, we
may need to watch how much is given at one time. There may be times of the day
when skills seem more coordinated than other times. This is when a speech
therapist or occupational therapist who has been trained in oral motor stimulation
may become a very valuable ally. Some of the adjustment will be made almost
unconsciously. However, as more coughing and choking occurs, as difficulty with
fluid intake begins to affect the consistency of the bowels and urinary output, the
decision for giving supplementary feedings has to be made.
The use of a special swallow study where the food can be given in a variety of
consistencies and amounts and the swallow recorded on videotape
(videoesophagram) may give some guidance in extending oral intake, showing the
exact trouble areas and what happens when you change position or the food/liquid
texture. Or the possibility is there that to give foods orally will no longer be
possible due to the inability to swallow foods and alternative ways for nutrition will
have to be pursued quickly, which would mean most likely a GTube/JTube
(gastrostomy tube which would go directly into the stomach or a jejunostomy tube
which goes directly into the small intestines). Sometimes an NG tube (nasogastric
tube which also goes directly into the stomach but is less comfortable for long
term use) is inserted for a few days until a gastrostomy or a jejunostomy tube
(GT/JT) can be inserted.
Weight loss or weight gain – weight loss will probably be one of the first signs (if
you weigh your child on a regular basis) that your child is not eating adequate
calories and nutrients or you may see some signs of anorexia (refer to the section
on anorexia) especially if your child is having difficulty swallowing. Your child most
likely will be almost afraid to eat because of the choking aspect. Then you also have
to think about dehydration, increased chances of illness due to decrease in immune
systems, decreased urine output and probably decrease in the number of stools he
is having on a daily or weekly basis due to the decrease in food consumption.
Depending on the age of your child and his normal weight – losing 5-10 pounds may
be quite significant in the health of your child. Most likely in this situation, weight
gain will not be an issue because your child will not feel like eating so much to gain
weight due to the swallowing difficulties.
When to make a decision – the decision may be made for you if a
modified swallowing study is done and it is apparent that your child is aspirating
constantly or develops aspiration pneumonia. Hopefully, you will be able to see little
signs that your child is having increasing difficulty with swallowing and be able to
make a decision before aspiration pneumonia develops. It is much better to have a
GT/JT (gastrostomy or jejunostomy tubes) inserted when there are no other
problems to deal with and do it prophalactically before it really becomes a major
issue. The issues involved in tube feeding have been openly discussed in the press
over the last years in relation to the maintenance of life. The ethical and moral
issues will continue to be and quantity debated, as quality of life is perceived
differently by individuals.
The maintenance of adequate hydration and nutrition in your child who is no longer
capable of being able to take sustenance orally is a very personal issue and must be
left to those who are an integral part of your child’s life. When it involves a family
member who has a “degenerative syndrome” and each inch yielded is gone for good,
it is often very difficult to face squarely the fact that something needs to be done.
There are two choices – either you interfere and begin some type of supplementary
feeding via a tube or you do not interfere and continue as best you can with the
assistance of a speech pathologist or nutritionist in helping you to modify your
child’s diet to maintain adequate food and fluids as long as possible . A
supplemental feeding will definitely prolong life and this becomes a major question.
There is no right or wrong, and it is important that families openly discuss with a
wide variety of professionals the various options that are available. The decision to
tube feed is a very difficult one – the realization that there is a loss of skills,
perhaps the guilt that you can not manage some part of this, the prospect of a
surgical procedure and pain, and all the other emotionally charged issues with
family, friends, and acquaintances, including what it will do to getting people to help
care for your child (tube feeding is a “nursing” skill) and what about taking care of
my child in school. If you know that you are going to support with supplementary
feedings, it is better to begin (and to have a feeding tube if that is part of your
plan for your child) before there is real nutritional compromise and dehydration.
Once you as parents have reached a decision, then it is important to make sure that
the professionals involved in the care of your child are fully aware of what is to be
done; and that it is available in a legally binding form with all those who may be in a
position to respond. If the decision is made to tube feed, it becomes imperative to
see this as only a part of the total care of your child, and for things to go well, and
for the best state of well being to be achieved and maintained, all parts have to be
working together. If you as parents decide not to place a feeding tube, which we
have some parents who do – they feel that by this time in the degenerative process
of Batten Disease, they no longer want to prolong the agony and the life of their
child. And also remember, that just because you have made the decision to not
start a tube feeding by placing a tube and withholding nutrition, you are not
withholding other forms of care, especially comfort. But, please also, always
remember, that whatever your decision, you will be supported by BDSRA.
How do we accomplish comfort, hydration, and a state of nutritional wellbeing? First, we need to look at what is happening and meet whatever needs are
there. As the degenerative process occurs, there are gradual losses of oral skills.
The ability to handle food orally requires the coordination of hundreds of muscles
being activated by the nervous system in a very complicated but coordinated way.
In the normal development of a child, the ability to drink and chew well occurred in
a very sequential way over a five-year period. Beginning with a suckling motion, your
child advanced to sucking, munching, and then chewing. From a tongue that could
only move back and forth your child graduated to moving the tongue from side to
side, sweeping food around the mouth. From being able to master a cookie that
would get soggy and soft, your child learned to chew a piece of steak. From having
liquid dribble down his chin, your child learned to close his lips and propel the liquid
down his throat, closing off the airway, so that he did not cough or choke.
Even with all our years of practice, there is not one among us that has not burped
on a carbonated beverage and had it go up our nose. We were guilty of not closing
the opening between our soft palate and the back of the pharynx. There is not one
of us who has not started to swallow something and realized that it was going down
the wrong way. We forgot to close the epiglottis over the windpipe. Mother nature
thoughtfully provides us with a cough so that we immediately begin to get it up
from our lungs. And there is not one of us that have not experienced the
discomfort of acid indigestion, to the point that perhaps we were nauseated and
even vomited. Acid coming out of the stomach and back up into the esophagus is
called reflux. Something going down the windpipe (trachea) and into the lungs is
called aspiration. And, as the ability to control lessens; these two things begin to
Purpose of tube feedings
The primary purposes for the alternative means of tube feedings are: safety,
prevention of pneumonia (usually aspiration pneumonia), administration of
medication, maintenance of hydration, preserving energy levels, maintaining weight,
adequate caloric consumption, and for those children who demonstrate a
progressive loss of oral motor skills. The term, feeding tube, has a different
meaning for every individual who is faced with the decision of whether or not to
pursue this treatment. There are many reasons to have a gastrostomy/jejunostomy
(GT/JT) tube placed. These may include difficulty swallowing medications,
difficulty swallowing food and weight loss, which are the usual problems that bring
the issue up during a doctor’s visit. Again, this is a problem that many families are
faced with. It is totally a personal and family decision to insert or not to insert a
g-tube. The most important issue here is that you will be supported in your
The mechanics of placing a tube feeding are very straight forward and can be found
in dozens of publications. The secret of tube feeding successfully comes in seeing
tube feeding in the same light as what would occur if your child were verbally able
to tell you about his hunger or thirst at the time you are offering a feeding. There
are days when all of us are hungry and days when our appetite is “off”. When we
are “sick” or if we have a little temperature, we tend not to want a “heavy” meal but
go for lighter foods and plenty of liquids. If we are constipated, we certainly do
not feel like having a four-course dinner, and if we are tense, or have physical pain,
then eating may be the last thing we think about. Just because we are able to put
something down a tube, does not allow us the privilege of ignoring all the things that
go into making nourishment a pleasant experience. Developing an intuitive sense
about the total state of well – being is as important as the calories consumed and
even though our ultimate goal may be to add a few pounds, comfort is important.
Things to think about when developing a health care plan either at home or school
for your child in determining what kind of tube would be best for your child with
the assistance of your Physician and your nutritional team.
List of items to consider include the following:
Size and type of the feeding device
Type of portable pump
Type of feeding your child is receiving (bolus/continuous drip, liquid formulapureed/liquefied food from home)
Activity level after feeding
Positioning during and after feeding
Determining the need to measure gastric residuals
Determining the need to vent the feeding tube
Patency of the feeding tube (nasogastric - NG, gastrostomy - GT, or
jejunostomy - JT) and time frame for reinsertion should the tube fall out
Monitoring concerns (example – vomiting, abdominal distention, or pain)
Amount of food or drink your child can take by mouth
Amount of oral stimulation during feeding, as ordered
Medications and schedule for administering
Specific guidelines for feeding administration during transport for your child
Allergies – food, medications or things like latex alert
Universal precautions (anticipating the tasks to be done, the risk involved, and
the personal equipment needed will enhance protection of both the caregiver
and your child)
Manufacturer’s specific directions
What is a feeding tube and what kinds are there?
A feeding tube is a rubber-like catheter that is inserted through the nose to the
stomach or inserted directly into the stomach or small intestine. This bypasses the
mouth and esophagus (food pipe) and puts fluids, medications and nutrition directly
into the stomach or intestine for absorption by the body. It is called a nasogastric
tube (NG) gastrostomy tube (GT) or a jejunostomy tube (JT). Approximately 6
inches of the tube extends from the opening in the abdomen and can be anchored
to the abdomen with tape or a special anchoring system when not in use. Signs of
possible need for nasogastric (NG), gastrostomy (GT), or jejunostomy (JT Tube
include: frequent choking during meals, increasing time to complete meals with
fatigue from difficulty chewing/swallowing, weight loss with decreased energy,
inability to take necessary medication, one or more bouts of pneumonia caused by
aspiration. Often the nasogastric tube (NG) can be used temporarily with the
placement of the gastrostomy tube seen as the long-term solution. Again individual
decisions and the unique circumstances of your particular child make this decision a
very “special” one.
Nasogastric tube (NG) - a rubber or plastic tube inserted through the nostril,
down into the throat and into the stomach, it is used to give liquids, medications,
and feedings when a person is unable to take these by mouth, some children will
have a tube inserted for each feeding, several weeks or just as a temporary means
until a gastrostomy or jejunostomy tube can be scheduled and inserted, placement
needs to be checked before each feeding or giving medications, usually used in
short term use, and takes only 5 minutes to insert nasogastric tubes (NG) – to
prevent sore throat and mouth sores due to prolonged placement of tube, give good
oral care with brushing of teeth, and using mouthwash, lemon and glycerine swabs.
(Dry mucous membranes may indicate dehydration)
Check for proper placement of the nasogastric feeding tube because small bore
tubing’s may slide into the trachea without causing immediate symptoms of
respiratory distress, such as coughing, gagging, choking, gasping or cyanosis. To
ensure that the feeding tube has not entered the larynx, ask your child to speak.
Another thing to think about if and when your child receives a feeding tube of any
kind, is to develop a form for home health care nurses, aides, companions, school
aides, teachers, nurses, or anyone who may come in contact with your child and at
some point be a part of your child’s care. It can be modified to fit your needs.
General Information Sheet
Children with Nasogastric (NG), Gastrostomy (GT) or Jejunostomy (JT) Tubes
Dear (teacher, bus driver, lunch aide, school nurse, home health nurse, home health
____________________________ (child’s name) has a condition that requires a
different method of eating which may be a nasogastric (NG), gastrostomy (GT) or
jejunostomy (JT) tube. This is a simple and safe way of giving food, medications,
and fluids directly into the stomach and/or intestines because my child is unable to
eat or take medicines by mouth
A nasogastric tube (NG) is placed through the nose to the stomach and is taped in
place on the nose and/or cheek. A gastrostomy or a jejunostomy tube is a surgical
opening into the stomach or intestines. A flexible rubber tube is put into the
surgical opening. It is held in place from the inside of the stomach as well as from
the outside of the abdomen at all times. The tube is clamped or capped between
feedings to prevent leakage. This tube does not normally cause my child discomfort
and is covered by his clothing.
My child may receive feedings or medication through this tube as needed during
the day while at home, school day in a classroom, the lunchroom, or the health
office child or where ever we may be. Unless my child has a condition that
otherwise would interfere with participation in physical education or other
activities, there is no reason why my child can not participate fully. Special
consideration may be needed, however, for field trips or other activities during
which my child may not be able to receive a regularly scheduled feeding.
The following staff members (at home or at school) have been trained to deal with
any problems that may arise with my child:
For more information about my child and his/her special needs about Nasogastric
(NG), Gastrostomy (GT), or Jejunostomy (JT) tubes or any other needs he/she may
have, consult the home health nurse, the school nurse or parents.
If he can not talk, the tube is in the larynx and should be removed immediately
because misplacement can cause instillation of fluid into the respiratory system.
Also pull back gently when checking for tube placement because negative pressure
can cause a small bore tube to collapse. If you meet any resistance during
aspiration, stop the procedure, because resistance may result simply from the tube
lying against the stomach wall. Reposition or withdraw the tube a few inches, readvance the tube and try to aspirate again. Look for a coiled tube in mouth to also
check for placement.
Placement Of A Nasogastric tube (NG), Listening For Bowel Sounds With A
Gastrostomy tube – For a gastrostomy/jejunostomy (GT/JT), your child will be
slightly sedated (conscious sedation, most likely) for the procedure. It usually
takes 15-30 minutes from start to finish. You will be given instructions for home
care after the procedure. Sometimes a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube
(PEG) or foley (also a catheter that can be used to insert into the bladder for
incontinence) is inserted first until the stomach gets used to the feedings and
after healing, a button will be placed (usually 8-12 weeks). If your child is young
when he receives his first gastrostomy tube, it may need changed to meet the
growing needs of your child.
A gastrostomy tube is a surgical opening with a tube inserted directly into the
stomach through the surface of the abdomen, usually needs to be changed every 69 months, absence of discomfort as with the nasogastric tube, easily hidden under
clothing, tubes can be changed at home, the disadvantage is that initially it will have
to be inserted in a hospital or same day surgery procedure and more costly, used
for the long term, and takes 15-30 minutes to insert, there will be approximately 6
inches outside of the abdomen unless a skin-level tube is placed, which is a “T”
shaped plastic device is held in place by a mushroom-shaped dome or fluid-filled
balloon inside the stomach. The device remains in place at all times and is capped
by an attached safety plug between feedings. In addition, the dome has an
antireflux valve to further prevent leakage of stomach contents. A feeding is
administered by inserting a small tube into the device. When the feeding is
complete, the tube is removed and the safety plug closed. The gastrostomy device
may be used to administer food, fluids, and/or medications directly into the
stomach. This method is used to bypass the usual route of feeding by mouth when
there is an obstruction of the esophagus, swallowing is impaired and your child is at
risk for choking/aspiration, or when your child has difficulty taking enough food by
mouth to maintain adequate nutrition. Your child may receive a gastrostomy
feeding by either bolus or continuous or slow-drip method. A bolus is a specific
amount of feeding given at one time (over 20-30 minutes). A slow-drip or
continuous, feeding is given slowly over a number of hours. The gastrostomy device
also may be used to drain abdominal contents or to release air or gas when venting
is required. This is done by inserting a special adapter or tube to open the
antireflux valve.
This shows the placement of a gastrostomy tube (GT) and a jejunostomy tube
(JT) in the picture on the right in regards to the stomach and small intestine.
The picture on the right shows where both tubes would be placed if a child had
them both simultaneously.
Jejunostomy tube – a jejunostomy is a surgical opening into the jejunum (the small
intestine between the duodenum and the ileum) through the surface of the
abdomen. The jejunostomy tube (JT) is a flexible, rubber or latex catheter that is
held in place on the abdominal wall with tape or is fed through the gastrostomy site
(GT) through the intestine down to the jejunum and taped to the gastrointestinal
tube (GT). The tube remains in the small intestine at all times and must not move in
or out. The jejunostomy tube (JT) causes no discomfort when in place. The
jejunostomy tube (JT) may be used to administer food and fluids directly into the
jejunum. This method is used to bypass the usual route of feeding by mouth and
stomach when there is blockage in the upper esophagus and/or stomach, your child
is at risk for aspiration and gastroesophageal reflux disease, your child has
difficulty taking enough food by mouth or gastrostomy feedings to maintain
adequate nutrition, your child has intestinal pseudo-obstruction or short bowel
syndrome, your child has had major stomach surgery or a problem with stomach
emptying, or your child has a depressed gag reflex. Your child will receive jejunal
feedings by a continuous drip method slowly over a period of hours. The continuous
This picture shows again the placement of a gastrostomy tube (GT) at skin
level most likely a MIC-KEY tube, how it shows the balloon inside the stomach
and the adaptable ports.
drip method is preferred over the bolus method to prevent giving a large volume of
feeding over a short period of time. In addition to jejunostomy (JT), gastrostomy
(GT) skin-level feeding devices and nasojejunal tubes are placed surgically to
provide direct jejunal feedings. Factors affecting selection of these devices are
your child’s age, the size of the device, and whether your child is allergic to the
material of the device. Some children may have a gastrostomy/jejunostomy
(GT/JT) tube in the same stoma (opening). There may be two distinctly separate
tubes or one tube with several identified ports. Some children may have a
gastrostomy device and a jejunostomy device and will have two distinct abdominal
stoma sites. In most cases, the gastrostomy device will be vented for comfort, and
in many situations, the venting is continuous. The gastrojejunal tube is a single tube
with three limbs, including a jejunal feeding port (the opening of the tubing into the
jejunum), a gastric port (the opening of the tubing into the stomach), and a balloon
inflation limb (holds the tube in place).
This picture also shows the placement of a gastrostomy and a jejunostomy tube
and the sphincters in the stomach. The upper sphincter is called the LES
(lower esophageal sphincter) and the lower sphincter is called the pyloric
There is one abdominal stoma (gastrostomy), and the device passes through the
gastrostomy and stomach and into the jejunum. Other children may have a
nasogastric (NG) tube or other small tube inserted through the gastrostomy (GT)
opening alongside the gastrostomy and into the jejunum.
However, the gastrostomy/jejunostomy tube (GT/JT) offers some advantages to
the continued use of the nasogastric tube (NG) – both esthetically and medically.
Because we know that with the degenerative syndrome, tolerance of general
anesthetics are decreased and that often there is an acceleration of loss under
this type of stressful occurrence, many tubes are being done using the
Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG tube) method. Following are different
forms of tubes available:
These are different GT’s and JT’s and specific ports
The MIC-KEY Skin Level Gastrostomy has safety plug, proximal anti-reflux
valve, medication port and an external extension set that locks preventing
accidental disconnection. It sits at 90 degrees to the skin
The Ross Abbott Stomate Low Profile Gastrostomy has a safety plug, antireflux valve, Y-port connector with right angle adapter
The Bard Button has safety plug, anti-reflux valve and venting
(decompression) via a special additional venting tube
The Corpak Low-Profile Gastrostomy Device (LPGD) has safety plug, antireflux valve and additional venting tubing
A Foley tube which has a balloon in it where you inset water through a port
into a balloon inside the stomach to prevent it from coming out
PEG tube (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy), which is put down through the
mouth with the assistance of an endoscopy tube and pulled out through a small
incision in the stomach, there is a plate inside the stomach which prevents it from
coming out and a plate on the outside (some of them) as a device for security
For all
tube feeding appliances
Have 2 sets of tubing available to be cost effective
Give water as ordered to maintain adequate hydration
To decrease oral discomfort – brush teeth and give good oral care
Clean nostrils, use Vaseline, watch for signs of skin breakdown
Medications except enteric coated can be given per jejunostomy tube
Encourage ambulation to aid in absorption of the feeding, promote nutrient
anabolic effects and foster a state of well-being
Monitor intake and output – sudden change in weight indicates altered
hydration and requires adjustment in feedings
Check for tube obstruction and esophageal erosion, call if suspected
Monitor hemoglobin if left upper abdominal pain is reported – rate of
feeding may be too high or inadequate absorption
Monitor tolerance by assessing diarrhea, cramping, nausea – tube feeding
rate may be too fast
Provide perineal care if diarrhea
Check urine for glucose (sugar)
Assess strep level – may experience a pseudo diabetic state
Stress decreases lactose needed for lactose hydrolysis in the
gastrointestinal tract (GI) – would order lactose free diet – if increase in
glucose and increase of urine – would indicate an excessive carbohydrate
To maintain a nitrogen balance level and promote healing and weight gain in
children, who can not tolerate oral or gastrostomy feedings, continuous drip
feedings are preferable because it ensures a reliable, stable blood sugar
concentration. Tubing’s at risk should be changed on regular basis. Store at
room temperature to discourage bacteria growth.
What Kind Of Formula
You will probably be working with a nutritionist to determine the calories that will
be needed for your child. Calculation needs to be made on height and weight
combined with the level of activity – not on age. A normally active nine years old
may require over two thousand calories a day. Yet a child the same size that is
confined to bed may only require a thousand calories. Some allowance must be made
for an increase in tone, or if there is a lot of spasm or perspiration, adjust both
calories and fluid amount.
Types of feedings available
Blended food – home made food which has been blended, seldom used as it is
troublesome to prepare and there is a higher chance of causing blockage of the
tube and also vomiting of your child, but certainly is an option. If your child is still
permitted solid food, mix in a blender, the residue and fiber of a blended normal
diet promotes bowel function and most children prefer it to a liquid formula.
Commercial food – can provide complete nutrition for the day, ready made liquid or
powder form (cheaper form), additives are available like additional fiber, soy
products, etc. There are many different brand names that are available today and
you can get them through your health care provider. Some children do not require
feedings at school but formulas are used to supplement their oral intake of food
and fluids.
In the beginning, you may just want to use tube feeding as a supplement to the oral
intake. So that if certain foods are still enjoyed, these can be fed orally – perhaps
your child really enjoys ice cream or pudding, or is a mashed up spaghetti fan, then
let him have what he can handle and make up the liquids and difference with tube
feeding. You may consider making your own tube feeding and certainly this can be
done. However, you risk a “lump” that can clog up the tube, you have to be careful
to meet all the nutritional requirements, and you are adding additional demands to
your time, which may be at a premium.
Very often, there has been a weight loss and some slight dehydration before the
procedure is done, and with good intentions, those involved in your child’s care will
be very anxious to get things up to the maximum as quickly as possible. TAKE
YOUR TIME!!! Advance slowly – let your child set the pace. Stomachs are touchy
after being poked, particularly when they have not had much in them and when
getting things in them has been rather stressful. Clear liquids, beginning with
water and then advancing to diluted juices (cranberry or apple – stay away from
orange juice because of the pulp) or punch combinations – hydration comes first,
then calories. And usually with hydration comes an immediate weight gain, a change
in urinary output and sometimes a nice change in the consistency of bowel
movements from hard and lumpy to soft, firm consistency. From juices begin at
quarter to half to three quarter strength, then you can move to a full-strength
formula. Recommended are those containing fiber if there are no dietary
restrictions and again start slow with one quarter to one half and then three
quarter strength formula. Some families alternate a fiber formula one day and a
formula with no fiber the next day, or may use fiber 2-3/week and plain the other
Medications Through A feeding tube
In addition to using the tube for feedings, you will be using the tube to give
medications. Medications may be administered through a feeding tube utilizing the
bolus feeding method. The Physician or pharmacist should be asked for liquid
medication where possible versus pills or capsules. Formula, juice or milk may be
used if the medication does not dissolve in water, but most medications do fine
dissolving in water, especially warm water. Even highly viscous liquids (sticky,
gummy, gelatinous liquid like CO-Q10) should be diluted in water prior to
administration. Always remember to flush the tube after inserting medications.
Ask your Physician or pharmacist as to a certain medication being able to be
crushed or dissolved or the compatibility with all of the medications you are
dissolving at one time. Also giving bulk laxatives like Metamucil may present a
problem. A few hints may help. DO NOT MIX THE MEDICATION INTO THE
FEEDING. If there is a problem, then there is no way of knowing how much has
been given and how much is left. MAKE SURE THAT TABLETS ARE CRUSHED
WELL AND DISSOLVED IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. Often soaking the medications in
water will soften the tablet so that it can be stirred into solution. Medications
that are known for stopping or clogging up tubes include Tegretol and your bulk
increasers such as Metamucil. Tegretol can be gotten as a liquid but has a short
shelf life (check with your pharmacist). Any of the fiber additives need to be given
immediately with plenty of rinse water afterward – in fact – you may want to draw
these up in a syringe and push them slowly – with another syringe ready to follow
with some more water to flush the tube and make sure that it all gets into the
Some medications may be irritating to the stomach, so you will want to given them
diluted down or after a part or all of the feeding. Some antibiotics must be given
on an empty stomach, so make sure that you check with your Doctor or pharmacist.
And of course, some medications should not be given together. If you are using an
oil, you will find that it settles out if mixed with formula, and if given through a
syringe down the tube, it will leave a slippery residue. Oil, if aspirated into the
lungs, causes the most difficult pneumonia to treat, so giving it needs to be done
Make sure that the medication schedule is complimentary to your feeding schedule.
If there is difficulty with spasms or increased tone, then perhaps medication can
be given 30 minutes prior to a meal so that your child is relaxed. Positioning is
important. The head should be elevated (either sitting in a chair or with the head
of the bed raised). If you do not have a hospital bed, roll up a blanket and stick it
between the box spring and the mattress. This will give a nice slant to the
mattress, and since having the head slightly elevated also helps to control
gastrointestinal reflux, this can actually be in place 24 hours a day. Sitting in a
chair (either straight up or reclined slightly) with the knees and hips bent, may help
lessen some of the tone and control some of the clonus (rhythmic movement of a
body part). Side lying, with legs bent and propped with pillows (particularly on the
right side) is a good position. Some tolerate being fed in a prone position (lying on
their tummies) – but it is important that your child be able to move their head from
side to side. The one position that needs to be watched is for your child to lye on
his back or being reclined to an almost flat position. If there is some gagging or
vomiting in this position, it is very difficult to get the secretions up and out, and
you risk having fluid getting back into the lungs causing aspiration pneumonia. If
you use this position, make sure that someone is close by.
Different methods of tube feedings
 Gravity - using a bag – place a stethoscope over the stomach, just to the left
of center, kink the feeding tube with your thumb and forefinger to prevent
the stomach contents from flowing out, remove the cap and connect a
syringe with plunger attached with 5-10c’s of air in it, unkink your tube,
quickly insert the air while listening with the stethoscope, you should hear a
pop sound which represents air entering the stomach, do not start the
feeding if you do not hear the air rush into the stomach, add your formula to
the bag and fill the tubing with formula before connecting it to the feeding
tube, unclamp the tube, adjust the flow rate at the prescribed rate – usually
15-60 minutes unless otherwise directed, you may hold your child, sit your
child in a chair, or place your child on his side in bed with his head elevated
while the feeding is infusing, make so you rinse the feeding tube after the
feeding is completed – usually 20-50cc’s or otherwise directed. Bolus
feedings (food is poured into the tube slowly versus a machine), it allows for
rapid feeding of formula over a relatively short period of time, can be
instilled using a bulbed or piston syringe or through the use of gravity flow,
and still get the required amounts of nutrition and fluids in for that day
 Continuous feeding – you will want to check placement as above before
starting the feeding, fill your bag and tubing with formula before connecting
it to the feeding tube, put the tubing with the cassette into the machine
(pump), make so it is set at the proper rate and start your feeding. The
Bolus feedings – you will want to check for placement and residual as with
gravity feedings, you may also insert the plunger and gently push the formula
in slowly, make sure you pinch the tubing off before inserting another
syringe to avoid excess air getting into the stomach, make sure you rinse the
tube with water when the formula is finished. Never force fluids through a
tube. Infuse the feeding as slowly as you can to prevent abdominal
cramping, nausea, vomiting, gastric distention or diarrhea – if the formula is
not infused slowly they are at a higher risk of aspiration and the
complications of pneumonia. This method allows more freedom in that you
can give feedings anywhere, which is nice when you want to leave the house.
Medications are given by this method.
Guidelines for giving a tube feeding – make sure you wash your hands with soap
and water before feeding your child. Prior to each feeding, the tube must be
checked for patency (being free to move) of fluids through the tube and the
gastric contents measured (checking for residual) – the Doctor will tell you the
level he feels is appropriate for your child – but as a rule under 150cc’s is
acceptable, if over that amount, withhold the feeding until the level goes down, you
must be certain to reinstall the withdrawn gastric (stomach fluid) contents, to
prevent loss of nutrients and electrolytes, and to check the markings (cm) on the
tube to be sure it has not moved. Formula should be given at room temperature (too
hot or cold could make your child uncomfortable), unused formula or blenderized
foods should be refrigerated and warmed to room temperature before feeding at
the next time, but never heat the solution as this could increase the growth of
bacteria. Your child should be fed in an upright position (at least 30 degrees) and
remain there for 30-60 minutes following the feeding to minimize the possibility of
aspiration and its complications.
The general guidelines for giving a feeding whether it is with a nasogastric (NG),
gastrostomy (GT) or jejunostomy (JT) tube or whether it is the bolus, gravity or
continuous method of feeding is basically the same.
Do a health care assessment on your child daily or more frequent when
needed. Any child with a feeding tube must receive a specific care
guidelines and those individuals to assist with the care of that child need to
have general training that covers the specific health care needs, potential
problems and how to implement and establish an emergency plan
Allow your child to help as much as he is able to do, but not to the point of
frustration and added stress
Be alert to any changes in your child’s tolerance to the feedings, example –
nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, too quick or too cold formula
Report to family any changes in child’s usual patterns
If medications are prescribed, give before or after feedings according to
your child’s specific health care guidelines
Be sure to check the rate and flow periodically and adjust if needed, check
residuals as ordered
Make sure you check for expiration dates of the formula (discard if one is
not seen on the can or bottle), discard once tube feeding is opened after 24
hours, make so you date and time when you opened a new can or bottle of
The actual procedure is as follows:
 Wash your hands and the hands of your child if he/she will be helping you to
decrease chances of infection
 Provide privacy
 Sit down or in a semi-fowlers position (approximately 90 degree angle) to
aid and promote in digestion and to help prevent esophageal reflux of the
feeding solution
 Insert a syringe to the clamped tube to reduce risk of introducing air into
your child’s gastrointestinal tract (GI) – causing distention and discomfort
 Check the feeding tube for placement by injecting 5-10 cc’s of air into the
stomach and listen with a stethoscope for a whoosing sound – you will be
listening just to the left of center under the sternum and ribs, also aspirate
stomach contents and note color and amount, if residual are elevated, wait
30-45 minutes, check the residual again before starting the feeding
 Once the tube feeding starts to infuse, tilt the syringe to allow for air
bubbles to escape, always mix solutions well before starting your feeding to
prevent your solution from separating, lower or raise the tubing to increase
or decrease the rate of gravity flow – normal is approximately 6 inches
Add more formula before the syringe or bag is completely empty to prevent
air from entering the gastrointestinal system (GI) and causing abdominal
bloating and or distention, never force a feeding through the tube
If giving a bolus feeding, it will take 10-30 minutes (nasogastric feedings
are usually given with the bolus method), if continuous, spread total amount
of formula over the given number of hours to be infused, make sure the
nasogastric tube (NG) is not pulling on the nose or causing discomfort
After the feeding is completed, please make sure you flush the tubing with
30-50 cc’s of water to prevent clogging or obstruction of the tube (to
maintain patency by removing excess sticky formula to develop on the sides
of the tube walls
Clamp the tube, then remove the syringe to decrease the amount of air
introduced into the gastrointestinal system (GI), to prevent leakage and
contamination of the tube
Instruct your child to remain in a sitting position for at least 30 minutes to
prevent leakage and gastric reflux into the esophagus and to enhance the
normal digestive process
Rinse all reusable equipment with warm water, dry, store in convenient place
for next feeding
Monitor intake and output to detect fluid and electrolytes imbalances which
can be easily be corrected if caught quickly
Wash stoma daily and dry thoroughly
If excessive skin irritation, rinse with ½ hydrogen peroxide and ½ saline, pat
dry, apply ointment to prevent further skin breakdown
Apply drain sponges around tube and tape with paper tape to again avoid
skin breakdown
Coil tube once and lay on top of dressing which reduces tension on suture
line and helps prevent separation, also helping to prevent an accidentally
pulled out tube
Cover with larger bandages (ABD’s) or montgomery straps (a large piece of
tape on either side on the tube that has holes in it that are free and then
you can take gauze or a string of some kind and tie the two sides together
to reduce irritation of the skin, also helps to protect the tube if your child
has a tendency to pull at the tube
Listen for bowel sounds to check for abdominal distention by measuring
abdominal girth
If your child complains of thirst, provide in between feedings of extra
water to maintain hydration. Provide oral care frequently
The feeding schedule is probably one of the hardest things to come up with and
will need to be adjusted from time to time to meet particular situations and needs.
Rule of thumb: do what you would do if your child was a “normal” child. Right after
surgery, you are going to do frequent small feedings, but within a matter of days
you will be able to increase the amounts given at one time and begin toward a
schedule of “meals” with some “snacks” in between. So that the goal may be to get
in four cans; and you will work toward a schedule of four feedings – breakfast,
lunch, dinner and bedtime. Some Doctors have the habit of ordering too much
formula. If your child has any problems with vomiting – cut down the prescribed
amount of formula in half and then slowly build back up to the prescribed amount as
long as your child is tolerating it. In between feedings, you may give water or juice
with medications or just extra free water. Each feeding will be about 10 ounces (8
of formula and 2 of water). To meet daily nutritional requirements you may be
asked to crush up a one a day vitamin and give it in between a meal. If the protein
is low, you might add a bit of powdered milk. If the calories are a little low you can
add karo syrup, sugar or a tasteless sugar called polycose. There is always a need
for “free” water/juices – more if the days are hot or if there is a lot of perspiring.
Feedings seem to go best when your child is relaxed, so if there is difficulty during
the day, a recommendation may be made to feed slowly through the night. The big
consideration is the chance of vomiting and not being heard. However, with careful
positioning, and a monitoring system, sometimes it needs to be used. Stick with a
schedule that meets your needs as well as your child’s needs. Combine the feeding
with some music, or a story, or perhaps some patting or touching. A normal meal
usually lasts about 20 minutes (when using the gravity method), so this would be a
minimum if you were pouring formula directly through a syringe and down the tube
(a gravity feeding). Since this will be when the phone rings, or someone comes to
the door, or something boils over on the stove, you will find that a feeding bag or
pump, even though they will be slower, frees your hands (and may be better
tolerated). You also need to have the formula at room temperature, since it is going
directly into the stomach, rather than down the esophagus, which takes some of
the chill off. Most insurance plans and medical assistance will pay for a pump and
we recommend that you put in a request for one when your date for surgery is set.
You may not need it in the beginning, but you will want it at some point. Just being
able to put up a container of clear liquids on a day when things are not going well, or
there is a fever, and being able to run it slowly over a 24 hour period, may prevent a
hospitalization for dehydration.
We have talked a little bit about controlling gastrointestinal reflux with positioning
and need to expand on this since an aspirational pneumonia is one of the most
common problems. If you see or hear a gag, wretch, or there is formula coming out
of your child’s mouth, STOP THE FEEDING IMMEDIATELY. Allow some time for
things to calm down, and then resume. If it happens again, STOP. Note how much
of the feeding is left and during the remainder of the day, try to make it up – if not
the calories, then at least the amount of fluids by giving additional water a few
ounces at a time. Try to intervene and stop the feeding before vomiting occurs
since vomiting seems to become easier to do, the more it happens. If there is a lot
of congestion or if there is some sinus congestion, the secretions may accumulate in
the back of the throat and cause gagging. Think of yourself in the morning or when
you have a cold, and try to think how you might get rid of it. Maybe a little chest
percussion (PT) will help loosen things up before you start. Or maybe, the first
feeding needs to be slower, or smaller. Each individual is different and with a little
detective work you can often figure out what is making things worse.
If at all possible, keep a record of what you are doing and the reaction. Patterns
may emerge that will be extremely useful to judge when changes need to be made.
Total intake can be examined to see where caloric and fluid changes can be done.
And you need to remember that things will need to be altered as time goes on. Do
not be afraid to take the lead in requesting pumps and medication. You are there,
you know your child, and it is far more important that what goes down, then to pour
things down, only to have them come up.
Just one more thing about scheduling and amounts. If you are going from one
amount to a higher one, do it gradually. Try adding an ounce or two to one of the
feedings; if all goes well, to the next and so on. If you run into trouble, do the
original amount for several feedings and then try again. It may take you a week to
go from 32 ounces to 40 ounces; you may find that you can increase volume before
you can increase calories. We often recommend that you begin by doing a day or
two of increased volume before you even switch to increased volume.
All of this seems complicated, but just keep in mind that you are dealing with an
individual and none of us are the same. You are first and foremost interested in
maintaining hydration and comfort and then the calories. You do your best knowing
what you know about your child and you look for people who will work with you.
Suggestions for environmental control
Keep your dining room or the room where your child is pleasant, reduce glare
of lights, play soft and relaxing music, be organized, meal time is a period of
socializing and building trust, use a positive approach while feeding your
child, keep distraction and noise to a minimum, be sensitive to any non-verbal
communication that occurs during a meal
Basic rules for positioning – hips flexed and firmly back in chair, hips, knees
and ankles at 90 degree angles, feet supported by chair or footrest, if in a
seat, body symmetrical and straight, shoulders and arms forward – elbows
Basic rules for feeding – place a small amount of food on a spoon, place food
at the end of the spoon, do not overfill. When putting the spoon in your
child’s mouth, keep the spoon in a horizontal position, place in the middle of
his mouth – then move to the side, encourage your child to close his lips
around the spoon, never scrape food off with the teeth, allow your child time
to chew and swallow (may take 45-60 minutes for a meal)
Manual physical assistance – oral stimulation – improves applying deep
pressure with a variety of textured objects in and around the mouth. This
deep pressure applied directly over the muscles used in eating may also help
normalize muscles and jaw control (physically assisting the child’s mouth to
close): controlling from behind – place your thumb on his jaw joint to provide
a point of control and to inhibit a jaw and/or tongue thrust, place your index
fingers on his chin to assist him in jaw and lip usage, place your long finger
under the chin to prevent jaw and tongue thrusting – be careful not to choke
or gag your child; controlling from the front – place your thumb on his chin
to assist him in jaw and lip usage, place your index finger under the chin to
prevent jaw and tongue thrusting
Pumps and tubings come in pretty standard sizes and shapes, with some variation in
sophistication. There are several on the market that do not require a pole (Ross
Companion and Ross II) and which are very portable. This may be important if you
still enjoy getting out or your child is still involved in a program, since these can be
hung across the back of the wheelchair and feedings can be done while on the bus
or walking through a mall. Work with your health care provider and your Doctor to
use equipment that will be suitable for the needs of your child. Pumps have alarms
on them, become familiar with their meanings and how to respond to them.
Care Of A Feeding Tube (Gastrotomy or Jejunostomy Tube – (GT/JT)) – each
Doctor probably has there own specific guidelines for care of the tube. What is
listed below is just one possible method of treatment.
You will be taught how to care for a gastrostomy/jejunostomy (GT/JT) tube while
in the hospital or if done as an outpatient – before you go home.
 Dressing changes should be done every 1-2 days (every day initially) and
include cleansing around the tube with hydrogen peroxide, a cotton-tipped
applicator or a cotton ball works well to remove any crusting or drainage,
they need to be clean but not sterile, the hydrogen peroxide may be diluted
up to one-half strength with water – just make sure that a fresh swab is
Showers are recommended over tub baths to prevent infection at the site,
cover the dressing with a double layer of plastic wrap and tape the edges,
removing the plastic wrap and change the dressing after the shower
Activities – there should not be any restrictions
Feeding – use water to flush the tube after each feeding, use liquid forms of
medications if possible, ask your Doctor or nurse to provide you with specific
information about feedings or medications
It does not hurt to lie on the tube after the initial healing takes place – in
fact, you need to insist that some time be spent on lying prone, if at all
physically possible
Going swimming, getting in a hot tub, taking a shower and/or getting in the
bath tub is ok with a gastrostomy/jejunostomy tube (GT/JT) tube
Gastrostomy/Jejunostomy (GT/JT) Tube Site Care
Cleaning – the first week needs special attention to the dressing changes –
the incision will heal, some physicians will allow you to not have a dressing
around the tube, but it will still need to be cleaned daily
Leakage – the tube may pull away from the abdominal wall resulting in
leakage around the insertion site; it may also occur if the incision enlarges in
your child with poor nutrition, excessive tension on the tube may cause the
tube to be pulled out prematurely. Make sure that the anti reflux valve is
not sticking or is broken – it may need replaced. The tube is marked (in cm)
where it should be level with the incision and should be checked daily to
make sure it has not moved, if it does, call your Doctor and he will advise you
how to return it to its original position – some parents have said that they
had more problems with leakage when a foley was used for the
gastrostomy/jejunostomy (GT/JT) tube in children with Batten Disease
Wound infection – purulent drainage (pus) around the tube is commonly seen
but does not always represent a true infection. It may be the body’s
reaction to a foreign object, such as swelling, tenderness, redness, or
drainage of pus around the tube – if an increase in redness occurs, apply an
over the counter preparation such as Bacitracin and or Cortisone cream – if
the redness continues to extend or there is a foul smelling thick drainage
(pus), call your Doctor, clean the site more frequently for a few days, do not
Skin irritation or excoriation (abrasion of the outer skin by trauma,
chemicals, burns) is seen at the incision site apply a skin barrier for
protection via a prescription
If the tube falls out completely – call your Doctor immediately. The tube
usually can be easily replaced if it is done within 24 hours from the time it
fell out. Waiting longer could mean that a separate new tube may have to be
Secretions from the stomach irritating the skin – apply an antacid such as
Amphojel or Gelusil to prevent redness
A lot of movement of the tube, the tube has been pulled out, some bleeding –
continue to treat with hydrogen peroxide but increase the number of times
per day, use the ointments suggested
Pieces of tissue rising above the skin around the tube (granulation) – touch
gently with silver nitrate sticks (have the home health nurse or your Doctor
show you how), this cauterizes the tissue, it will turn black and then peel off,
and eventually the opening should heal flat like a belly-button
The tube being pulled in by the tugging of the stomach (peristalsis) – pull the
tube out to its proper position and secure by wrapping the tube with a piece
of tape or slitting a nipple and taping it onto the tube so that the rounded
end will pull against the skin
The tube can not be pulled back to the mark (at the cm mark) and there may
be cramps, discomfort, etc. – the tube has probably worked its way into the
small intestine, deflate the balloon (if one) using a syringe (unclamp the
tube), pull the tube back to its correct position and then re-inflate the
balloon – make so you take a magic marker and make a small mark on the tube
or look at the number of centimeters as seen at the skin level when you get
home from the hospital, check it daily for the correct position
Hissing or flow of liquid around the tube – hissing usually indicates a build up
of gas, unclamp the tube and holding it up to prevent loss of fluid allow the
gas to escape, constipation creates pressure also and can force the feeding
Specific skin problems surrounding the area can be kept to a minimum if they are
recognized early and treated effectively.
Folliculitis – which is inflamed and infected hair follicles usually caused by
the traumatic removal of tape or other products used to anchor the tube –
apply a topical antimicrobial powder and cover large lesions with nonadherent gauze or skin barrier paste and cover with a wafer, when the skin
is completely healed you can prevent the recurrence by shaving the area
Mechanical trauma – a result of abrupt stripping of tape or other adhesives,
using adhesive removers or solvents to loosen adhesives as well as gentle
removal techniques can prevent skin damage
Candidiasis – a fungal rash, can develop when skin is exposed to leakage
around the tube, patchy red rashes and itching are common, treat with a
topical antifungal powder, also remove the cause of moisture and maintain a
dry intact area around the tube
Chemical dermatitis – result of persistent leakage of stomach fluid, which is
high in caustic enzymes and gastric contents. The skin will be red, moist,
and painful. To treat the problem, you will need to correct the cause of the
leakage and apply skin barrier protective powder to absorb excess fluid
Allergic contact dermatitis – can occur when your child’s skin is sensitive to
anchoring devices, tapes, soaps, or other commercial products, the area will
appear red, swollen, eroded, weepy, or bleeding, at the first sign of
irritation, attempt to figure out what the allergen is and then remove it.
Cellulitis – is characterized by redness, erythema, intense pain, high white
blood cell count, and fever, be careful not to confuse it with a topical skin
problem, if you suspect cellulitis, call your Doctor
Different products to stabilize Gastrostomy/Jejunostomy (GT/JT) tubes
 Drain/tube attachment – provides a protective skin barrier, adhesive eliminates
the need for tape, easy application, uses clamping mechanism to keep the tube in
place, hypoallergenic, wear time 3-7 days minimum, but does protrude at some
height from the skin and is unsuitable for kids with adhesive to latex
 Elastic waistband – (gastrostomy - GT tube holder) – re-usable, one-time
expense, adjustable, latex-free, eliminates discomfort and irritation caused by
tape or adhesive-backed holders, but provides no absorbency at the
gastrostomy (GT) tube insertion site
 Baby bottle nipple, 4 x 4 gauze, tape – inexpensive, readily available, easily
applied, simply cut the end off of the nipple and slide it over the tube until the
base is seated against the body, a split 4 x 4 (or cut a regular gauze pad 2-3
inches to slip around the tube) and tape to hold it in place but it does protrude
at some height from the skin and unsuitable for some kids who may be allergic
to tapes or latex sensitivities
 Semi permeable foam dressing and tape – highly absorbent, non-adherent, wear
time 2-3 days but is unsuitable for patients who may be allergic to tapes
 Catheter tube holder – easily applied, tube can be repositioned but are variable
wear time, no skin protection at insertion site, unsuitable for kids who may be
allergic to tapes
Abdominal binder – if your child has active hands and there is an increase of
pulling the tube out, a binder would cover the entire abdomen and protect the
tube and you may also want to use one of the holder’s with the binder, but you
need to assess the skin under the binder frequently
You can also a safety pin - put a piece of tape around the
gastrostomy/jejunostomy (GT/JT) tubes, make it long enough so you can insert
a safety pin to it and pin it to your child’s nightgown or clothing
Different devices as discussed in this section
Common tube feeding problems and what to do: this first group are
symptoms that will require more immediate attention followed by those that do not:
 Respiratory distress – call for help, initiate emergency plan
 Color changes or changes in breathing – may be caused by increased airway
secretions, may need suctioning or increase in suctioning. Stop the feeding
immediately, check the tube for placement, assess for other problems –
possibility of aspiration may have occurred, and follow your child’s specific
guidelines set for him/her
 Color changes or changes in breathing when the feeding is not in progress –
check for tube placement and assess for other problems
 Gagging/choking – most likely improper placement of tube
 If tube falls out – cover stoma (opening) and call family, school nurse, home
health nurse and/or Doctor, the tube may need reinserted immediately if
the tract closes quickly
 Diarrhea – cause may be too rapid feeding, too concentrated formula,
intolerance to formula or medications – if diarrhea occurs, administer small,
frequent, less concentrated feedings, make sure the tube feeding is not cold
and that proper storage and sanitation procedures have been followed, Skin
care may be necessary around perineal area depending on severity of
diarrhea slow the feeding/flow rate, dilute the formula with water, gradually
increase concentration over 3-5 days, may want to administer Reglan
(Metopromide) to increase gastrointestinal (GI) motility if OK with your
Doctor, warm the formula, for 30 minutes after feeding, position your child
on his right side with his head elevated to facilitate gastric emptying, Call
your Doctor – he may want to reduce the amount of formula being given
during each feeding
 Cramping – formula may be too cold, tube in the wrong place, too fast
feeding – use a formula at room temperature
 Constipation – inadequate fluid provided, low fiber diet, lack of activity –
wash down all feedings with water, provide additional feedings of water if
tolerated or prune juice; administer bulk laxatives; fruit, vegetable, or sugar
content of feeding may be increased; consult your Doctor if constipation
continues for more than 3 days
 Vomiting – too rapid feedings, tube too large, improper tube placement, large
residual in stomach (remove residuals as ordered), formula too concentrated,
medications given with feeding – slow the feeding; use smaller sized tube;
reposition; monitor electrolyte levels if large amounts or continued vomiting,
be sure to check your child’s specific guidelines, call your Doctor – he may
want to adjust formula content, to correct deficiency, check for other
problems which may contribute to vomiting
Nausea – during feeding may indicate delayed gastric emptying, stomach
distention, temperature of formula too cold, infusing too fast, – stop the
feeding, resume feeding when nausea subsides
Gastrointestinal reflux – large residual in stomach, physiologic problem –
elevate head before, during, and 30 minutes after feeding, thickened
feedings, and/or giving medications
Someone on continuous tube feedings can be in a state of chronic
dehydration – make sure they get enough extra fluids
Suctioning can cause depletion of electrolytes in the body adding to
Aspiration of gastric secretions – discontinue feeding immediately; perform
suctioning (nasally or tracheally) of aspirated contents, if possible; notify
your Doctor – prophylactic antibiotics and chest physiotherapy may be
ordered,; check tube placement before feeding to prevent complication
Tube obstruction – maybe due to inadequate flushing of the tube or very
thick liquids (formulas) - flush tube with warm water or cranberry juice, if
necessary, replace tube; flush tube with 50 ml of water after each feeding
to remove excess sticky formula, which could occlude the tube
Nasal or pharyngeal irritation or necrosis (injury or death of tissue) –
provide frequent oral hygiene, using mouthwash or lemon and glycerin swabs,
use Vaseline on cracked lips; change position of tube, if necessary, replace
Redness, irritation, bleeding, drainage – check to be sure tubing is not being
“tugged or pulled”, may be leakage of stomach contents; check to be sure
stoma (opening) is clean – could also be a leakage of food issue; food and
medications coming in direct contact with skin; refer to child’s specific
guidelines; call the family, nurse and Doctor
Hyperglycemia – (blood sugar levels increased due to high content of sugars
in tube feeding formulas – monitor blood glucose levels; notify Doctor of
elevated levels; administer insulin if ordered; Doctor may change formula to
correct the sugar content
Congestive heart failure – (increase of fluid in the lungs or swelling noted in
the legs usually first then the arms) monitor your child’s intake and output
and respiratory status; reduce flow rate; call your Doctor; administer
diuretics as ordered; decrease your child’s fluid intake and enforce bed rest
One of the biggest problems why your child may be nauseated or begin to
vomit, you might be over feeding your child. Sometimes, Doctors tell you to
give your child too much formula. You know your child best. Just because
the Doctor initially says to give your child 6 cans of formula a day – if he
starts vomiting – try reducing the number of feedings or the amount of each
feeding and see if the vomiting dissipates
Monitor blood and urine glucose (sugar) levels to assess glucose tolerance –
monitor serum electrolytes and other blood studies to determine response
to therapy
Assess dehydration - may cause constipation – increase fluid intake, may
need laxatives or enema
Bloating and retention – may be caused by frequent and large volume of
feeding at one time
Metabolic disturbances – can be caused by dehydration, diarrhea, or
Glycosuria, cramping, abdominal distention indicate intolerance of feedings
Dumping Syndrome -Definition of dumping syndrome is when the stomach
contents empties too rapidly into the intestines causing symptoms. If the
tube is placed directly into the jejunum (Jtube), the chance of dumping
syndrome is increased due to the fact of the food already entering the body
directly into the small intestine, and then the food goes too rapidly through
the intestine where most of the absorption of nutrients takes place.
What causes dumping syndrome? After a gastrostomy tube (Gtube) or a
Jejunostomy tube (Jtube) is inserted or your child might have any other
kind of stomach surgery, food and fluids which the stomach can no longer
store, enters the small intestine in large quantities and at an abnormally
fast rate. In an attempt to accommodate this sudden on rush, large
amounts of fluids are drawn from the vascular system into the bowel. As a
result, the jejunum distends with foods and fluids and intestinal peristalsis
and motility increase. This produces intestinal symptoms.
The major symptoms your child may experience with dumping syndrome will
include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, pallor, sweating,
pale skin, and fainting. It can then be broken down into two main
 Early dumping syndrome – which may be mild to severe, occurs a few
minutes after eating and lasts up to 45 minutes. Onset is sudden with
nausea, weakness, sweating, palpitations, dizziness, flushing, borborygmi
(increased, hyperactive, intestinal peristalsis heard when you listen to
bowel sounds of the abdomen – usually intense and episodic) , explosive
diarrhea, and increased blood pressure and pulse rate
 Late dumping syndrome – which is less serious, occurs 2-3 hours after
eating. Similar symptoms include profuse sweating, anxiety, fine
tremors of the hands and legs accompanied by vertigo, exhaustion,
lassitude (weariness), palpitations, throbbing headache, faintness,
sensation of hunger, glycosuria, and marked decrease in blood pressure
and blood sugar
These symptoms may persist for a short period or for many years.
To minimize or eliminate dumping syndrome, teach your child or learn as
 Eat 4-6 meals per day
 Maintain normal intake of foods containing fat and protein; they leave
the stomach more slowly and attract less fluid into the intestine
 Avoid foods with concentrated carbohydrates and salt; they tend to
attract more fluid into the intestine
 Avoid or limit foods high in fiber such as fresh fruits and vegetables
and whole grain breads
 Avoid drinking fluids with meals to decrease the fluid in the
intestine; drink fluids in between meals
 Avoid very hot or cold foods/liquids
 Lie down for 20-30 minutes up to a hour after eating
 Take anticholinergics to decrease motility and acid secretion and
antispasmodics to slow intestinal motility if ordered ( instruct to take
30 minutes to 1 hour before meals)
 Chew food thoroughly
 Try to avoid extra stress for your child by balancing activity and rest
 If your child has a gastrostomy/jejunostomy (GT/JT) and develops
dumping syndrome, smaller, more frequent feedings and a longer
period of post insertion (of the tube) adjustment may alleviate the
problem. This syndrome seems to result from sudden duodenal or
jejunal distention and rapid shifting of body fluids to make the
intestinal contents isotonic (which means a balance in the pH of the
fluids in the intestines)
If the formula is backing up and you are sure the entire formula feeding tube is
above stomach level
 Raise the IV pole
 Change the position of the tubing
 Change your child’s position – should be in an upright position during the
feeding and for 30-60 minutes after the feeding, if a continuous feeding,
your child should have their head elevated at all times to prevent aspiration,
which can occur following vomiting which could lead to pneumonia or lifethreatening asphyxiation (watch for gagging, frothy or foamy white sputum,
rapid pulse and respirations and/or any other signs of respiratory distress)
 Rinse the feeding tube with warm water, room temperature cranberry juice
or coke
Inevitably there will be drips and leaks on the floor – clean the floor drips
away as quickly as possible, especially carpet, as an odor can develop and the
feeding fluid can stain – a suggestion is to put a piece of plastic or a rug with
a backing on it under where the bag with the formula is to be able to wipe it
up from there or throw a towel, rug in the washer
Tube blockage is often caused by the build up of formula residual in the
lumen (internal space or opening that exists within the gastrostomy tube) –
it can be prevented with the routine practice of flushing the tube after
every use – if blockage occurs irrigate the tube with plenty of water, be
careful not to use excessive force because the tube could rupture, milking
the tube may help dislodge a clog
If the tube is found out of the stoma or comes out of the stoma during a
feeding, cover the stoma with sterile gauze pads, tape securely and call your
health care nurse or Physician
If your tube has a balloon in it, the balloon sometimes may rupture or the
water inside the balloon may slowly leak out to where the tube may fall out.
Periodically check to make sure that there is an adequate amount of water in
the balloon by hooking a syringe on the end of the port and measuring the
amount of water in the balloon. Usually, there are two sizes of balloons – a
5cc and a 30 cc balloon. Just remember, if you take the water out of the
balloon for measurement, hang on to the tube at the skin level , so it does
not fall out
Check policies on changing a tube periodically, (mark on a calendar when the
next date to change the tube will be) to prevent erosion of esophagus,
trachea or nasal passages – if possible, use the newer, smaller lumen tubes
to prevent such irritation
Common causes of feeding tube obstructions and how to prevent the problem
 A tube can become blocked or obstructed just because the tube is not
flushed adequately enough following feedings or giving medications
 Tubing or delivery set kinked – examine the feeding tube and delivery
system regularly to ensure that it’s stabilized, it’s anchored properly, and it
has no kinks or twisted tubing
 A tube in the abdomen, whether it be a percutaneous endoscopic
gastrostomy (Peg), a regular gastrostomy (GT), or a jejunostomy (JT) tube
with the bumper becoming embedded – make sure the tube rotates freely, if
the tube is immobile, call your Physician
 Inadequate or infrequent flushing of the feeding tube; formula residue
adhering to the tube lumen – institute a routine flushing protocol, flush the
tube with 30 cc’s of warm water every 4 hours during continuous feeding or
before and after intermittent feedings
Administration of inadequately crushed and dissolved pills – ask the
pharmacist if a liquid form is available and appropriate, call your Physician to
discuss any possible changes in medication
Administration of viscous formula (those with higher calorie content or
containing fiber) or medication, particularly medications known to cause
clogging such as Antacids, Psyllium (Metamucil) or Sucralfate (Carafate) –
flush the tube with 30 cc’s of water before giving medications, give each
medication separately and flush with 10 cc’s of water between each, flush
the tube with 30cc’s of water after you have given all medications, do not
add medications directly to the feeding bag or container of formula, consult
a nutritionist to evaluate the type of formula being administered
Incompatibility between the formula and medications or incompatibility of
medications given in the same syringe – consult your pharmacist to evaluate
for incompatibilities, give medications as described above
Formula coagulating when coming in contact with gastric secretions – flush
the tube with 30cc’s of water before and after checking residual volumes
Giving feeding by gravity (especially continuously) – consider using a pump to
administer feeding if gravity feedings result in obstruction, some pumps
automatically flush the tube
Small tube lumen – flush routinely (every 4 hours) to avoid clogging small
bore tubes tend to clog more easily
Bacteria contaminating the formula leading to coagulation – wash your hands
before handling the feeding equipment and minimize handling the formula,
discard expired product, change the delivery system every 24 hours (or per
manufacturers recommendation), follow recommended hang times for
formula, store unopened cans of formula in a cool, dry place, mark opened
cans of formula with date time and refrigerate, discard unused canned
formula after 48 hours, refrigerate formula that is in powder form and
reconstituted with water, discard unused reconstituted formula after 24
hours, do not dilute formula
Yeast forming in the tube – observe for changes in the tube, such as dark
discoloration, opaque tube, or nodules in the tube, an occluded tube probably
will need to be replaced, call your Physician
Squeeze or roll the tube with fingers moving slowly down toward child’s
stomach. Try a catheter-tipped syringe filled with warm water, hold high to
facilitate movement of fluid. Try to draw back on plunger of syringe. If
blockage remains, consult family, nurse, and Doctor
 Tube feeding sheet – to be completed after each feeding and indicate the
date. time feeding began, rate, type and amount of feeding, and the flush,
skin care, tube placement check and residual check
Intake/output record – as indicated
Weight record – weigh as ordered
Vital signs sheet – as indicated
Bowel movement chart/daily monitoring record
Communication book – as indicated
Notes – include events that occurred such as – any time a continuous pump
feeding is shut off and the time that it is turned back on. Observation for
placement and color/amount of aspirations, child’s response (how tolerated),
gastrostomy site care and mouth care, other observations such as more than
allowed amount of residual volume, distention and/or discomfort during
feeding, vomiting or diarrhea, any other unusual symptom for this particular
I have at times duplicated specific statements in this book on the gastrointestinal
system, but I feel it important enough to mention more than once. We sometimes
are reading quickly and miss some points, but if we see it again, it gets our
attention. Also, I have included specific issues for we as adults that our children
can also have problems in the same areas.
Abdominal aorta – the portion of the descending aorta that passes from the aortic
hiatus of the diaphragm into the abdomen, descending ventrally (anterior) to the
vertebral column, and ending at the fourth lumbar vertebrae, where it divides into
the two common iliac (and then into the femoral artery in the groin) arteries. It
supplies blood to many different parts of the body
Abduction – movement of a limb away from the body
Abscess – a cavity containing pus and surrounded by inflamed tissue, formed as a
result of suppuration (the process of pus formation) in a localized infection, healing
usually occurs when the abscess is drained or is incised (lanced/cut)
Acetone – a colorless, aromatic, liquid found in small amounts in the urine and in
larger quantities in the urine of diabetics
Acetylcholine – an acidic acid ester of choline, normally present in the body. It has
important physiologic functions and is a neurotransmitter at the myoneural junction
(pertaining to a muscle and its associated nerve)
Achalasia – an abnormal condition characterized by the inability of a muscle to
relax, particularly the cardiac sphincter of the stomach
Acid-Base Balance – a condition existing when the net rate at which the body
produces acids or bases equals the net rate at which acids or bases are excreted.
The result of acid base balance is a stable concentration of hydrogen ions in the
body fluids which is referred to as the pH mad the concentration of oxygen and
carbon dioxide
Adduction – movement of a limb toward the body
Adhesions – a band of scar tissue that binds together two anatomical surfaces,
which are normally separate from each other. Adhesions are most commonly found
in the abdomen when they form following abdominal surgery, inflammation, or
injury. A loop of intestines may adhere to unhealed areas and cause an intestinal
obstruction if scar tissue develops and constricts the lumen (diameter) of the
bowel, blocking the intestinal flow. The condition is characterized by abdominal
pain, distention, nausea, vomiting, and an increase in pulse rate, without a rise in
temperature. Inserting a NG (nasogastric tube) and suction may relieve the
blockage, if not, surgery may be necessary to separate the adhering surfaces
Adipose – fatty, adipose tissue is composed of fat cells arranged in soft lobes
Adrenal gland – either of two secretory organs perched atop the kidneys. Each
consists of two parts having independent functions: the cortex and the medulla.
The adrenal cortex secretes cortisol and androgens (in response to
adrenocorticotropic hormones secreted by the anterior pituitary). Adrenal
androgens serve as precursors that are converted by the liver to testosterone and
estrogens. Renin from the kidney controls adrenal cortical production of
aldosterone. The adrenal medulla manufactures the catecholamines epinephrine and
Adrenal Insufficiency – this disease is the result of chronic adrenal cortical
insufficiency called Addison’s disease, brought about by an invasion of the cortex
by chronic infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis or fungus diseases. Commonly
idiopathic atrophy (shrinkage) of the adrenals is the cause. Signs and symptoms
include: increased pigmentation of the skin, weakness, fatigue, hypotension (low
blood pressure), nausea, vomiting, anorexia, weight loss, and occasional hypoglycemia
(low blood sugar)
Afferent – proceeding toward a center, as applied to arteries, veins, lymphatics,
and nerves
Alkaline – a compound with the chemical characteristics of a base instead of an
acid. Alkaline solutions combine with fatty acids to form soaps, turn red litmus
paper blue, and enter into reactions that form water-soluble carbonates
Amenorrhea – the absence of menstruation, may be caused by dysfunction of the
pituitary gland (in the brain), hypothalamus (in the brain), ovary, uterus, by the
congenital absence or surgical removal of both ovaries and the uterus, or by
Anal – of or pertaining to the rectum, the portion of the large intestine
approximately 4-5 inches long, continuous with the descending sigmoid colon
(intestine) which ends at the anal canal and the opening to the outside of the body
Anal stenosis – one of several congenital, developmental malformations of the
rectal portion of the gastrointestinal tract, the opening to the anal canal is small
and could lead to an obstruction, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem
Anemia – a disorder characterized by a decrease in hemoglobin (red blood cells) in
the blood levels below the normal range, according to the pathophysiological
classification, anemia is a reflection of any one or more of three basic processes:
decreased hemoglobin or red blood cell production, increased red blood cell
destruction, or blood loss. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, exertional dyspnea,
dizziness, headache, insomnia, and pallor; anorexia, dyspepsia, palpitations,
tachycardia, cardiac dilatation and systolic murmurs may also occur. If anemia
occurs, you need to be aware of adequate diet to supply blood building components,
adequate rest, adequate time for recovery, and repeated blood tests to evaluate
the progress of therapy. You also need to be alerted to signs of blood loss should
there occur again and if transfusions are given, to be aware of blood (transfusion)
Anorexia – loss of appetite, resulting in the ability to eat, the condition may result
from poorly prepared food or unattractive surroundings, unfavorable company, or
psychological causes, which may lead to prolonged refusal to eat, resulting in
emaciation (excessive leanness caused by disease or lack of nutrition), amenorrhea
(absence of monthly menstrual periods), emotional disturbance concerning body
Antacids – opposing acidity, a drug or dietary substance that buffers, neutralizes
or absorbs hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Most antacids are not absorbed
systemically. Antacids containing aluminum or calcium are constipating; those
containing magnesium have a laxative effect
Antibacterial or antimicrobial - of or pertaining to a substance that kills bacteria
or inhibits their growth or replication, an antibacterial agent, antibiotics
synthesized chemically or derived from various microorganisms exert their
bactericidal or bacteriostatic effect by interfering with the production of the
bacterial cell wall, by interfering with protein synthesis, nucleic acid synthesis, or
cell membrane integrity, or by inhibiting critical biosynthetic pathways in the
Anticholinergics – of or pertaining to a blockade of acetylcholine receptors, which
results in the inhibition of the transmission of parasympathetic nerve impulses.
This group of drugs reduces spasms of smooth muscle in the bladder, bronchi, and
intestine; relax the iris sphincter; decrease perspiration; and accelerate impulse
conduction through the myocardium (heart muscle) by blocking vagal impulses; can
also reduce Parkinsonian symptoms. This group of drugs can also be used to treat
spastic disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, to reduce salivary and bronchial
secretions preoperatively, or to dilate the pupil
Anticoagulant toxicity – an anticoagulant pertains to a substance that prevents or
delays coagulation of the blood. If there is toxicity, that means that there is too
much of the anticoagulant and the blood will be too thin and can cause bleeding,
usually of the nose, stomach, kidneys, or intestines, in which case, immediate
treatment would need to be initiated
Antidiarrheal – medications or foods that help stop or slow down diarrhea
Antihypertensive – of or pertaining to a substance or procedure that reduces blood
pressure, diuretics can cause a decrease in blood pressure by decreasing blood
Antiinflammatory – of or pertaining to a substance or procedure that counteracts
or reduces inflammation by killing the bacteria (infection)
Antispasmodics – a group of medications that control or prevent an involuntary
muscle contraction of sudden onset, as habit spasms, hiccups, stuttering, or a tic, a
convulsion or seizure, a sudden transient constriction of a blood vessel, bronchus,
esophagus, pylorus, ureter, or other hollow organ
Apathy – an absence or suppression of emotion, feeling, concern, or passion, an
indifference to things generally found to be exciting or moving. The condition is
commonly seen in patients with neurosis or schizophrenia
Aspiration – the act of taking a breath, inhaling into the lungs, the act of
withdrawing a fluid, as in mucus or serum from the body by a suction device
Asymptomatic – without having any symptoms
Atrophy - a wasting or diminution of size or physiological activity of a part of the
body owing to disease or other influences. A skeletal muscle may undergo atrophy
because of lack of physical exercise or as a result of neurological or
musculoskeletal disease. Cells of the brain and central nervous system may atrophy
(shrink) in old age because of restricted blood flow to those areas
Attention Deficit Disorder – a syndrome affecting children, adolescents, and
rarely adults, characterized by learning and behavior disabilities. The symptoms
may be mild or severe and are associated with functional deviations of the central
nervous system without signs of major neurological or psychiatric disturbance. The
people affected are usually of normal or above average intelligence. Symptoms
include impairment in perception, conceptualization (the process of creating an idea
or notion), language, memory, and motor skills, decreased attention span, increased
impulsivity and emotional lability (unstable), and usually but not always,
hyperactivity. The condition is 10 times more prevalent in boys than in girls and
may result from genetic factors, biochemical irregularities, or prenatal injury or
disease. There is no known cure, and symptoms often subside or disappear with
time. Medication is frequently prescribed for children with hyperactive symptoms,
and some form of psychotherapeutic counseling is often recommended
Auscultation – the act of listening for sounds within the body to evaluate the
condition of the heart, lungs, pleura, intestines, or other organs or to detect the
fetal heart sound (during pregnancy). Auscultation may be performed directly, but
most commonly, a stethoscope is used to determine the frequency, intensity,
duration, and quality of the sounds
Autonomic Nervous System – the part of the nervous system that regulates
involuntary vital function, including the activity of the cardiac muscle, smooth
muscle, and the glands. It has two divisions: the sympathetic nervous system
accelerates heart rate, constricts blood vessels, and raises blood pressure; the
parasympathetic nervous system slows heart rate, increases intestinal peristalsis
and gland activity, and relaxes sphincters (a circular band of muscle fibers that
constricts a passage or closes a natural opening of the body)
Aversion – a form of behavior therapy in which punishment or unpleasant or painful
stimuli, like electric shock or drugs that induce nausea, are used in the suppression
of undesirable behavior. The procedure is used in such conditions as drug abuse,
alcoholism, gambling, overeating, or smoking
Bacteria – any of a small unicellular microorganism – may be spherical (cocci), rodshaped (bacilli), spiral (spirochetes), or comma-shaped (vibrios). The nature,
severity, and outcome of any infection caused by a bacterium are characterized of
that species
Barium – is used as a contrast medium (to help visualize) in radiography of the
gastrointestinal tract as a barium swallow to evaluate the upper portion of the GI
tract or a barium enema to evaluate the lower portion of the intestinal tract
Bile – a bitter, yellowish-green secretion of the liver, stored in the gallbladder; bile
receives its color from the presence of bile pigments, as bilirubin. Bile passes from
the gallbladder through the common bile duct in response to the presence of a
fatty meal in the duodenum. Bile emulsifies (liquefies) these fats, preparing them
for further digestion and absorption in the small intestine. Any interference in the
flow of bile will result in the presence of unabsorbed fat in the stool and in jaundice
(yellow color to the skin, or eyes)
Bilirubin – the orange yellow pigment of bile, formed principally by the breakdown
of hemoglobin in red blood cells after termination of their normal lifespan. Watersoluble, unconjugated bilirubin, normally travels in the blood stream to the liver,
where it is converted to a water-soluble, conjugated form and excreted into the
bile. In a healthy person the majority of bile produced is excreted in the stool.
The characteristic yellow pallor of jaundice is caused by the accumulation of
bilirubin in the blood and in the tissues of the skin. Testing for bilirubin in the
blood provides valuable information for diagnosing and evaluating liver disease,
biliary obstruction, or anemia
Biopsy – the removal of a small piece of living tissue from an organ or other part of
the body for microscopic examination to confirm or establish a diagnosis, estimate
prognosis, or follow the course of a disease
Bolus – a dose of a medication or a contrast material, radioactive isotope, injected
orally or intravenously to be used in evaluating or diagnosing; a bolus of food ready
to be swallowed; or as a feeding by the bolus method
Botulism – an often fatal form of food poisoning caused by a toxin (a poison) – it
differs from most other forms of food poisoning in that it develops without gastric
distress and may not occur for from 18 hours to 1 week after the contaminated
food has been ingested. Symptoms may include by a period of lassitude (weariness,
exhaustion) and fatigue followed by visual disturbances, as double vision, difficulty
in focusing of the eyes, and loss of ability of the pupil to accommodate to light.
Muscles may become weak, and the patient often develops dysphagia (difficulty in
swallowing). Nausea and vomiting occur in less than half of the cases.
Hospitalization is required and antitoxins are administered. Sedatives are given,
mainly to reduce anxiety. Approximately two thirds of the cases are fatal, usually
because of respiratory complications. For those who survive, recovery is slow
Bradycardia – an abnormal circulatory condition in which the heart muscle
contracts steadily, but at a heart rate that is slow, usually below 60 beats per
minute. The heart rate is usually slower during sleep, and in those who are
physically fit, the pulse rate may be extremely slow (40-50 beats per minute).
Symptoms include: the cardiac output (the amount of blood that is pushed through
the circulatory system with each beat) is decreased causing faintness, dizziness,
chest pain, and eventually syncope (lightheadedness which may result in fainting),
and circulatory collapse. Treatment will include the administration of Atropine to
stimulate the heart rate to increase, implantation of a pacemaker, or it may be due
to medication such as Digoxin
Bronchiectasis – an abnormal condition of the bronchial tree, characterized by
irreversible dilatation and destruction of the bronchial walls. The condition is
sometimes congenital, but it is more often a result of bronchial infection or of
obstruction by a tumor or an aspirated foreign body. Symptoms include a constant
cough production of copious (large amount) purulent (pus) sputum, hemoptysis
(coughing up of blood from the lungs), chronic sinusitis, clubbing of the fingers, and
persistent moist, coarse rales (fluid in the lungs). Complications include pneumonia,
lung abscess, empyema (pus in the lining around the lungs), and brain abscess.
Treatment includes frequent postural drainage, antibiotics, and rarely surgical
resection of the affected part of the lung
Bulbous – bulb-shaped, swollen, terminating in an enlargement
Bulky – used as in bulky foods, roughage, to add bulk to the stool for
gastrointestinal function, as in colon transit time, water absorption, and fat
Calculus – a pathological stone formed by mineral salts, calculi are usually found
within hollow organs or ducts and can cause obstruction and inflammation. Kinds of
calculi include gallbladder stones or kidney stones
Cardiac – of or pertaining to the heart. Possibly heart disease or heart muscle
Cardiovascular – of or pertaining to the heart and the blood vessels of the heart –
an evaluation of the condition, function, and abnormalities of the heart and
circulatory system. The cardiovascular system pumps and conveys the blood
throughout the body – numerous control mechanisms of the system assure that the
blood is delivered to the structures where it is most needed and at the proper rate.
The system delivers nutrients and other essential materials to the fluids
surrounding the cells and removes waste products which are conveyed to excretory
(wastes) organs as the kidneys and intestines
Caustic enzyme – an agent that is corrosive (an agent that eats away at a tissue)
and burning and that will destroy living tissue
Cecum – a cul-de-sac (blind pouch) constituting the first part of the large
intestine, located below the entrance of the ileum (the lower portion of the small
intestine), usually where the appendix is located
Cellulitis – an infection of the skin characterized most commonly by local heat,
redness, pain, swelling, 0ccassionally fever, malaise (weakness), chills, and headache.
Abscess and tissue destruction usually follow if antibiotics are not taken. Damaged
skin, poor circulation, and diabetes favor the development of cellulitis (an infection
of the skin – will see redness, swelling, heat at the site). Treatment, in addition to
appropriate antibiotics, includes warm soaks and avoidance of pressure of the
affected areas
Central Nervous System – CNS - of the two main divisions of the nervous system
of the body, consisting of the brain and the spinal cord. The CNS processes
information to and from the peripheral nervous system and is the main network of
coordination and control the entire body. The brain controls many functions and
sensations. As sleep, muscular movement, hunger, thirst, memory, and the emotions.
The spinal cord extends various types of nerve fibers from the brain and acts as a
switching and relay terminal for the peripheral nervous system. The 12 pairs of
cranial nerves emerge directly from the brain. Sensory nerves and motor nerves of
the peripheral system leave the spinal cord separately between the vertebrae but
unite to form 31 pairs of spinal nerves containing sensory fibers and motor fibers
Cheek biting – usually seen in neurological cases when the patient does not realize
that they are doing it. Small bites located on the insides of the lips that become
sore, may bleed, and usually slows eating due to the discomfort
Chemoreceptor trigger – a sensory nerve cell activated by chemical stimuli as a
chemoreceptor in the carotid (main artery that goes to the brain – one on either
side) that is sensitive to the PCO2 (carbon dioxide) in the blood, signaling the
respiratory center in the brain to increase or decrease respiration
Cholecystitis – acute or chronic inflammation of the gallbladder. Acute
cholecystitis is usually caused by a gallstone that cannot pass through the cystic
Cholecystokinin – a hormone produced by the mucosa of the upper intestine, which
stimulates contraction of the gallbladder and the secretion of pancreatic enzymes
Cholelithiasis – the presence of gallstones in the gallbladder. The condition causes
unlocalized abdominal discomfort, eructation (belching) and intolerance to certain
foods, or no symptoms at all. In patients with severe attacks, cholecystectomy
(removal of the gallbladder) is recommended to prevent such complications as
cholecystitis (acute or chronic inflammation), cholangitis (inflammation of the bile
ducts), and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreatitis)
Cholesterol – a fat-soluble crystalline steroid alcohol found in animal fats, oils, egg
yolk, and widely distributed in the body, especially in the bile, blood, brain tissue,
liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, and myelin sheaths (containing fatty laminations) of
nerve fibers. It facilitates the absorption and transport of fatty acids, acts for
the synthesis of Vitamin D at the skin surface, and facilitates the synthesis of
various steroid hormones, including adrenal cortisols. Cholesterol is the chief
element in most gallstones. Increased levels of serum cholesterol may be
associated with the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
Chronic – of a disease or disorder: developing slowly and persisting for a long
period of time, often for the remainder of a lifetime of the patient
Chyme – the viscous, semi fluid contents of the stomach present during digestion
of a meal. It then passes through the pylorus (the portion of the lower stomach
just before it enters into the small intestine) into the duodenum (the shortest,
widest and most fixed portion of the small intestine), where further digestion
Cirrhosis – a chronic degenerative disease of the liver in which the lobes are
covered with fibrous tissue, the parenchyma (the tissue of an organ as
distinguished from supporting or connective tissue) degenerates, and the lobules
are infiltrated with fat. Functions of the liver deteriorate, blood flow through the
liver is obstructed, causing back pressure and leading to portal hypertension (an
increased venous pressure associated with the liver) and esophageal varices (a
dilated vein in the esophagus). Unless the cause of the disease is removed, hepatic
coma (liver), gastrointestinal hemorrhage and kidney failure will eventually occur.
Symptoms of cirrhosis include nausea, flatulence (gas), anorexia, weight loss, and
ascites (abdomen filling up with fluid caused by the livers inability to process the
amount of fluids it normally did). Light colored stools, weakness, abdominal pain,
varicosities (an abnormal condition, usually of a vein, characterized by swelling and
twisting), and spider angiomas (small clumped areas of blood and lymph vessels).
Definite diagnosis is made by biopsy, but x-ray, physical examination, and several
blood tests of liver function are preformed to monitor the course of the disease.
Treatment usually includes a balanced diet (rich in proteins as can be tolerated),
vitamins (especially folic acid), and rest. The liver has remarkable ability to
regenerate, but recovery may be very slow
Clubbing of the fingers – an abnormal enlargement of the distal phalanges (fingers
and toes), usually associated with cyanotic heart disease, but sometimes because of
cirrhosis, colitis, chronic dysentery (an inflammation of the intestine, especially of
the colon, that may be caused by chemical irritants, bacteria or parasites,
characterized by frequent and bloody stools, abdominal pain, and tenesmus – spasms
of the bowel or bladder, accompanied by the desire to empty the bowel or
bladder)), the mechanism whereby diminished oxygen tension in the blood causes
clubbing is not understood. It occurs in all digits but most easily seen in the
Cognitive function – an intellectual process by which one becomes aware of,
perceives, or comprehends ideas. It involves all aspects of perception, thinking,
reasoning, and remembering
Colic – sharp visceral pain resulting from torsion (the process of twisting or turning
away from the normal position – it may be positive – clockwise or negative – counter
clockwise), obstruction, or smooth muscle spasm of a hollow or tubular organ, as a
ureter (kidney) or the intestines (stool)
Collagen – a substance consisting of bundles of tiny reticular fibrils (having a
netlike pattern or structure of veins), which combine to form the white, glistening,
inelastic fibers of the tendons, ligaments, and the fascia (the fibrous connective
tissue of the body that may be separated from other specifically organized
structures, as the tendons and ligaments)
Colonic – relating to the colon or the large intestine
Colonic inertia – an abnormal condition characterized by a general inactivity or
sluggishness of the lower intestine
Colonies – in bacteriology: a mass of microorganisms in a culture that originates
from a single cell. Some kinds of colonies, according to different configurations
are smooth, rough or dwarf colonies; in biology, a mass of cells in a culture or in
certain experimental tissues, as a spleen colony
Colonoscopy – examination of the upper portion of the rectum with an elongated
speculum (an instrument for examining canals as in the colon or large intestine)
Colostomy – surgical creation of an artificial rectum on the abdominal wall by
incising the colon and bringing it out to the surface of the abdomen for stool to be
excreted as waste
Complex partial seizure – symptoms include a change in awareness, confused,
dream-like, usually unable to respond appropriately to questions or commands, often
performs unusual behaviors such as fumbling, picking at clothes, grunting, or
repeating words or phrases, chewing, tasting, or swallowing movements, may also
scream, run, or some other dramatic behavior. They usually last from 30 seconds to
3 minutes. The person may have an aura which would tell him that a seizure may be
coming, or a partial seizure may develop into generalized seizures
Conduit – a urinary suprapubic or conduit where the ureter is brought out from the
bladder to the surface of the abdomen for the urine to be collected in a bag
Congenital Anomalies - any abnormality present at birth, particularly a structural
one, which may be inherited genetically, acquired during gestation, or inflicted
during parturition (birth), also called birth defect
Congestive heart failure – CHF - an abnormal condition characterized by
circulatory congestion caused by cardiac disorders, especially myocardial infarction
of the ventricles (a heart attack). This condition usually develops chronically in
association with the retention of sodium (salt) and water by the kidneys. If the
right heart pump becomes defective, you will see swelling of the lower legs first
then it will eventually creep up to the thighs, if the left heart pump becomes
defective, you will see lung congestion (increased shortness of breath, fluid in the
lungs). Treatment includes prolonged rest, administration of oxygen, medications
such as Digoxin (to slow the heart rate down and to give each beat a more forceful
push), diuretics such as Lasix, and vasodilators to reduce blood pressure
Conjunctiva – the mucous membrane lining the inner surfaces of the eyelids and
anterior part of the sclera (white part of the eye)
Consistency – being able to be consistent in giving feedings, medications, doing
dressings, turning your child every one to two hours, etc., the same time each day
Contractures – an abnormal, usually permanent condition of a joint, characterized
by flexion (a movement allowed by certain joints of the skeleton that decreases the
angle between two adjoining bones as bending the wrist) and fixation (a muscle that
acts to hold a part of the body in appropriate position) and caused by atrophy and
shortening of muscle fibers or by loss of the normal elasticity of the skin, as from
the formation of extensive scar tissue over a joint
Cornea – the convex, transparent, anterior part of the eye, comprising one sixth of
the outermost tunic (an investing membrane) of the eye bulb. It is a fibrous
structure with five layers; it is dense, uniform in thickness, nonvascular, and
projects like a dome beyond the sclera, which forms the other five sixths of the
eye’s most outermost tunic
Corticosteroids – any one of the natural or synthetic (manmade) hormones
associated with the adrenal cortex, which influences or controls key processes of
the body, as carbohydrate and protein metabolism, electrolyte and water balance,
and the functions of the cardiovascular system, skeletal muscle, kidneys, and other
organs. The corticosteroids synthesized by the adrenal glands include the
glucocorticoids, the mineral corticoids, and the adrenogenital corticoids. The
principle glucocorticoid is cortisol; also known as hydrocortisone, the mineral
corticoid is aldosterone and the adrenogenital corticoids are androgen, estrogen
and progesterone. Cortisol and its synthetic analogs can prevent or reduce
inflammation by inhibiting edema, leukocytic (white blood cells) migration,
disposition of collagen (a substance which combine to form the fibers of tendons,
ligaments, and the fascia), and other complications associated with the
inflammatory processes
Cyanosis – bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes caused by an
excess of deoxygenated hemoglobin (red blood cells) in the blood or a structural
defect in the hemoglobin molecule, will be seen in respiratory problems when severe
issues become apparent
Cystic fibrosis – an inherited disorder of the exocrine glands (secreting outwardly
through a duct to the surface of an organ or tissue or into a vessel, as a gland that
secretes through a duct) causing those glands to produce abnormally thick
secretions of mucous. The glands most affected are those in the pancreas, the
respiratory system, and the sweat glands. It is usually recognized in infancy or
early childhood, occurring usually in Caucasians. Early signs of the disease are a
chronic cough, frequent, foul-smelling stools, and persistent upper respiratory
infections. The most reliable diagnostic tool is the sweat test, which shows
elevations of both sodium and chloride. There is no known cure, so treatment is
directed at prevention of respiratory infections. Mucolytic agents (capable of
dissolving mucus), bronchodilators (relaxes the muscles) and mist tents (to provide
moisture) are used to help liquefy the thick, tenacious mucus. Physical therapy
measures, as postural drainage and breathing exercises, can also dislodge
secretions. Broad spectrum antibiotics may be used prophylactically (as a
preventative agent)
Cytology – the study of cells, including their formation, origin, structure, function,
biochemical activities, and pathology
Decompensation – failure of the heart to maintain adequate circulation,
characterized by dyspnea (shortness of breath), venous engorgement, and edema.
Failure of the defense system mechanism as seen in progressive personality
Decompression – the removal of pressure, as from gas in the intestinal tract by
inserting a nasogastric tube for a period of time (a day or so)
Defecation – the elimination of feces (stool) from the digestive tract through the
Dermatology – the study of the skin, including anatomy, physiology, and pathology
and the diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders
Detoxify – to remove the toxic quality of a substance as in possibly too much
medication in one’s system by checking blood levels
Diabetes – a clinical condition characterized by the excessive excretion of urine.
The excess may be caused by a deficiency of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), as in
diabetes insipidus, or it may be the result of the hyperglycemia (high sugar levels)
as seen in diabetes mellitus
Diaphoresis – the secretion of sweat, especially the profuse secretion associated
with an elevated body temperature, physical exertion, exposure to heat, and mental
or emotional stress. Sweating is centrally controlled by the sympathetic nervous
system and is primarily a thermoregulatory mechanism, but the sweat glands on the
palms and soles respond to emotional stimuli and do not participate in thermal
Diaphragm – in anatomy, a dome-shaped, musculofibrous partition that separates
the thoracic and the abdominal cavities. The convex cranial surface of the
diaphragm forms the floor of the thoracic cavity, and the concave surface forms
the roof of the abdominal cavity. This partition is pierced by various openings
through which pass different structures, as the aorta, esophagus, and vena cava
(one of the two large veins returning blood from the peripheral circulation to the
right side of the heart to be reoxygenated). The diaphragm aids respiration by
moving up and down. During inspiration it moves down and increases the volume of
the thoracic cavity; during expiration it moves up, decreasing the volume
Disaccharides – a group of sugars in carbohydrates
Disimpaction – removing an impaction (hard stool) manually if necessary
Distention – the state of being distended, or to become stretched or inflated
Diverticulitis – inflammation or an abscess of diverticula, which is an out-pouching
in the colon or intestine, causing stagnation (stoppage of motion) of feces (stool) in
little distended sacs in the colon. With repeated inflammations, the lumen (the
diameter or opening) of the colon narrows and may cause an obstruction. During
periods of inflammation, the patient will experience cramping pain, particularly over
the sigmoid (lower rectal) area and fever. The need for bed rest, IV’s, antibiotics,
and to eat nothing by mouth for a few days may be necessary during an acute phase
Down’s syndrome – a congenital condition characterized by varying degrees of
mental retardation and multiple defects. It is the most common chromosomal
abnormality of a generalized syndrome and is caused by the presence of an extra
Duodenal Contractions – the shortest, widest, and most fixed portions of the small
intestine, taking an almost circular course from the pyloric valve of the stomach so
that its termination is close to the starting point. It plays a key role in digestion,
because the common bile duct and pancreatic duct empty into it, by the peristaltic
waves that are present during digestion
Dysarthria – difficult, poorly articulated speech, resulting from interference in
the control over the muscles of speech, usually because of damage to a central or
peripheral motor nerve
Dyspepsia – a vague feeling of gastric discomfort felt after eating. There is an
uncomfortable feeling of fullness, heartburn, bloating and nausea. Dyspepsia is not
a distinct condition, but it may be a sign of underlying intestinal disorder, as peptic
ulcer, gallbladder disease, or chronic appendicitis
Dysphagia – difficulty in swallowing commonly associated with obstructive or motor
disorders of the esophagus. Patients with obstructive disorders, as esophageal
tumor or lower esophageal ring, are unable to swallow solids but can tolerate liquids.
Persons with motor disorders, as achalasia (an abnormal condition characterized by
the inability of a muscle to relax, particularity the cardiac sphincter of the
stomach), are unable to swallow solids or liquids. Diagnosis of the underlying
condition is made through barium studies, the observed clinical signs, and evaluation
of the patient’s symptoms
Dysplasia – a combining form of a condition of abnormal development of tissue
Dyspnea – a shortness of breath or a difficulty in breathing that may be caused by
certain heart conditions, strenuous exercise, or anxiety
Dysrhythmia – an abnormal heart rhythm
Edema – the abnormal accumulation of fluid in the interstitial (spaces between
tissues) tissues, in the pericardial sac (space around the heart), intrapleural space
(within the pleural cavity around the lungs), peritoneal cavity (which covers the
abdominal intestines), or joint capsule. Edema may be caused by increased capillary
(the tiny vessels that join the arterioles and the venules) fluid pressure; venous
(vein) obstruction, as in varicosities, thrombophlebitis (inflammation of a vein), or
pressure from casts, tight bandages, or garters; congestive heart failure;
overloading with parenteral fluids (not in or through the digestive system); renal
(kidney) failure; cirrhosis (liver), and inflammatory reactions. Diuretics (water
pills) are usually given to reduce the swelling or an elastic stocking and elevation of
the extremity can be helpful
Effector organ – a structure which when stimulated produces an effect,
specifically muscles and glands – one of the nerve endings having the efferent
process end in a gland or muscle cell. The terminal arborizations (like a tree –
interlacing) of efferent or motor nerves
Electrocautery snare – the application of a needle or snare heated by electrical
current for the destruction of tissue, as for the removal of warts
Emesis – to expel the contents of the stomach through the esophagus and out of
the mouth, vomiting
Encephalopathy – any abnormal condition of the structure or function of tissues of
the brain, especially chronic, destructive, or degenerative conditions
Encopresis – incontinence of fecal (stool) material (wastes)
Endocrine gland – pertaining to an organ, gland, or structure that secretes a
substance, as a hormone, into the blood or lymph for specific effect on another
organ or part, pertaining to internal secretion; hormonal
Enzymes – a protein produced by living cells that catalyzes chemical reactions in
organic matter. Most enzymes are produced in minute quantities and catalyze
reactions within cells. Digestive enzymes, however, are produced in relatively large
quantities and act outside the cells in the lumen (diameter) of the digestive tube
Epiglottis – the cartilaginous structure that overhangs the larynx like a lid and
prevents food from entering the larynx or the trachea while swallowing, to prevent
Epiglottitis – an inflammation of the epiglottis, acute epiglottis is a severe form of
the condition, affecting primarily children. It is characterized by fever, sore
throat, stridor (heard during inspiration – a high pitched musical respiratory sound
caused by an obstruction in the trachea or larynx), croupy cough, and an
erythematous (reddened), swollen epiglottis. The child may become cyanotic (blue
lips and/or fingers) and require an emergency tracheostomy (opening into the neck
to be able to continue respirations) to maintain respiration. The causative organism
is usually Haemophilus haemolyticus. Antibiotics, rest, oxygen, and supportive care
are usually included in the treatment plan
Erythema – redness or inflammation of the skin or mucous membranes that is the
result of dilatation and congestion of superficial capillaries. Examples of erythema
are nervous blushes and mild sunburn
Esophageal – pertaining to the esophagus, which is the muscular, canal, about 9
inches long, extending from the pharynx to the stomach. It begins in the neck at
the inferior border of the cricoid cartilage, opposite the sixth cervical vertebra,
and descends to the cardiac sphincter of the stomach in a vertical path with two
slight curves. It is the narrowest part of the digestive tube and is most constricted
at its origin and at the point where it passes through the diaphragm. The
esophagus is composed of fibrous, muscular, and submucous coats, and is lined with
mucous membrane
Esophagitis – inflammation of the mucosal lining of the esophagus, caused by
infection, irritation from a nasogastric tube, or most commonly, from backflow of
gastric juice from the stomach
Euphoria – a feeling or state of well-being or elation, an exaggerated abnormal
sense of physical and emotional well-being not based on reality or truth,
disproportionate to its cause, and inappropriate to the situation, as commonly seen
in the manic stage of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive), in some forms of
schizophrenia, in organic mental disorders, and in toxic and drug-induced states
Exacerbation – an increase in the seriousness of a disease of the patient’s signs or
symptoms, after the symptoms have subsided or lessened
Excoriation – an injury to the surface of the skin or other part of the body caused
by scratching or abrasion (scraping of the skin)
Extrapyramidal – of or pertaining to the tissues and structures of the brain that
are associated with movement of the body, excluding motor neurons, the motor
cortex, and the corticospinal and corticobulbar tracts, of or pertaining to the
function of these tissues and structures; any of a large group of conditions
characterized by involuntary movement, changes in muscle tone, and abnormal
posture, as in tardive dyskinesia (an abnormal condition characterized by
involuntary, repetitious movements of the muscles of the face, limbs and trunk),
chorea ( a condition characterized by involuntary, purposeless, rapid motions, as
flexing and extending the fingers, raising and lowering the shoulders, or grimacing),
athetosis ( a neuromuscular condition characterized by slow, writhing, continuous,
and involuntary movement of the extremities) and Parkinson’s disease (a slowly
progressive, degenerative neurologic disorder characterized by resting tremor, pill
rolling of the fingers, a mask-like face, shuffling gait, forward flexion of the trunk,
muscle rigidity and weakness); a reaction to a treatment or a drug characterized by
the signs of extrapyramidal disease. The reaction may persist or regress after
discontinuation of the treatment or drug; the part of the nervous system that
includes the basil ganglia (the islands of gray matter in the brain), part of the
midbrain (one of three parts of the brain stem), and the motor neurons of the
spine. The extrapyramidal system controls and coordinates the motor activities
required for locomotion and for stasis (to stand), body support, and posture; the
tracts of motor nerves from the brain to the anterior horns of the spinal cord,
except for the fibers of the pyramidal tracts (a pathway comprised of groups of
nerve fibers in the white matter of the spinal cord through which motor impulses
are conducted). Within the brain, extrapyramidal tracts comprise various relays of
motor neurons between motor areas of the cerebral cortex, the basil ganglia, the
thalamus, the cerebellum, and the brain stem (all parts of the brain). Research into
the precise functions of these networks continues, and it is not yet known how some
of them work. The extrapyramidal tracts are functional rather than anatomical
(standard position – not movable) units, comprising the nuclei (the controlling body
with each particular cell) and the fibers (a strand of nerve, muscle or connective
tissue) and excluding the pyramidal tracts. They especially control and coordinate
the postural, static, supporting, and locomotor mechanisms and cause contractions
of muscle groups in sequence or simultaneously
Fatty acid – any of several organic acids produced by the hydrolysis (the chemical
alteration or decomposition of a compound with water) of neutral fats. In a living
cell, a fatty acid occurs in combination with another molecule, rather than in a free
state. Essential fatty acids are unsaturated molecules that cannot be produced by
the body and must therefore be included in the diet. Kinds of essential fatty acids
are arachidonic, linoleic, and linolenic
Fecal impaction – an accumulation of hardened feces in the rectum or sigmoid colon
that an individual is unable to move. Diarrhea may be a sign of fecal impaction,
since only liquid material is able to pass around the obstruction. Occasionally, fecal
impaction may cause urinary incontinence due to pressure on the bladder.
Treatment includes oil and cleansing enemas and manual breaking up and removal of
the stool by a gloved finger. Persons who are dehydrated, nutritionally depleted, on
prolonged bed rest, receiving such constipating medications as iron or opiates, or
undergoing barium x-rays are at risk of developing fecal impactions
Feces - stool
Femoral artery – an extension of the external iliac artery into the lower limb,
starting just distal to the inguinal ligament and ending at the junction of the middle
and lower third of the thigh (in the groin). It divides into seven branches and
supplies parts of the lower limb and trunk.
Fiber – a slender, elongated thread or filament; a strand of nerve, muscle, or
connective tissue
Fistula – an abnormal passage from an internal organ to the body surface or
between two internal organs, caused by a congenital defect, injury, or infection.
Fistulas may be created for therapeutic purposes or to obtain body secretions for
physiology studies. An arteriovenous fistula is commonly created to gain access to
the patient’s bloodstream for dialysis. Anal fistulas resulting from rupture or
drainage of abscesses may be treated by fistulectomy (removal of) or fistulotomy
(opening into)
Flatus – air or gas in the intestine that is passed through the rectum
Fluid Retention – an abnormal involuntary accumulation of fluid, usually in the
bladder or in the lungs usually due to cardiovascular deficits (where you could see
swelling in the extremities, usually of the lower extremities, or extra fluid in the
lungs causing increased shortness of breath)
Fluoroscopy – a technique in radiology (x-rays for visually examining a part of the
body) or the function of an organ using a fluoroscope. The technique offers
immediate, serial images in many clinical situations, as in cardiac catheterization
Forceps - a pair of any of a large variety and number of surgical instruments, all of
which have two handles or sides, each attached to a blade. The handles may be
joined at one end, as a pair of tweezers, or the two sides may be separate to be
conjoined in use. Forceps are used to grasp, handle, compress, pull, or join
Fourth ventricle – term used of the brain, a cavity filled with cerebrospinal fluid
Functional - as in a functional disease that affects function or performance, a
condition marked by signs or symptoms of an organic disease or disorder although
careful examination fails to reveal any evidence of structural or physiological
abnormalities. Headache, certain heart murmurs, and constipation may be
symptoms of either organic disease or functional disease
Fungi – a simple parasitic plant that, lacking chlorophyll, is unable to make its own
food and is dependent on other life forms. A simple fungus reproduces by budding
and multicellular fungi reproduce by spore formation. Of the 100,000 identified
species of fungi, 100 are common in man and 10 are pathogenic
Galactose – a simple sugar found in lactose (sugar milk), nerve cell membranes,
sugar beets, gums, seaweed and in flaxseed. Prepared galactose, a white crystalline
substance, is less sweet and less soluble in water than glucose but is similar in other
Gastritis – inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Acute gastritis may be
caused by the ingestion of aspirin or other medications or by the presence of viral,
bacterial, or chemical toxins. The symptoms including anorexia, nausea, vomiting,
and discomfort after eating, usually abate the causative agent is removed. Chronic
gastritis is usually a sign of underlying disease, as peptic ulcer. Diagnosis is by
endoscopy with biopsy
Gastroenteritis – inflammation of the stomach and intestine accompanying
numerous gastrointestinal disorders. Symptoms are anorexia, nausea, vomiting,
abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea. The condition may be attributed to bacterial
enterotoxins, bacterial, or viral invasion, chemical toxins, or to miscellaneous
conditions, as lactose intolerance. The onset may be slow, but more often it is
abrupt and violent, with rapid loss of fluids and diarrhea. Hypokalemia (low
potassium in the blood) and hyponatremia (low sodium/salt in the blood) acidosis, or
alkalosis (acid-base balance) may develop. Treatment is supportive, employing bed
rest, sedation, intravenous replacement of electrolytes, and antispasmodic
medication to control vomiting and diarrhea
Gastroschisis – a congenital defect characterized by incomplete abdominal wall
closure and protrusion of the viscera (internal organs)
Genetic predisposition – the chance fluctuations in gene frequencies that may
occur within a given population, due to a given genetic predisposition you or your
children may acquire a specific trait or disorder
Gingival – the gums of the mouth, a mucous membrane with supporting fibrous
tissue that overlies the crowns of unerupted teeth and encircles the necks of those
teeth that have erupted
Gingivitis – a condition in which the gums are red, swollen, and bleeding. Most
gingivitis is the result of poor oral hygiene and of the accumulation of bacterial
plaque on the teeth, but it may be a sign of another condition
Globus hystericus – a transitory sensation of a lump in the throat that cannot be
swallowed or coughed up, which often accompanies an emotional conflict or acute
anxiety. The condition is thought to be due to a functional disturbance of the ninth
cranial nerve and spasm of the inferior constrictor muscle that encircles the lower
part of the throat. The physical examination tends to be normal, as does the
barium swallow x-rays
Glottis – a split-like opening between the true vocal cords, also called the true
Gluteal – pertaining to the buttocks, the main muscles of the buttocks
Gluttony – over indulgence of food, “stuffed feeling”
Glycogen – a polysaccharide that is the major carbohydrate stored in animal cells.
It is formed from glucose and stored chiefly the liver. Glycogen is depolmerized to
glucose and released into circulation as needed by the body
Guarding – some conditions (example – appendicitis) you will see the patient hold his
side as if by doing that, helps to relieve the pain
Heavy metal ingestion – an occupational disorder caused by the inhalation of fumes
of metallic oxides and characterized by symptoms similar to those of influenza.
The condition occurs most among workers engaged in welding and other occupations
dealing with the manipulation of metals. Access to fresh air and treatment of the
symptoms usually alleviate the condition
Hematemesis – vomiting of bright, red blood, indicating rapid upper
gastrointestinal bleeding, commonly associated with esophageal varices, or peptic
ulcer. The rate and the source of bleeding are determined by endoscopic
examination. Treatment requires replacement of blood by transfusion and
administration of intravenous fluids and electrolyte balance. Vasoconstrictors may
sometime be infused at the site of the bleeding to help reduce the amount of
bleeding. Surgery may be necessary
Hemorrhoids – a varicosity in the lower rectum owing to congestion in the veins.
Internal hemorrhoids originate above the internal sphincter of the rectum. If they
become large enough to protrude from the rectum, they become constricted and
are painful. Small internal hemorrhoids may bleed with having a stool. External
hemorrhoids appear outside the rectum. They are usually not painful and bleeding
does not occur unless a hemorrhoidal vein ruptures. Treatment includes local
application of a topical medication to lubricate, anesthetize, and shrink the
hemorrhoid, sitz baths (sitting in a pan of warm water) and cold or hot compresses
are also soothing. The hemorrhoids may require sclerosing by injection, ligation, or
excision by a surgical procedure. Ligation is increasingly the preferred method, it
is simple, effective, and does not require anesthesia. In this operation, the
hemorrhoid is grasped with a forceps and a rubber band is slipped over it causing
tissue necrosis and sloughing of the hemorrhoid usually occurs within 1 week.
Straining to defecate, constipation, and prolonged sitting contribute to the
development of hemorrhoids
Hernia – protrusion of an organ through an abnormal opening in the muscle wall of
the cavity that surrounds it. A hernia may be congenital, may result from the
failure of certain structures to close after birth, or may be acquired later in life,
owing to obesity, muscular weakness, surgery or illness. Common kinds of hernias
include femoral, hiatal, incisional, inguinal, umbilical or ventral
Hiatal hernia – protrusion of a portion of the stomach upward through the
diaphragm. The condition occurs in about 40% of the population and most people
display few, if any symptoms. The major difficulty in symptomatic patients is
gastroesophageal reflux, the backflow of the acid contents of the stomach into the
Hirschsprung’s – the congenital absence of autonomic ganglia in the smooth muscle
wall of the colon, resulting in poor or absent peristalsis in the involved segment of
colon, accumulation of stool, and dilation of the bowel (megacolon). Symptoms
include intermittent vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. The abdomen may become
distended to several times the normal size. The condition is usually diagnosed in
infancy, but it may not be recognized until much later in childhood. Diagnosis is
confirmed by barium enema, biopsy of the affected tissue shows the absence of
ganglia. Surgical repair in early childhood is usually successful. A temporary
colostomy is performed and the portion affected is removed. The colostomy is
almost always reversed a few months later (12 weeks)
Histamine – a compound, found in all cells, produced by the breakdown of histidine.
It is released in allergic, inflammatory reactions and caused dilation of capillaries,
decreased blood pressure, increased secretion of gastric juice, and constriction of
smooth muscles of the bronchi and uterus
Hydrochloric Acid – a compound consisting of hydrogen and chlorine. It is
secreted in the stomach and is a major component of gastric juice
Hyperactive - excessive, above, or beyond, as in a hyperactive child, or hyperactive
accumulation of gastric juices
Hypercalcemia – greater than normal amounts of calcium in the blood, most often
resulting from excessive bone reabsorption and release of calcium, as occurs in
thyroid disorders. Symptoms may be confusion, anorexia, abdominal pain, muscle
pain and weakness. Extremely high levels of blood calcium may result in shock,
kidney failure, and death
Hyperextension – of a joint, a position of maximum extension
Hypermagnesium – a greater than normal amount of magnesium in the plasma, found
in people with kidney failure and in those who use a large quantity of drugs
containing magnesium, as antacids. Toxic levels can cause heart irregularities and
depression of deep tendon reflexes and respiration. Treatment often includes
intravenous fluids, a diuretic and hemodialysis
Hypersalivation – excess secretion of saliva
Hypersomnia – sleep of excessive depth or abnormal duration, usually caused by
psychological rather than physical factors and characterized by a state of
confusion upon awakening, extreme drowsiness, often associated with lethargy, a
condition characterized by periods of deep long sleep, also called narcolepsy
Hypoactive – slower than normal level of activity or a lesser amount of gastric
juices produced are two examples
Hypokalemia – a condition in which an inadequate amount of potassium, the major
intracellular cation (inside the cell), is found in the circulating blood stream.
Hypokalemia is characterized by abnormal EKG’s, weakness, and flaccid paralysis
and may be caused by starvation, treatment of diabetes, adrenal problems or
diuretic therapy
Hypotension – an abnormal condition in which the blood pressure is not adequate
for normal perfusion and oxygenation of the tissues. An expanded intravascular
space, a decreased intravascular volume or a diminished cardiac thrust may be the
cause, low blood pressure
Hypothyroidism – a condition characterized by severe, congenital hypothyroidism
and often associated with other endocrine abnormalities. Typical signs include
dwarfism, mental deficiency, puffy facial features, dry skin, a large tongue,
umbilical hernia, and muscular incoordination. This disorder usually occurs in areas
where the diet is deficient in iodine and where goiter is endemic. Early treatment
with thyroid hormone generally promotes normal physical growth but may not
prevent mental retardation
Hypotonicity – pertaining to defective muscular tone or tension, a solution of lower
osmotic pressure than another
Idiosyncratic – a physical or behavioral characteristic or manner that is unique to
an individual or a group, an individual’s unique hypersensitivity to a particular drug,
to a food, or another substance
Iliac – one of the three bones that make up the pelvis, the wide upper portion of
the pelvis
Immunosuppressive – of or pertaining to a substance or procedure that lessens or
prevents an immune system, an immunosuppressive agent
Impaction – a condition of being tightly wedged into a part, overloading of an organ,
as the stool in the confine, as a loop of intestine in an inguinal hernia
Increased Intracranial Pressure – increased or a buildup of pressure in the head
caused usually by trauma or injury, other causes can be stroke or aneurysm, needing
immediate treatment; a severe headache is the first and most severe symptom
Incarcerated – to trap, confine or constriction
Infarction - the development of a localized area where the tissue, organ, vessel,
dies or (necrosis) resulting from tissue anoxia (no oxygen) caused by the
interruption in the blood supply to the area, or less frequently by circulatory stasis
produced by the occlusion of a vein that ordinarily carries blood away from the
area, an example is a myocardial infarction (heart attack)
Inflammation – the protective response of the tissues of the body to irritation or
injury. It may be acute or chronic; its cardinal signs are redness, heat, swelling,
and pain, accompanied by loss of function. The process begins with a brief increase
in vascular permeability. The second stage is prolonged and consists of sustained
increase in vascular permeability, exudation of fluids from the vessels, clustering of
leukocytes along the vessel walls, phagocytosis (break down) of microorganisms,
deposition of fibrin in the vessel, disposal of the accumulated debris by
macrophages (cleaning up), and finally the migration of fibroblasts (to support the
tissues around the area of inflammation) to the area and the development of new,
normal cells
Insomnia – chronic inability to sleep or to remain asleep throughout the night,
wakefulness, sleeplessness, the condition is caused by a variety of physical and
psychological factors, including emotional stress, physical pain and discomfort,
disturbances in cerebral function, like toxic delirium and senile dementia, drug
abuse and drug dependence, psychosomatic disorders, neuroses, psychoses, and
psychological problems that produce anxiety, irrational fears, and tensions
Intraluminal – within the interior of any tubular structure, the diameter
Intussusception – prolapse of one segment of bowel into the lumen (diameter) of
another segment of bowel. This segment of intestinal obstruction may involve
segments of the small intestine, the colon, or the terminal ileum and cecum. It
occurs most often in infants and small children and is characterized by abdominal
pain, vomiting and bloody mucus in the stool. Surgery is usually necessary to
correct the obstruction
Irritable colon – (irritable bowel syndrome) - abnormally increased motility of the
small and large intestine generally associated with emotional stress. Most of those
affected are young adults, who complain of diarrhea, or small, scanty, hard stools
and occasionally abdominal pain. The pain is usually relieved by moving of the
bowels. In the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, more serious conditions
(dysentery), lactose intolerance, and the inflammatory bowel diseases must be ruled
out. Although this is a functional disorder, patients experience pain and discomfort
and need emotional support
Ischemia – decreased blood supply to a body organ or part. Some causes are
embolism (obstruction of a vessel by a blood clot) atherosclerosis (hardening of the
arteries), thrombosis (the formation of a blood clot), and vasoconstriction
(constriction of a blood vessel)
Jaundice – a yellow discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes, and sclera (the
white part of the eye) of the eyes, caused by greater than normal amounts of
bilirubin in the blood. Persons with jaundice may also experience nausea, vomiting,
and abdominal pain and may pass dark urine. Jaundice is a symptom of many
disorders, including liver disease, biliary obstruction and anemias
Jejunum – one of the three portions of the small intestine, connecting proximally
with the duodenum and distally with the ileum (the third portion of the small
intestine). It has a slightly larger diameter, a deeper color, and a thicker wall than
the ileum and contains heavy, circular folds that are absent in the lower part of the
ileum. It also has larger villi than the ileum
Jugular vein distention – there are two jugular veins: an external and an internal –
the external receives the blood from the cranium and the deep parts of the face.
It lies superficial to the sternocleidmastoid muscle as it passes down the neck to
join the subclavian vein (major vein that takes blood back to the heart and lungs for
reoxygenation). The internal jugular receives blood from the brain and superficial
parts of the face and neck. It is directly continuous with the transverse sinus,
accompanying the internal carotid as it passes down the neck and joins with the
subclavian vein to form the innominate vein. They are more pronounced during
expiration than during inspiration and also during heart problems such as congestive
heart failure
Ketoacidosis – acidosis accompanied by an accumulation of ketones in the body,
resulting from faulty carbohydrate metabolism. It occurs primarily as a
complication of diabetes and is characterized by a fruity odor of acetone on the
breath, mental confusion, dyspnea, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, weight loss, and if
untreated, coma. Emergency treatment includes the administration of insulin
(secreted by the pancreas) and IV fluids and the evaluation and correction of
electrolyte imbalance
Ketone level – normal metabolic products from which acetone may arise
spontaneously. Excessive production of these bodies leads to their excretion in
urine as in diabetes, which can be measured
Ketosis – the abnormal accumulation of ketones in the body as a result of a
deficiency or inadequate use of carbohydrates. Fatty acids are metabolized
instead, and the end products, ketones, begin to accumulate. This condition is seen
in starvation, and most frequently in diabetes. It is characterized by ketonuria
(ketones in the urine), loss of potassium in the urine, and a fruity odor of acetone
on the breath. Untreated ketosis may progress to ketoacidosis, coma and death
Kussmaul’s respiration – abnormally deep, very rapid, sighing respirations, resulting
from air hunger characteristic of diabetes
Lacteal blockage – a blockage of one of the many central lymphatic capillaries in
the villi of the small intestine. It opens into the lymphatic vessels in the
submucosa. The capillary is filled with chyme that turns milky white during the
absorption of fat
Lactose Intolerance – a sensitivity disorder resulting in the inability to digest
lactose owing to a deficiency of or defect in the enzyme lactase. Symptoms of the
disorder are bloating, flatus, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. The diet is
adjusted according to the tolerance level, restricting such foods as milk, cheese,
butter, margarine, and any products containing milk, as cakes, ice cream, cream
soups, and sauces
Laryngoscopy – an examination of the interior of the larynx, the instrument should
be warmed and parts should be sprayed with cocaine, to observe with the aid of a
small long handled mirror for reflecting the interior of the larynx
Larynx – the organ of voice, the enlarged upper end of the trachea;
musculocartilaginous structure lined with mucous membrane, it consists of nine
cartilages bound together by an elastic membrane and moved by muscles
Lavage – the process of washing out an organ, usually the bladder, bowel, paranasal
sinus, or stomach for therapeutic purposes, to perform a lavage, kinds of lavage are
blood, gastric, peritoneal dialysis lavages
Lethargy – the state or quality of being indifferent, apathetic, or sluggish, stupor
or coma resulting from disease or hypnosis
Level of Consciousness – the degree of awareness of one’s surroundings, this may
be affected by a neurologic injury or from nonneurologic causes such as electrolyte
imbalance, hepatic coma (liver), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hypoxia (low
oxygen), or sedative overdose
Lithotripsy – a procedure where an instrument is used for crushing a stone in the
urinary bladder, a kidney stone
Localize – limited to one place or part, limitation to a definite area, determination
of the seat of an infection, relation of a sensation to its point of origin
Lumbar vertebrae – one of the five largest segments of the movable part of the
vertebral column, distinguished by the absence of a foramen in the transverse
process and by vertebral bodies without facets. The body of each lumbar vertebra
is flattened or slightly concave superiorly and inferiorly and is deeply constricted
ventrally at the sides. The spinous process of each is thick, broad, and somewhat
quadrilateral; the body of the fifth lumbar vertebra is much deeper ventrally than
Lymphadenopathy – a disease of the lymph nodes, which is a body of alkaline fluid
found in the lymphatic vessels that has a clear, transparent, colorless fluid,
however, in vessels draining the intestines it may appear milky owing to presence of
absorbed fats
Lymphatic – of or pertaining to the lymphatic system of the body, consisting of a
vast network of tubes transporting lymph, a lymph vessel conveys toward the heart;
contains valves like the veins; like plasma in the blood but lymph contain no red
blood cells, acts as a filter of bacteria in the body, example in the intestine
Malabsorption – impaired absorption of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract,
it occurs in celiac disease (dilatation of the small and large intestines, a chronic
intestinal disorder) sprue (a malabsorption problem in tropical areas), dysentery
(one of a number of intestinal disorders), diarrhea, and other disorders and may
result from an inborn error in metabolism, malnutrition, or any chemical or anatomic
condition of the digestive system that prevents normal absorption
Malaise – a vague feeling of bodily weakness or discomfort, often marking the
onset of a disease
Mallory Weiss syndrome – a condition characterized by massive bleeding following
a tear in the mucous membrane at the junction of the esophagus and the stomach,
the laceration is usually caused by protracted vomiting in those with pylorus (at the
bottom of the stomach) obstruction or by endoscopy, can be seen with
arteriography (putting dye in the vein) and surgery is usually need to stop the
Mechanical obstruction – is an obstruction that is not a part of the body such as a
piece of meat causing an obstruction in the throat
Medulla oblongata – the most vital part of the brain, continuing as the swollen
portion of the spinal cord just above the foramen magnum (the spinal cord passes
through it from the occipital bone in the brain) and separated from the pons (a
process of tissue connecting two or more parts) by a horizontal groove, it is one of
three parts of the brain stem and contains mostly white substance with some
mixture of gray substance. The medulla contains the cardiac, vasomotor, and the
respiratory centers of the brain, and medullary injury or disease often proves fatal
Mesentery – a peritoneal fold that attaches the stomach, small intestine, pancreas,
and other abdominal organs to the dorsal body wall, commonly, the term refers to
the membranous folds, which invest the small intestine
Mesothelium – a layer of cells derived from the mesoderm lining of the primitive
body cavity, in the adult it becomes the epithelium covering the serous membranes
Metabolic – the aggregate of all chemical processes that take place in living
organisms, resulting in growth, generation of energy, elimination of wastes, and
other bodily functions as they relate to the distribution of nutrients in the blood
after digestion, metabolism takes place in two steps: anabolism, the constructive
phase, in which smaller molecules (as amino acids) are converted to larger molecules
(as proteins); and catabolism, the destructive phase, in which larger molecules (as
glycogen) are converted to smaller molecules (as pyruvic acid). The metabolic rate
is customarily expressed (in calories) as the heat liberated in the course of
Microbes – a pathogenic microorganism, a small living microorganism
Minor motor seizures – a transitory disturbance in brain function caused by
abnormal neuronal discharges that arise initially in a localized motor area of the
cerebral cortex, the manifestations depend on the site of the abnormal electrical
activity, as tonic contractures of the thumb, caused by excessive discharges in the
motor area of the cortex controlling the first digit. The disturbance may spread,
or it may end in a shower of clonic movements or a generalized convulsion also called
focal motor seizures
Molecules – the smallest unit of matter that can exist alone and exhibit the
characteristic chemical properties of an element or compound. A molecule is
composed of two or more atoms held together by chemical forces
Motility – the capability of spontaneous but unconscious or involuntary movement,
the condition of being capable of movement
Motor Impairment – the inability for motor movement
Mucopurulent – characteristic of a combination of mucus and pus
Mucosa – is a mucous membrane, which is any one of four major kinds of thin
sheets of tissue that cover or line various parts of the body. They line cavities or
canals of the body that open to the outside, as the linings of the mouth. They
consist to a surface layer of epithelial tissue covering a deeper layer of connective
tissue and protect the underlying structure, secrete mucus, and absorb water,
salts, and other solutes
Myocardial – of or pertaining to the heart, a thick, contractile, middle layer of
uniquely constructed and arranged muscle cells that form the bulk of the heart
wall, it contains a minimum of other tissue, except for the blood vessels, and is
covered interiorly by the endocardium (a layer of heart muscle)
Myoclonic – a condition of intermittent clonic spasm or twitching of a muscle or
muscles, twitching or clonic spasm of a muscle or group of muscles
Myopathy – an abnormal condition of skeletal muscle characterized by muscle
weakness, wasting, and histological changes within muscle tissue, as seen in any of
the muscular dystrophies. A myopathy is distinct from a muscle disorder caused by
nerve dysfunction. The specific diagnosis of any myopathy is made using tests of
serum enzymes, electromyography and muscle biopsy
Myotomy – the cutting of a muscle, performed to gain access to underlying tissues
or to relieve constriction in a sphincter, as in severe esophagitis
Neurological – a systematic examination of the nervous system, including an
assessment of mental status, the function of each of the cranial nerves, sensory
and neuromuscular function, the reflexes, and other cerebellar functions
Neuromuscular – of or pertaining to the nerves and the muscles
Neuropathies – any abnormal condition characterized by inflammation and
degeneration of the peripheral nerves
Nocturnal – pertaining to or occurring during the night, describing an individual
that is active at night and sleeps during the day
Obstipation – a condition of extreme and persistent constipation caused by
intestinal or eliminatory obstruction, a process of blocking
Obstructive bowel disorder – a blockage of the lumen of the intestinal tract which
causes enlargement of a loop of bowel, abdominal distention, and if large enough can
cause pain and absence of stool
Oliguria – diminished amount of urine formation, usually seen after profuse
perspiration, bleeding or diarrhea
Opiates – a narcotic drug containing opium, its derivatives, or any of several
semisynthetic or synthetic drugs with opium like activity, a substance that causes
sleep or the relief of pain
Osmosis – the movement of a pure solvent as water through a semipermeable
membrane from a solution that has a lower solute concentration to one that has a
higher solute concentration
Oxidized – of an element of compound, to combine or cause to combine with
oxygen, to remove hydrogen, or to increase the valence of an element, any process
in which the oxygen content of a compound is increased
Pallor – lack of color, paleness of the skin
Palpitation – to examine by touch, to feel, process of examining by application of
the hands to the external surface of the body to detect evidence of disease in the
various organs
Pancreatic juice – its secretion is brought about by two hormones, secretin and
pancreozymin, which are secreted by the duodenal mucosa, pancreatic juice begins
to flow when the acid contents of the stomach pass through the pylorus. it is a
clear, viscid, alkaline fluid resembling saliva in consistency. It contains water,
protein, inorganic salts, and enzymes, from 500-800cc are secreted every 24 hours
and discharged through the duodenum
Paralytic ileus – concerning paralysis, one afflicted with paralysis; as in a paralytic
ileus which involves the intestinal wall with distention and symptoms of acute
obstruction and prostration, it may occur after any abdominal operation
Paralyze – to cause temporary or permanent loss of muscular power or sensation,
to render effective
Parasitic infection – like, caused by, or concerning a parasite, an organism that
lives within, upon, or at the expense of another organism known as the host
Parasympathetic – of or pertaining to the craniosacral division of the autonomic
nervous system – they originate in the nuclei (cell portion that controls its function)
in the midbrain, medulla, and the sacral portion of the spinal cord, some effects of
the parasympathetic stimulation are constriction of the pupil, contraction of
smooth muscle in the stomach (alimentary tract), constriction of the bronchioles,
slowing of the heart rate, and increased secretion by glands, except sweat glands,
parasympathetic effects are specific rather than general
Parenteral – situated or occurring outside of the intestines; digestive – of foreign
substances by body cells as opposed to enteral digestion, which occurs in the
alimentary canal; injection – of substances into the body through any route other
than via alimentary canal, as subcutaneous, IV, IM, or intrathecal injection; therapy
– introduction of a substance, especially by means other than the intestinal tract
Paresthesia – abnormal sensation without an objective cause, such as numbness,
prickling, and tingling, heightened sensitivity
Parietal cell receptor – pertaining to or forming the wall of a cavity, large cells on
margin of the peptic glands of the stomach, which supposedly secrete hydrochloric
Parotid – one of the largest pairs of salivary glands that lie at the side of the face
just below and in front of the external ear
Paroxysmal – a marked, usually episodic increase in symptoms, a convulsion, fit,
seizure, or spasm, a sudden, periodic attack or reoccurrence of symptoms of a
disease, an exacerbation of the symptoms of a disease, sudden emotional state as
of fear, grief or joy
Pathologic – pertaining to that branch of medicine that studies the nature and
cause of disease, indicative of or caused by disease
Pepsin – an enzyme secreted in the stomach that catalyzes the hydrolysis of
protein. Preparations of pepsin obtained from pork and beef stomachs are
sometimes used as digestive aids
Peridex – a solution used in oral care especially when a toothbrush can no longer be
used due to gingivitis as an example. It is comprised of hydrogen peroxide, saline
and water in equal parts
Peridontal disease – surrounding a tooth or part of one with a problem such as the
tissues or possibly a nerve
Peripheral edema – swelling of an outer part or a surface of the body, a part away
from the center, as in the lower legs and feet
Peritoneum – an extensive serous membrane that covers the entire abdominal wall
of the body and is reflected over the contained viscera (the internal organs). It is
divided into the parietal peritoneum and the visceral peritoneum. In men, it is a
closed membranous sac. In women, it is perforated by the free ends of the uterine
tubes. The free surface of the peritoneum is smooth mesothelium (layer of tissue)
lubricated by serous fluid, which permits the viscera to glide easily against the
abdominal wall and against one another. The mesentery (a peritoneal fold of tissue)
of the peritoneum fans out from the main membrane to suspend the small intestine.
Peritonitis – an inflammation of the peritoneum produced by bacteria or irritating
substances introduced into the abdominal cavity by a penetrating wound or
perforation of an organ in the gastrointestinal or reproductive tract. The major
cause is usually appendicitis but may also be caused by intestinal diverticuli, peptic
ulcers, gangrenous gallbladder, hernias, or ruptured spleen, liver, or ovarian cyst.
The patient has chills, fever, breathes rapidly and shallowly, anxious, dehydrated,
and unable to have a stool and may vomit fecal material. A high white cell count is
usually indicative of the problem and is usually treated with surgery to correct the
rupture or perforation
Periumbilical – around the umbilicus or “belly-button”
Pharyngitis – inflammation or infection of the pharynx, usually causing symptoms of
a sore throat; some causes may be the herpes simplex virus, infectious
mononucleosis, and a strep infection; symptoms may be relieved by analgesic
medications, drinking warm or cool liquids, or saline irrigation of the throat
Pharynx – a tubular structure about 5 inches long that extends from the base of
the skull to the esophagus and is situated just in front of the cervical vertebrae.
It serves as a passageway for the respiratory and digestive tracts and changes
shape to allow the formation of various vowel sounds. It is composed of muscle, is
lined with mucous membranes and is divided into the nasopharynx, the oropharynx
and the laryngopharynx. It contains the openings of the right and the left auditory
tubes, the nares (nose) and the tonsils
Phenothiazines – a group of medications that exert significant influence on many
organ systems of the body at once such as Compazine or Thorazine which produce
antiadrenergics, anticholinergic, and antihistaminic activity
Phobia – abnormal fear of an object, experience or place specified
Photophobia – abnormal sensitivity to light, especially by the eyes. It is prevalent
in diseases of the conjunctiva and the cornea
Phrenic nerve – one of a pair of muscular branches of the cervical (neck) plexus,
arises from the fourth cervical nerve. It contains about half as many sensory as
motor fibers and is generally known as the motor nerve to the diaphragm.
Plaque – a flat, often raised, patch on the skin, or any other organ of the body, a
patch of atherosclerosis, a thin film on the teeth made up of mucin and colloidal
material found in saliva and often secondarily invaded by bacteria
Plasma – the watery, colorless, fluid portion of the lymph and blood in which the
leukocytes (white blood cells), erythrocytes (red blood cells) and platelets are
suspended. It contains no cells and is made up of water, electrolytes, proteins,
glucose, fats, bilirubin, and gases. It is essential for carrying the cellular elements
of the blood through the circulation, transporting nutrients, maintaining the acidbase balance of the body and transporting wastes from the tissues. Plasma and
interstitial fluid correspond closely in content and protein concentration;
therefore, plasma is important in maintaining the osmotic pressure and exchange of
fluids and electrolytes between capillaries and tissues
Pleuritic chest pain – pain associated with the inflammation of the pleura of the
lungs (the lining surrounding the lungs), characterized by dyspnea, and stabbing
pain, leading to restriction of ordinary breathing with spasm of the chest on the
affected side. A friction rub may be heard on auscultation, simple pleurisy with
undetectable exudate is called fibrinous or dry; pleural effusion indicates extensive
inflammation with considerable amounts of exudate in the pleural spaces. Common
causes include lung or chest abscess and pneumonia; the condition may result in
permanent adhesions between the pleura and the adjacent surfaces. Treatment
consists of relief of pain and therapy for the primary disease
Postganglion – situated behind a ganglion, which is a knot or knot-like mass of nerve
cells, chiefly, collected in groups outside the central nervous system. Individual
cells and very small groups abound in association with alimentary organs. The two
types of ganglia in the body are the sensory ganglia on the dorsal roots of spinal
nerves and on the sensory roots of the trigeminal, facial, glossopharyngeal, and
vagus nerves and the autonomic ganglia of the sympathetic and parasympathetic
Projectile – vomiting not preceded by nausea in which the stomach contents are
forcibly ejected
Prone – lying with the face downward, referring to the hand with the palm facing
Proprioception – sensation pertaining to stimuli originating from within the body
regarding spatial position and muscular activity or to the sensory receptors that
they activate
Propulsive – a tendency to push or fall forward in walking, a condition seen in
neurological disorders
Protrusions – state or condition of being forward or projecting, a part that is
prominent beyond a surface, like a knob
Pruritus – the symptom of itching, an uncomfortable sensation leading to the urge
to scratch, which often results in secondary infection, jaundice, lymphoma, and skin
irritation, treatment depends on the cause, symptomatic relief may be obtained by
antihistamines, starch baths, topical corticosteroids, cool water, or alcohol
Psoriasis – a common chronic skin disorder characterized by circumscribed red
patches covered by thick, dry, silvery adherent scales that are the result of
excessive development of epithelial cells, exacerbations and remissions are typical,
lesions may be anywhere on the body but are more common on extensor surfaces,
bony prominences, scalp, ears, genitalia, and the perianal area, treatment includes
topical corticosteroids, ultraviolet light, tar solution baths, crams and shampoos and
Psychogenic – originating within the mind, any physical symptom, disease process,
or emotional state of psychological rather than physical origin
Pulmonary – of or pertaining to the lungs
Purulent – producing or containing pus
Pyloric Obstruction - (or stenosis) is a narrowing of the pyloric sphincter at the
outlet of the stomach, causing an obstruction that blocks the flow of food into the
small intestine. The condition occurs as a congenital defect in 1 of 200 newborns
and, occasionally, in older adults secondary to an ulcer or fibrosis at the outlet.
Diagnosis is made in infants by the presence of forceful projectile vomiting and
palpitation of a hard, prominent pylorus, and in adults by x-ray following barium
ingestion, after surgery, a stomach tube remains in place and observation is
maintained for signs
Pyloroplasty – a surgical procedure performed to relieve pyloric stenosis resulting
from chronic gastric ulcer, before surgery, any electrolyte imbalance or fluid
deficiencies needs to be corrected, sodium chloride and potassium chloride
solutions may be given to correct ion imbalances from vomiting, which is a
characteristic of the condition. The passageway is dilated. The operation allows
the alkaline secretions of the duodenum to flow back into the stomach, branches of
the vagus nerve that supply the acid-secreting portion of the stomach may be cut,
reducing the acidity of the stomach contents; diarrhea is a common postoperative
Pylorus – a tubular portion of the stomach that angles to the right from the body
of the stomach toward the duodenum, it is marked by the thickening of the pyloric
sphincter and its lining is composed of an intestinal kind of epithelium rather than
the gastric kind common to the body of the stomach
Pyrosis – a percordial, substernal or epigastric burning sensation, often associated
with the eructation (vomiting) of acid contents from the stomach, it may be a
symptom of esophagitis
Rales – a common abnormal respiratory sound heard on auscultation of the chest
during inspiration, characterized by discontinuous bubbling noises. Fine rales have a
crackling sound produced by air entering distal bronchioles or alveoli that contain
serous secretions, as in congestive heart failure, medium rales are medium pitched
bubbling or gurgling sounds caused by air passing through secretions in the
bronchioles or by separation of bronchiolar walls previously adhered by exudate,
coarse rales originate in the larger bronchi or trachea and have a lower pitch
Rectal – the portion of the large intestine, about 5 inches long between the sigmoid
colon and the anal canal which ends up to the opening to the outside of the body
Reflux – an abnormal backward or return flow of a fluid, usually associated with
gastroesophageal - meaning the stomach contents are regurgitated back into the
esophagus and out the mouth
Regurgitation – the return of swallowed food into the mouth, the backward flow of
blood through a defective heart valve, named for the affected valve such as aortic
Remission – the partial or complete disappearance of the clinical and subjective
characteristics of a chronic disease, it may be spontaneous or the result of
therapy, in some cases, remission is permanent and the disease is cured
Repulsion – the act of repelling, disjoining, a force that separates two bodies or
Rhinorrhea – thin, watery discharge from the nose
Rigidity – a condition of hardness, stiffness, or inflexibility
Salivary – of or pertaining to saliva or its formation, which is a clear, viscous fluid
secreted by the salivary and mucous glands in the mouth. It contains water, mucin,
organic salts and the digestive enzyme ptyalin. It moistens the oral cavity to
initiate the digestion of starches and to aid in chewing and swallowing
Scleroderma – a relatively rare autoimmune disease afflicting the blood vessels
and connective tissue, characterized by fibrous degeneration of the connective
tissue of the skin, lungs, and internal organs, most common in middle aged women,
signs include skin changes, joint deformity, and pain on movement, a biopsy may be
done to diagnose the condition, x-ray will diagnose it if systemic, corticosteroids
may help treat the symptoms, and salicylates and mild analgesics may ease joint pain
Scoliosis – lateral curvature of the spine, a common abnormality in childhood.
Causes include congenital malformations of the spine, poliomyelitis, skeletal
dysplasias, spastic paralysis, and unequal leg length. Early recognition and
orthopedic treatment may prevent progression. Treatment includes braces, casts,
exercises, and corrective surgery
Sigmoidoscopy – an endoscope used to examine the lumen (diameter) of the sigmoid
colon. It allows for direct visualization of the mucous membrane lining the colon
Sinusitis – inflammation of the sinus tracts. It may be a complication of an upper
respiratory infection, dental infection, allergy, a change in atmosphere, or a
structural defect of the nose. With swelling of the nasal mucous membranes the
openings from sinuses to the nose may be obstructed, resulting in an accumulation
of sinus secretions, causing pressure, pain, headache, fever, and local tenderness.
Treatment includes steam inhalations, nasal decongestants, analgesics, and if
infection is present, antibiotics
Skin turgor – the normal resiliency of the skin caused by the outward pressure of
the cells and interstitial fluid. Dehydration results in decreased skin turgor,
manifested by lax skin, which when grasped and raised between two fingers, slowly
returns to a position level with the adjacent tissue or may appear wrinkled. Marked
edema or ascites results in increased turgor manifested by smooth, taut, shiny skin
that cannot be grasped and raised. An elevation of the turgor of the skin is an
essential part of the physical assessment
Spasm – an involuntary muscle contraction of sudden onset, as habit spasms,
hiccups, stuttering, or a tic. A convulsion or a seizure, a sudden transient
constriction of a blood vessel, bronchus, esophagus, pylorus, ureter, or other hollow
Spina bifida – a relatively common congenital neural tube defect characterized by
a developmental anomaly in the posterior vertebral arch. It may occur with only a
small deformed lamina separated by a midline gap, or it may be associated with the
complete absence of laminae surrounding a large area.
Spinal cord trauma – any one of the traumatic disruptions of the spinal cord, often
associated with extensive musculoskeletal involvement. Common spinal cord injuries
are spinal fractures and dislocations. Such trauma may cause varying degrees of
paraplegia and quadriplegia (the inability to move either two limbs or four) Injuries
to spinal structures below the first thoracic vertebra may produce paraplegia.
Injuries to the spine above the first thoracic vertebra may cause quadriplegia.
Injuries that completely transect the spinal cord causes permanent loss of motor
and sensory function
Staphylococci – a bacteria normally found on the skin and in the throat; certain
species cause severe, purulent infections, which may cause nausea, vomiting or
diarrhea. Staph aureus is a species frequently responsible for abscesses,
endocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart), impetigo (skin infection),
osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bones), pneumonia, and septicemia (infection in
the blood stream)
Sternum – the elongated, flattened bone forming the middle portion of the thorax.
It supports the clavicles, articulates with the first seven pairs of ribs, and
comprises the xiphoid process. It is composed of highly vascular tissue covered by
a thin layer of bone. The sternum is longer in men than in women
Stomatitis – inflammation of the mouth. It may result from infection by bacteria,
viruses or fungi, from exposure to certain chemicals or drugs; from vitamin
deficiency; or from a systemic inflammatory disease
Strangulated – the constriction of a tubular structure of the body, as the trachea,
that impedes circulation or prevents function
Stricture – any abnormal narrowing of the lumen of a hollow organ, as the
esophagus, ureter or urethra, owing to inflammation, external pressure, or scarring.
Treatment varies depending on the cause
Suprarenal – situated above the kidney
Symmetrical – of the body or parts of the body: equal in size or shape, different in
placement or arrangement about an axis
Sympathetic – the same as autonomic nervous system - refer to it above
Sympathomimetics – noting a pharmacological agent that mimics the effects of
stimulation of organs and structures by the sympathetic nervous system by
occupying adrenergic receptor sites and acting as an agonist or by increasing the
release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine at postganglionic nerve endings.
Various agents are used as decongestants of nasal and ocular mucosa and used for
maintaining blood pressure during surgery under spinal anesthesia. Side effects
may include nervousness, headache, anxiety, vertigo, nausea, vomiting, dilated
pupils, glycosuria (sugar in the urine), and dysuria (painful urination)
Symptomatology – the science of symptoms and indications, all of the symptoms of
a given disease as a whole
Systemic – of or pertaining to the whole body rather than to a localized area or
regional portion of the body
Systemic Inflammatory Disease - an infection that would involve all body systems
such as bacteria in the blood or possibly a disease such as lupus
Tachycardia – a circulatory condition in which the myocardium (heart rate)
contracts regularly but at an accelerated rate of 100-150 beats per minute.
Pathologic tachycardia accompanies anoxia, as caused by anemia, congestive heart
failure, hemorrhage or shock
Tachypnea – an abnormally rapid rate of breathing as seen with possibly a high
Tenesmus – persistent, ineffectual spasms of the rectum or bladder, accompanied
by the desire to empty the bowel or bladder. Intestinal tenesmus is a common
complaint in inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel disease
Thoracic – of or pertaining to the thorax, which is the cage of bone and cartilage
containing the principal organs of respiration and circulation and the covering part
of the abdominal organs. It is formed by the sternum, the 12 thoracic vertebra
and the 12 ribs
Thoracic vertebrae – one of the 12 bony segments of the spinal column of the
upper back, designated T1 to T12. T1 is just below the seventh cervical vertebra
(C7) and T12 is just above the first lumbar (L1). The thoracic portion of the spine
is flexible and has a concave ventral curvature. Each vertebrae becomes thicker
and heavier in descending order from T1 to T 12
Thyroid gland – a highly vascular organ at the front of the neck, consisting of
bilateral lobes connected in the middle by a narrow isthmus. It is slightly heavier in
women than in men. The gland secretes the hormone thyroxin directly into the
blood and is part of the endocrine system of the ductless glands. It is essential to
normal body growth in infancy and childhood, and its removal greatly reduces the
oxidative processes of the body, producing a lower metabolic rate characteristic of
hypothyroidism. The thyroid is activated by the pituitary hormone and requires
iodine to elaborate thyroxin
Tonically – pertaining to or characterized by tension or contraction, especially
muscular tension, restoring tone, or a medicine that increases strength and tone
Tonic-clonic – both tonic and clonic, said of muscular spasms or seizures
Toxemia – distribution throughout the body of poisonous products of bacteria
growing in a focal or local site, thus producing generalized symptoms (constitutional
disturbances, rigors, increased temperature, diarrhea, vomiting, pulse and
respiration quickened or depressed prostration
Toxin – a poisonous substance of animal or plant origin
Tracheostomy – an operation of cutting into the throat to the trachea usually for
insertion of a tube to overcome tracheal obstruction or the inability to breathe
through the nose or mouth
Tricyclic antidepressants – (same as anti depressant) – of or pertaining to a
substance or a measure that prevents or relieves depression, a mood disturbance
characterized by feelings of sadness, despair, and discouragement resulting from
and proportionate to some personal loss or tragedy, an abnormal emotional state
characterized by exaggerated feelings of sadness, melancholy, dejection,
worthlessness, emptiness, and hopelessness that are inappropriate and out of
proportion to reality
Ulcerations – of the nature of an ulcer or affected with one – an open sore or
lesion of the skin or mucous membrane of the body, with loss of substance,
sometimes accompanied by formation of pus, simple ulcers may result from trauma,
caustics, or intense heat or cold.
Ulcerative colitis – a chronic, episodic, inflammatory disease of the large intestine
and rectum, characterized by profuse watery diarrhea containing varying amounts
of blood, mucous, and pus, and easily confused with Crohn’s disease. The attacks of
diarrhea are accompanied by tenesmus, severe abdominal pain, fever, chills, anemia,
and weight loss. Children with the disease suffer retarded physical growth.
Diagnosis is aided by x-ray and biopsy. Treatment includes use of corticosteroids,
or other anti-inflammatory agents, and surgery
Umbilicus – the point on the abdomen at which the umbilical cord joined the fetal
abdomen, marked in the adult by a depression but sometimes by a protrusion
Ureter – one of a pair of tubes, that carry the urine from the kidney into the
bladder, they are thick walled and are divided into an abdominal portion and a pelvic
Uvetis – inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye, including the iris, ciliary body,
and choroid. It may be characterized by an irregularly shaped pupil, inflammation
around the cornea, pus, opaque deposits on the cornea, pain, and lacrimation. Causes
include allergy, infection, trauma, diabetes, collagen diseases, and skin diseases. A
major complication may be glaucoma
Uvula – the small, cone-shaped process suspended in the mouth above the root of
the tongue from the middle of the posterior border of the soft palate
Vagotomy – the cutting of certain branches of the vagus nerve, performed with a
gastric surgery, to reduce the amount of gastric acid secreted and lessened the
chance of recurrence of a gastric ulcer. Since peristalsis will be diminished, a
pyloroplasty or an anastomosis of the stomach to the jejunum is done to assure
proper emptying of the stomach
Vagus nerve – either of the longest pair of cranial nerves essential for speech,
swallowing, and the sensibilities and functions of many parts of the body, it is the
10th cranial nerve arising in the medulla in the brain. Vagus means “wanderer” – that
they are the only nerves that extend beyond the region of the head and neck. The
vagus nerves supply most of the nerves in the neck, thorax and abdomen
Valsalva – a method for testing the patency of the eustachian tubes. With mouth
and nose held tightly closed, a forced expiratory effort is made; if the eustachian
tubes are open, air will enter into the middle ear cavities and the subject will hear a
popping sound
Varices – a tortuous, dilated vein, an enlarged, tortous artery or a distended
twisting lymphatic, seen frequently in the esophagus or in the intestine
Ventricular gallop – an abnormal cardiac rhythm in which a low-pitched extra heart
sound is heard early in diastole on auscultation of the heart, when heard in a
healthy young child or young adult, it is called a physiologic third heart sound and
will usually disappear as he ages
Vertebral column – the flexible structure that forms the axis of the skeleton and
are arranged in a straight line from the base of the skull to the coccyx. The
vertebrae are separated by intervertebral discs. They provide attachment for
various muscles, which give the column strength and flexibility
Vestibular – of or pertaining to a vestibule. As the vestibular portion of the mouth,
which lies between the cheeks and the teeth, a space or cavity that serves as an
entrance to a passageway
Videofluroscopy – video taping of an x-ray process
Viral – any of the diseases caused by 1 of approximately 200 viruses pathogenic to
humans, some are the most communicable and dangerous diseases known; some are
mild and transient conditions that pass virtually unnoticed. If cells are damaged by
the viral attack, disease exists. The signs of infection reflect the anatomic
location in the damaged cells. Viruses are introduced in the body through a break in
the skin, a blood transfusion, droplet infection through the respiratory tract, or by
ingestion through the digestive tract into the gastrointestinal system
Viruses – a minute microorganism much smaller than a bacterium, having no
independent metabolic activity, may only replicate within a cell of a living plant or
animal host, a virus consists of a core of nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) surrounded by
a coat of protein
Visceral – any one of the large internal organs contained in the abdominal, the
thoracic, or the pelvic cavities of the body
Vitamin D intoxification – a disease when too much vitamin D is ingested
Vomitus – same as emesis, look above for definition
Widened Pulse Pressure – when the difference between the systolic and diastolic
pressures, normally 30-40 mm HG becomes greater than the normal as in 100/60
versus 150/60
Zenker’s diverticulum – a circumscribed herniation of the mucous membrane of the
pharynx as it joins the esophagus. Food may become trapped in the diverticulum
and may be aspirated. Diagnosis is confirmed by x-ray studies. In most cases it is
small, causes no dysfunction, is not diagnosed, and requires no treatment
Acid Reflux and Heartburn, Dr. Minocha, Professor of Medicine and Director,
Division of Digestive Diseases, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson,
MS. 2002
Assessments, Chapter 11, Pages 384 – 431, Nurses Reference Library, Springhouse
Publishing Company, 1986
Children With Feeding Tubes, Part 1: The Issues and Part 2: Treatment
Programs, Part 3: Making The Transition To Oral Feeding, New Visions,
Suzanne Evans Morris, PhD., Speech Language Pathologist, 2000
Choosing Feeding Equipment, Suzanne Evans Morris, PhD., Speech-Language
Pathologist, New Visions, 1997
Chronic Constipation and Encopresis in Children, Dr. Stephen M. Borowitz, January
22, 2002, Children’s Medical Center of the University of Virginia
Common GI Problems: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, The American College of
Gastroenterology, 2000
Constipation: A Guide for Patients, James A. Clifton, Center for Digestive Diseases
Iowa Health Book: Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics,
November, 1994
Constipation in Children, Colin D. Rudolph MD, PhD., Children’s Center for Motility
Disorders, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229 at the 1998
International Family Conference
Definitions, Nurses Reference Library, Springhouse Publishing Company, 1986
Diagnostics, Chapter 27, Pages 809 – 887, Nurses Reference Library, Springhouse
Publishing Company, 1986
Diseases, Chapter 10, Pages 648 – 718, Nurses Reference Library, Springhouse
Publishing Company, 1986
Duodenal Ulcer, U. S. National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda
MD, 20894, September, 2002
Emergencies, Chapter 7, Pages 296 - 337, Nurses Reference Library, Springhouse
Publishing Company, 1986
Enteral Feeding, Abdullah Abdulaziz Al Zaben, February 16, 2002
Expanding Children’s Diets, Susanne Evans Morris, PhD., Speech-Language
Pathologist, New Visions, 1999
Feeding And Pre-Speech Characteristics: Children With Mild Sensorimotor
Impairment, Suzanne Evans Morris PhD., Speech-Language Pathologist, New Visions,
Feeding And Speech Relationships, Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph D., Speech-Language
Pathologist, New Visions, 1998
Feeding Tube, Tips For Daily Living With Huntington’s Disease, Jean Miller, April
19, 2000
Feeding Tubes, Jean Miller, Huntington’s Disease Advocacy Center
Food Progressions For Biting And Chewing, Suzanne Evans Morris, PhD., SpeechLanguage Pathologist, New Visions, 2000
Formula Rotation – For Children Who Receive Tube Feedings, Suzanne Evans Morris
PhD., Speech-Language Pathologist, New Visions, 1997
For People In Pain, American Pain Society, 1996-2002
Gastroenteritis, Vinay N. Reddy, MD, May 12, 2001
Gastroenterology and Hepatology: Peptic Ulcer Disease, Jatinder P.S. Ahluwalia,
MD, Mark A. Graber, MD, William B. Silverman, MD, Division of Gastroenterology
and Hepatology and Department of Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, and
Emergency Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and College of
Medicine, 2002
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (Hiatal Hernia and Heartburn), the National
Digestive Diseases Information Clearing house, NIH Publication No. 94-882, April,
Gastrointestinal Health and the Child With Feeding Problems, Part 1: The Issues
and Part 2: Therapy Alternatives, Suzanne Evans Morris PhD., Speech-Language
Pathologist, New Visions, 2000
Guidelines For Success – Enhancing Infant Readiness For Supplemental Foods,
Suzanne Evans Morris, PhD., Speech-Language Pathologist, New Visions, 1997
Heartburn and Hiatus Hernia, by Dr. Matin D. Smith, University of Iowa Medical
Center, 2002
Hiatus Hernia, Jackson Gastroenterology, 423 North 21st Street, Suite 100, Camp
Hill, Pa. 17011, 2002
Hiccups, Dr M. P. Churchill, 2001
Hiccups, Safe Natural Cures
How I Do It – Laparoscopic Anterior Fundoplication by A. Munro, Department of
Surgery, Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, UK, J.R. Coll.Surg.Edinb, 45, April, 2000,
Pages 93-98
How To Care For Your Feeding Tube (Gastrostomy Tube), Dr. Mel Sharafuddin,
Iowa Endovascular Department, University Of Iowa Health Care
Illustrated Guide to Diagnostic Tests – Laboratory Tests, Diagnostic Procedures,
Nursing Implications, Chapter 27, Pages 804 – 869, Springhouse Publishing
Company, 1998
Implantable Therapies For Chronic Pain And Neurological Disorders, Advanced
Neuromodulation Systems, Inc. 2001-2002
Infections – Appendicitis, Dr. Winston Greene, Kid’s Health, November,
2002ntroductory Anatomy: Digestive System, Dr. D. R. Johnson, Centre for Human
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Keith D. Lindor, MD, Department of Internal Medicine,
Division of Gastroenterology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
Issues In The Anatomy And Physiology Of Swallowing: Impact On The Assessment
And Treatment Of Children With Dysphagia, Suzanne Evans Morris, PhD., SpeechLanguage Pathologist, New Visions, 1998
Lactose Intolerance, the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse,
NIH Publication No. 02-2751, May, 2002
Management of Constipation in the Terminally Ill Patient, Ken MacKinnon, October
14, 1997
Managing PEG Tubes And Feeding Tubes, Theresa M. Ortega and Marcella F. Harb-
Hauser, Max’s House
Mouth Stuffing, Suzanne Evans Morris PhD., Speech-Language Pathologist, New
Visions, 1998
Nasal Gastric Bolus Feeding, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, 19992002
Nausea and Vomiting as Symptoms and Side Effects, Power-Grape – a Digest of
Disease Management News, February 1999 Volume 3, Number 2
Oncology – Percutaneous Endoscopic Stomas For Enteral Feeding and Drainage,
Moshe Shike, MD, Gastroenterology – Nutrition Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering
Cancer Center, New York, Volume 9, No 1, January 1995
Parenteral Feeding Administration and Dosage, Patient Teaching, Chapter 8, Pages
204 – 253, Nurses Reference Library, Springhouse Publishing Company, 1986
Procedures, Chapter 10, Pages 514 – 581, Nurses Reference Library, Springhouse
Publishing Company, 1986
Questions and Answers About Hiccups, Larry R. Nolan, President
of Nolan Research Inc, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Refusal Of First Foods, Suzanne Evans Morris PhD., Speech-Language Pathologist,
New Visions, 1997
Signs and Symptoms, Pages, 15, 102, 111,132, 253-254, 291, 312, 366, 382, 474-510,
635, 766, 777-778, Nurses Reference Library, Springhouse Publishing Company,
Swallowing Disorders, by Peter J. Casano, MD, American Academy of
Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, One Prince Street, Alexandria, VA
22314-3357, 1-800-836-4444, 2002
Treatments, Chapter 4, Pages 138 – 191, Chapter 5, Pages 192 – 235, Nurses
Reference Library, Springhouse Publishing Company, 1986
Tabers Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Edition 11, FA Davis Company
Tube Feeding, Betsy Gettig, MS, CGC & Toni Finney, BS, Department Of Human
Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, September 5, 2000
Tube Feeding In Degenerative Syndromes, Polly Green, B.S., M.S., Kennedy Krieger
Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
Tube Feeding Management
Tube Feeding: Medical Treatment or Basic Care? Adrian Treoloar & Philip Howard,
August 1998, CMQ
Tube Feeding With Gravity Feeding Set – Home Care, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Medical Center, 1999-2002
Vomiting and Diarrhea – Caring For A Child With Vomiting And Diarrhea, Dr. Suser,
Surge Electronics Media, Inc.
What are hiccups? Why do we hiccup? Is there a way to stop them? Marvels of
the Human Body, Reader’s Digest Book of Facts, April, 1997
When A Child Aspirates, Suzanne Evans Morris PhD., Speech-Language Pathologist,
New Visions, 1998
Why Am I Constipated? National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse,
NIH Publication No. 02-4157, March 2002
Why Evaluate And Treat: Mild Feeding Delays And Limitations, Suzanne Evans
Morris PhD., Speech-Language Pathologist, New Visions, 1997
Your Feeding Tube Placement, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Wake
Forest University Baptist Medical Center

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