What is life like with Hirschsprung's disease?


Quick Answer

Newborns with Hirschsprung's disease may live with swollen bellies, vomiting, constipation, gas and diarrhea, notes Mayo Clinic. Older children with the disease may live with symptoms such as chronic constipation, fatigue, gas, failure to gain weight and swollen bellies.

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Full Answer

Hirschsprung's disease appears at birth, and missing nerve cells in the muscles of all or part of the colon cause the disease, states Mayo Clinic. Children who have the condition are at risk of contracting enterocolitis, a colon infection that leads to hospital visits for colon cleaning and treatment with antibiotics. A buildup of stool containing harmful bacteria behind damaged portions of the colon causes these infections in people with Hirschsprung's disease, and the condition can be life-threatening.

In order for doctors to diagnose Hirschsprung's disease, a child may have to have abdominal X-rays, the inflation of a balloon in his rectum to measure muscle control, and biopsies so doctors can examine tissues, according to Mayo Clinic. Following surgery to address Hirschsprung's disease, in which doctors usually bypass diseased portions of the colon, most children can pass stool normally, but are still at risk of infections. Even after surgery, some children with Hirschsprung's disease may still have difficulty with toilet training, swollen bellies, constipation and leaking of stool.

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