Hirschsprung's disease is often diagnosed in the hospital shortly after birth. Signs of the disease can also show up later. If your child has signs or symptoms that worry you, particularly constipation and a swollen abdomen, consult the doctor. You may be referred to a digestive disorders specialist (gastroenterologist) or to the emergency department if your child's symptoms are severe.
Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from the doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions or instructions. When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything your child needs to do in advance.
- Write down any signs or symptoms your child is experiencing, including details about your child's bowel movements — frequency, consistency, color and any associated pain.
- Make a list of your child's key medical information, including other conditions he or she is being treated for and the names of any medications, vitamins or supplements your child is taking. Note how much water your child drinks in a typical day.
- Write down questions to ask your child's doctor.
Questions to ask the doctor
- What is likely causing my child's signs and symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- What kinds of tests does my child need?
- Does my child have other conditions along with Hirschsprung's disease?
- What treatment do you recommend?
- If you recommend surgery, what should I expect from my child's recovery?
- What's the risk of complications from surgery?
- What's my child's long-term prognosis after surgery?
- Will my child need to follow a special diet?
- Are there any other restrictions that my child will need to follow?
- My child has these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from the doctor
Be ready to answer questions the doctor may ask:
March 28, 2013
- When did your child first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your child's symptoms stayed the same or gotten worse?
- How often does your child have a bowel movement?
- Are your child's bowel movements painful?
- Are your child's stools loose? Do they contain blood?
- Has your child been vomiting?
- Does your child tire easily?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your child's symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your child's symptoms?
- Has anyone else in your family been diagnosed with Hirschsprung's disease?
- What medications is your child taking?
- Is there any history of thyroid, parathyroid or glandular disease in your family?
- Has your child been diagnosed with other medical conditions?
- What I need to know about Hischsprung disease. National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hirschsprungs_ez/. Accessed Feb. 1, 2013.
- Kliegman RM. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed Feb. 1, 2013.
- Gunnarsdottir A, et al. Modern treatment of Hirschspring's disease. Scandinavian Journal of Surgery. 2011;100:243.