Stomach Aches revisited
This post was originally written in late 2011. As I was reviewing some of the older information on my blog I realized it needed some changing and I had more information and help to offer. I’ve grown a lot in my holistic treatment of “common” childhood illnesses and discomforts. So let me re-address this topic and hopefully provide more help!
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 itself. 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. Generally it’s viral and doesn’t usually need any kind of treatment. Treat the symptoms and let it run its course.
- Gas – having eaten high gassy foods like beans or broccoli or cabbage recently can cause severe and sharp pains. Usually they are relieved by lying down.
- Constipation – This can cause pain and discomfort and nausea and vomiting if it is left for too long. See post on constipation for how treat.
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.)
- Heat exhaustion – If they have been out in the sun too long without drinking enough water they can get dehydrated and if severe enough get heat stroke. Some of the symptoms would include stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, chills, dizziness and hives. Cool them down in a lukewarm bath, encourage fluids with electrolytes like coconut water or gatorade, or something along those lines. If their urine is dark (like tea) or they are unable to keep any fluids down or are disoriented or hallucinating seek emergency help immediately.
- 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. In young children they may not be able to tell you the symptoms they are experiencing, but they may cry on urination or try to hold their urine for as long as possible. This typically needs treatment by a practitioner. Don’t wait too long or it can progress to cause a bladder or kidney infection which is much more severe and could cause hospitalization or if bad enough permanent kidney damage.
- 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. If having these symptoms they should be evaluated by their primary Dr or in the emergency room.
- Intussusception – Not very common, but does happen in infants. This is when the bowel folds in on itself and creates a blockage and often constricts blood flow to the bowels as well. 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. Please seek immediate evaluation in the emergency room.
- 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. This is very rare in children, but possible.
Remedies for tummy ache:
- Warm bath – helps relax muscles and soothe tensions
- Lemon essential oil – on the abdomen for constipation
- Peppermint essential oil – for nausea
- DigestZen essential oil blend for nausea or reflux or stomach ache
- Ginger – helps nausea (ginger chews, ginger tea, or ginger essential oil)
- Belladonna – for inflammation type pain
- Camomile Tea – is an anti-inflammatory – also helps calm spasms and cramping.
- Hydration – make sure they are drinking enough
- 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 trying to treat medical conditions.