Stomach Aches

This can be a tough and simple topic.  I think as a parent we are often prone to think of the worst case scenario when it comes to our kids and illness or pain.  In young children stomach aches are usually a symptom of something else and not a health problem all unto it’s self.  There are cases of appendicitis, bowel blockages, and other serious surgical emergencies of which I will provide some of the symptoms to watch for.  However, most stomach discomforts are not serious and resolve on their own.

Unfortunately stomach aches can be either benign or serious with the child not changing the complaint or symptoms much.  It is one of the most common complains of children, but fortunately it usually improves quite rapidly.

The Most Common Reasons for Stomach aches:

(Most of these reasons can be evaluated and treated at home.  If you think your child is suffering from one of these symptoms, but feel he/she needs to be evaluated by a medical professional then trust your instincts.  A parent knows his child best.)

  • Stress – stress in children can often manifest itself physically.  It could be as simple as concern about what is for lunch tomorrow, to family problems, problems at school, or one of many other childhood concerns.  Pay attention to your child and how they are feeling and what they are worried about.  Don’t just blow it off as a childhood concern.  Experience it with them and help them walk through it.
  • Hunger – goes without saying. EAT!
  • Food poisoning – usually accompanied with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  Also another family member should be experiencing similar symptoms if exposed to the same foods.
  • Infection – like gastroenteritis.  Doesn’t usually need any kind of treatment.  Treat the symptoms and let it run its course.
  • Gas – having eating high gassy foods like beans or broccoli or cabbage recently
  • Constipation – This can cause pain and discomfort and nausea and vomiting if it is left for too long.

More Serious Reasons for Stomach Aches:

(These illnesses are much more rare, but if you are concerned your child may have one of these then please consult a health care professional sooner rather than later.  These illnesses are more severe and some need immediate hospitalization and sometimes surgery.  I don’t want to scare or illicit fear, but I do want your child to be safe and healthy.)

  • Poisoning – More common in young toddlers. Those curious to drink detergent, open grandma’s medications, eating soap or a myriad of other poisons around our homes.  Be sure to lock cabinets with these type of ingredients and if a child complains of a stomach ache be sure to investigate if this could be the cause.  This is much more serious and severe and definitely needs investigation BEFORE other symptoms develop.  Call Poison Control for advice 1-800-222-1222
  • Urinary Tract Infection – is not very common in children, but it does happen.  Usually have symptoms of low abdominal pressure, frequency of urination, urgency of urination, burning or pain on urination and sometimes low back pain, fever, nausea and vomiting.
  • Appendicitis – Usual symptoms may include fever, right lower abdominal pain which is worse with movement, walking or pressing on it, nausea and vomiting.  Often the pain starts as a diffuse pain around the navel and then in the next 24 hours moves to the lower right abdomen.
  • Intussusception – Not very common, but does happen in infants.  This can be a life-threatening condition if not treated.  Symptoms usually start suddenly with severe abdominal pain, decreased activity (lethargy), blood or mucus in stools, vomiting that appear green.
  • Bowel Obstruction – Cramping abdominal pain that comes and goes.  Usually at or below the navel. Usually includes vomiting, inability to pass stool or gas and bloating.

Remedies for tummy ache:

  • Warm bath – helps relax muscles and soothe tensions
  • Heating pad – also helps relax muscles
  • If opting for traditional pain medication I recommend Tylenol.  Motrin/Ibuprofen/Advil all increase the risk of bleeding and also can cause stomach upset, which is often a real concern with stomach aches to begin with
  • Give lots of hugs and kisses and continue to monitor for changes in symptoms.

I hope you are on your way to health soon and that this post directs you in the right direction either to trust your instincts and treat at home or go see your physician!

Medical Disclaimer: This information is meant to inform and not diagnose or treat illness or disease.  Before trying any of the ideas posted please research for yourself in order to make an educated decision.  Also, consult your doctor if tying to treat medical conditions.

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