ache, is a common childhood complaint. Everything from the
flu to school avoidance will bring on the claim of a bellyache.
Being able to distinguish between various types of stomach
aches is a parents crusade.
a stomach ache that is brought on by stress, fear, school
phobia, etc. appears suddenly and is very hard to comfort.
If the stress is eliminated (you don't have to go to school
today) the pain usually leaves abruptly or only lingers
a bit as a vague ache. This pain is not in most cases contrived
- it is real, related to acid production, often in families
with histories of "sensitive stomachs" or ulcers and can
be seen in very young children (age 3 and up). The "cure"
is reassurance, understanding, teaching relaxation, fixing
whatever stresses can be fixed (a bully in school can be
behind many a school "phobia" and the attendant stress belly
ache - speak to the teachers) and sometimes a dose of antacids
will provide enough temporary relief to get your child out
of a major moaning episode. Obviously this is not all that
needs to be done since these aches will return with the
next stress but it is an immediate method of relief and
a great comfort to both the child and the parent. Some stomach
aches are the result of dietary indiscretions like too much
candy at the fair. These aches are usually accompanied by
passing gas and cramps that get better after a bowel movement
(often diarrhea) happens. Antacids for children may also
help here as well as a tummy rub while sitting your child
on the toilet. Keep your eyes open at parties and picnics
for what your child is eating - especially avoid under cooked
meats and mayonnaise containing salads - these can lead
to far worse than just a stomach ache. If in fact your child's
pain is excessive and also comes with vomiting or diarrhea
or fever, see a doctor and take a sample of the food with
you if possible. There are bacteria that can cause this
that require immediate and vigorous medical treatment and
time is important. Very unusual reasons for stomach aches
exist - strep throat infection, bladder infection, hiatus
hernia, and the most well known and feared reason, appendicitis.
Appendicitis is not rare but also not common. A child with
developing appendicitis may only complain about a vague
stomach ache at first but then the pain will generally move
from the "stomach area" to the lower right side of the abdomen
and become very sharp and almost unbearable. Some children
vomit once or twice and usually do not have a fever but
if your child's pain is becoming more severe, let the doctor
examine him. It is sometimes hard even for the doctor to
tell the difference between a stomach flu and appendicitis
but there are tricks and tools that doctors have to help
tell the difference so don't delay getting help. Usually
an appendicitis attack takes many hours to become an emergency
but it is unpredictable.
stomach aches are brief, relieved by simple comforts like
tea and a tummy rub, or a bowel movement (even constipation
can cause stomach aches), and do not represent serious illness.
Always evaluate the severity of your child's pain by checking
if distraction or reassurance helps and if it does and your
child can get up and walk comfortably, you can safely wait
it out a while unless symptoms worsen. Avoid food during
a belly ache and stick to clear room temperature liquids.
common childhood complaint, everything from school avoidance
to serious intestinal disease can be the reason for a complaint
of stomach ache. Most simple stomach aches are located in
the centre of the abdomen and are dull or cramp in description
and come and go rather than remaining steady and unremitting
for long periods.
the case of stomach aches from nervous tension or dietary
indiscretion (too much candy at the party), pain lasts for
under 2 hours and resolves with little intervention, and
maybe a large, loose bowel movement. Children's antacids
may be helpful as l long as vomiting is not part of the
picture in which case a physician should be contacted before
any treatment is given. Clear room temperature liquids such
as flat soda or tea can help to relieve pain.
There are other unusual causes for similar abdominal pain
that need attention. Strep throat, bladder infections, hiatus
hernia, and the early stages of appendicitis can all look
like simple stomach aches. A child with developing appendicitis
may only co plain about a vague stomach ache at first but
then the pain will generally move from the "stomach area"
to the lower right side of the abdomen and become very sharp
and almost unbearable. Some children vomit once or twice
and usually do not have a fever.
to call the doctor
If your child's pain is not responding to the usual comforts
or if there is associated vomiting or diarrhea a call to
the doctor may be very helpful. Any pain that is sharp and
prevents your child from walking even with encouragement
necessitates a doctor's attention. If your child has a bloody
or tarry stool with abdominal pain see your doctor immediately.
Pain that radiates to the back or makes urinating difficult
is also a cause for concern.
Keep alert at picnics and parties for what your child is
eating - especially avoid undercooked meats and anything
containing mayonnaise - these foods can lead to far worse
than a temporary belly ache. If you believe your child has
eaten spoiled food take a sample with you. Some alterations
in a child's diet can relieve recurrent abdominal pain once
you are sure there is no more serious cause for the repeated
episodes. Elimination of dairy, excessive amounts of sweets,
and in some cases reduction of starch if your child gets
easily constipated can change the day to day comfort level.