Necrotizing Enterocolitis – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments of this condition. In addition, Necrotizing Enterocolitis is a serious disease that occurs when intestinal tissue becomes damaged and begins to die. It usually affects premature children. Common symptoms include bloating or swelling in the abdomen, bloody stools, and diarrhea .
It is important to call your baby’s doctor right away if they have symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis . The condition can become fatal if left untreated. Treatment for Necrotizing Enterocolitis may include antibiotics , intravenous (IV) fluids, or surgery. Once they receive treatment, most children make a full recovery without complications.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis is a disease that develops when tissue in the inner lining of the large or small intestine becomes damaged and begins to die. This causes the intestines to become inflamed. The condition usually only affects the inner lining of the intestine , but the entire thickness of the intestine can eventually become impacted.
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In severe cases of Necrotizing Enterocolitis , a hole can form in the bowel wall . If this occurs, bacteria normally found inside the intestine can leak into the abdomen and cause a generalized infection. This is considered a medical emergency.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis can develop in any newborn within two weeks of birth. However, it is more common in premature babies, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. About 10 percent of babies who weigh less than 3 pounds, develop Necrotizing Enterocolitis .
Symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis: Symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis usually include the following:
Your baby may also show symptoms of an infection, such as:
- Apnea or interrupted breathing
Causes of Necrotizing Enterocolitis: The exact cause of Necrotizing Enterocolitis is not known. However, lack of oxygen during a difficult delivery is believed to be a contributing factor.
When there is reduced oxygen or blood flow to the intestine , it can become weak. A weakened state makes it easier for food bacteria that enter the intestine to damage intestinal tissues. This can lead to the development of an infection or Necrotizing Enterocolitis .
Other risk factors include having too many red blood cells and having another gastrointestinal condition. Your baby is also at higher risk for Necrotizing Enterocolitis if they were born prematurely. Premature babies often have underdeveloped body systems. This can cause them to have difficulty with digestion, fighting infection, and circulating blood and oxygen.
Diagnoses of Necrotizing Enterocolitis: A doctor can diagnose Necrotizing Enterocolitis by doing a physical exam and running several tests. During the exam, the doctor will gently touch your baby’s abdomen to check for swelling , pain, and tenderness. They will then perform an abdominal x-ray.
The X-ray will provide detailed images of the bowel , allowing the doctor to look for signs of inflammation and damage more easily. Your baby’s stool may also be tested to look for the presence of blood. This is called a stool guaiac test.
Your baby’s doctor may also order certain blood tests to measure your baby’s platelet levels and white blood cell count. Platelets make blood clot possible. White blood cells help fight infection. Low platelet levels or a high white blood cell count can be a sign of Necrotizing Enterocolitis .
Your baby’s doctor may need to insert a needle into your baby’s abdominal cavity to check for fluid in the intestine . The presence of intestinal fluid usually means there is a hole in the intestine .
Treatment of Necrotizing Enterocolitis: There are numerous different ways to treat Necrotizing Enterocolitis . Your child’s specific treatment plan will depend on several factors, including:
- The severity of the disease
- Your child’s age
- Your child’s general health
In most cases, however, your doctor will tell you to stop breastfeeding. Your baby will receive her fluids and nutrients intravenously or through an IV. Your baby will likely need antibiotics to help fight the infection. If your baby has difficulty breathing due to a swollen abdomen, they will be given extra oxygen or breathing assistance.
Surgery may be necessary in severe cases of Necrotizing Enterocolitis . The procedure involves removing the damaged parts of the intestine . Throughout the treatment, your baby will be closely monitored. Your baby’s doctor will perform x-rays and blood tests regularly to make sure the condition doesn’t get worse.