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Like father like son


Passionate Dreamer
I’ve had Crohn for more than 30 years. I would say the severity of my Crohn is ‘intermediate’. I am living a plenty life but with some efforts. I had two surgeries so far and I had long times in remission as same as long times taking meds.

I have two beautiful kids and unfortunately one of my worst nightmares became reality. My 10 years old kid was diagnosed with Crohn this year.

We have been struggling with him for more than a year. He started with lack of appetite and avoided some foods such as red meat. At the beginning we took that as something normal for a kid that becomes more wayward / picky. But then he avoided more types of food and also ate very small portions. I wanted doctors to check for IBD on him but they didn’t. Unfortunately they follow some protocols but not their instincts (or common sense). IBD is not in the radar for kids even having a family background. He started to loss weight and we send him to psychotherapy. After a year we saw blood in his stools and that convinced doctors to deeply test for IBD (colonoscopy). Unfortunately I couldn't convince doctors to test him earlier. We would have started a treatments sooner. On the bright side he is not experiencing any pain but he has strong diarrhea.

All this journey of meeting new doctors, blood test everywhere, hospital, and the endoscopic studies ended up ruining his mood. Now he eats very little and developed phagophobia (fear to swallow). He thinks there is something wrong in his throat and he refuses to shallow. It takes an hour and a half for him to finish half portion of food. Lunch / Dinner time is not enjoyable any more for him (neither the rest of the family). We added some nutritional supplements on his diet (Pediasure). Now we are dealing with Crohn Diesease and Phagophobia and that is an extra challenge for us to follow a healthy diet.

I was always aware that autoimmune disorders are genetic, ie. my father had arthritis but since my kid was diagnosed I can’t help being extremely sad and I think I will never be the same. I hope the treatments start working for him to give us some relief. I am sorry to share this sad story and these negative feelings, but this is how it goes. I hope someone can benefit from reading it.
Sorry to hear it and hope your boy responds quickly to treatment. A couple of thoughts firstly with the swallowing fear I wonder if he would prefer a very smooth textured diet the IBD AID is supposed to be anti-inflammatory for Crohn’s and starts with basically mush/ smoothies/ soups. If he is interested there is a very helpful Facebook group who share recipes that are much nicer than those on the UMASS website (unless your boy enjoys cold avocado soup, I suppose someone has to). The other thought is whether he would benefit from child psychologist referral may be worth asking the doctors. It’s a lot to come to terms with at any age and the fear of swallowing too, poor thing.
Psychiatric explanations for the appetite/swallowing issues are probably wrong. He has problems with his digestion, and that's probably causing all of this. Sending the poor boy to psychotherapy rather than figuring out the underlying problem sounds all too common for our medical system. When doctors can't explain something, they just assume wrongly that it's psychiatric.

(This probably isn't what's going on with your son, but my son had some swallowing issues caused by Remicade.)

Anyway, now that he has a Crohn's diagnosis, the top priority has to be making all of that inflammation go away. Since he has trouble with swallowing, EEN with a nasogastric tube could help a lot. EEN (consuming an all-formula diet with no food) can bring down inflammation fast.

my little penguin

Staff member
Did they do an upper endoscopy as well as a colonoscopy?
Especially if he is taking his time swallowing .
Crohns can affect anywhere from the mouth to the anus including the esophagus.
Has he had imaging (MRE )? And capsule endoscopy?
Is he being seen by a pediatric IBD specialist?
They tend to have therapists on staff for medical coping for kids .

Een (exclusive enteral nutrition ) - formula only no solid foods can be used as a treatment for crohns
It’s commonly used in kids
My child (adult now ) was only 7 at dx and did een for 9 weeks which was tough
But it stopped his vomiting and help him feel better while we waited for meds to kick in
Unfortunately the med journey took close to a year to find the one which did the trick

no family history here and it took two years of my kiddo not gaining /losing weight before they checked(he also started bleeding so that was the tipping point )

unfortunately it is very common
That said very early onset ibd is extremely rare
Kids dx at age 10 or less is only 2% of all pediatric crohns patients
Numbers getting increasing small the younger they are at dx
Hugs 🤗


Passionate Dreamer
Thank you all for your advice and comments. My kid had upper endoscopy as well and his esophagus and stomach has no issues. The first part with little signs of inflammation is the ileum. And thanks Good he never said he had pain but from time to time he throws up.

Regarding mental health I know some people think, "you are too nervous, that’s why you have digestive problems" and I strongly disagree with that. I think is the other way about. Crohn’s suffers are a healthy persons that all of a sudden get this heavy disease and because of this many other aspects of our lives gets affected and that ends up causing us lots of stress and anxiety. Every time I travel for vacations I check which hospitals are near the vacation area, to say the least.

In the particular case of my son I think all this stress caused him phagophobia. He starts eating with some enthusiasm but he just does not swallow. He keeps adding more and more food into his mouth and never stop chewing. As he add tons of food into his mouth without swallowing his cheeks inflates as same as squirrels do when they carry food. The mouth never empties, chewing never ends and he never swallows. Then having the moth flooded with chowed food, the food breaks into into the digestive system as if you unblock a sewer on a flooded area. The last bites are the long lasting ones, as there is no new food to do pressure into the mouth. He ends up drinking some water to finish. In same occasions he waits for us to be distracted to spit the remaining food somewhere. Of course we talked a lot, believe me A LOT about this, about the importance of good feeding. But he just can’t explain what he does it this way. If you read this and doesn’t know my kid you may think he has down syndrome or autism, but he is perfectly normal in all other aspects of his life. He performs very well as school in maths, sports, etc. But this is just insane.
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my little penguin

Staff member
So in kids with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)
They typically associate eating with pain /vomiting
Getting the disease inflammation under control first is key especially for crohns kids
Definitely ask the Gi about doing een (pediasure ) can be used if he is willing to drink it
It’s as effective as steriods in reducing inflammation.
It will calm the inflammation and pain down
Most kids are in pain but don’t express it because they don’t know what it is like to feel normal

once the inflammation is down then medical coping/speech therapy can work on solid food with him

formula only can be simply him drinking it
No tube required

Provide he has no issues with liquids

Inflammation in the gut can also cause gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying) so the kiddo really doesn’t want to eat since nausea becomes an issue

Liquids empty in an hour
Solids take 4 hours in normal folks
Longer with gastroparesis

definitely speak to his Gi


Staff member
I agree that you should check and see if a) the IBD could be causing swallowing problems
b) If something like EoE could be causing swallowing problems
c) If a motility issue like Gastroparesis is affecting his appetite - my daughter has Gastroparesis and she would get so nauseous after eating that eventually she was subsisting on less then 500 calories and lost roughly 25 lbs, which made her dangerously underweight
d) if GERD could be causing reflux that is making swallowing difficult

I don't know if this is a test he can do, but have they done something like a Barium swallow test to see if he is able to swallow normally.

What treatment is he on for his IBD? If he has no other GI conditions and truly has phagophobia, then EEN might be a good idea though I wonder if it would worsen his phagophobia by making him used to drinking only liquids. Feeding therapy or speech therapy might be a good idea.

While I agree in general that doctors are too quick to say "it's all in your head," I honestly think seeing a psychologist can help most, if not all, kids with IBD. Now pediatric GI departments often have psychologists who work with kids with chronic GI illnesses. My daughter saw a psychologist in the GI department for years. She was a stubborn teenager when diagnosed and really did not want to see a psychologist. But luckily, her GI insisted and she finally went and it took some times, but her psychologist helped her SO much. It really and truly made a world of difference and pretty soon my daughter was reminding me to schedule appointments with her psychologist for her. Her psychologist helped her cope with the IBD diagnosis, a Gastroparesis diagnosis, severe weight loss and malnutrition that required a feeding tube (first an NG tube, then an NJ tube and finally a surgically placed tube in her belly), with MANY feeding tube changes and other procedures and with multiple hospitalizations and surgeries.

Is your son seeing a pediatric GI at a children's hospital? Most big children's hospitals now have IBD centers. Some of the best ones are CHOP (In Philadelphia), Cincinnati Children's and Boston Children's - just in case you're near any of those. I will also say that we found that a second opinion was immensely helpful in figuring out if we were on the right path.