Stomach Ache in Babies- Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
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Tummy aches can arrive out of the blue and hit your baby hard. Stomach aches are quite a common condition in newborns. Since the baby is unable to articulate the feeling of pain, it always results in him crying. But deciding what is bothering the baby is no child’s play. A stomach ache can be due to various health issues, and we have listed some common causes of stomach ache along with symptoms and causes.
Video: Stomach Ache in Babies – Causes and Remedies
Common Symptoms of Stomach Ache in Babies
Some signs to look out for in your baby to see if he has a tummy ache:
- Acting more fussy or grumpy than usual
- Crying an unusual amount
- Squirming or tensing up of muscles
- Disturbed sleep
- Not feeding regularly
Common Reasons for Stomach Pain in Babies with Remedies
Here are some of the causes of stomach ache in babies:
Colic is characterised by incessant crying in infants. It occurs in babies who are 2- 3 weeks old and can last till they are 4-5 months old. It can also be called newborn gas pain. If your baby cries for as long as 2 hours a day for three days a week, it could be colic.
The causes of colic are not known exactly. It might be caused due to inhalation of excess air or indigestion. Some also wonder if some babies might be intolerant toward substances present in mother’s milk.
The baby might arch his back and bend his knees while crying. The abdominal muscles might get tensed, and baby might pass excess gas.
Warm baths, warm compress on the tummy, knee push up exercises can ease the pain and help relieve the excess gas. There are no medications to treat colic. If it is severe, seek your doctor’s advice. Fennel tea, basil tea, and peppermint tea are home remedies for your child’s stomach pain caused due to colic. These natural substances have antispasmodic and anti-flatulence properties useful for treating gastrointestinal problems. If you do plan to give your baby any of these types of tea, ensure that you consult your paediatrician regarding side-effects, dosage, and how it should be given to your baby.
Constipation commonly occurs in babies who have started solids. If your baby appears uncomfortable during a bowel movement or hasn’t had one in three days, it might be constipation.
It can be due to a milk allergy, lack of fibre in the baby’s diet, not having enough water, or due to holding in of bowel movement.
If the baby is constipated, the poop might come out as dry, hard stools. Also, look out if your baby is straining to poop. Any colour changes in the poop such as red, black, or maroon can be a cause of worry.
If your baby has started on solids, give him foods that can ease constipation, such as pear, prune, oatmeal, and peas. Light exercises can also help; lay your baby on his back and move his legs in a cycling motion. Use an infant glycerine suppository if the doctor says it’s safe to do so since it provides lubrication for the baby to pass stools.
This happens when the passageway between the oesophagus and stomach is not working properly. Reflux occurs when the food from the baby’s stomach comes back up and causes the baby to spit it out. It is also called gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and is rarely serious.
Reflux can occur due to an immature lower oesophagal sphincter (LES), which is a ring muscle that passes the food down the oesophagus and keeps it down in the stomach. Immature LES can open up and cause the food to come up.
Symptoms include gagging, choking, coughing, wheezing, and spitting up food. Reflux also causes babies to cry a lot during and after a feed.
Frequent feeding can help. Also, keeping the babies head at an elevation using pillows after a feed is a good idea. Doctors might also prescribe medicines to reduce the acid in the stomach so that the discomfort during throwing up is reduced.
Diarrhoea leads to the watery stools. It can cause dehydration in babies.
It is commonly caused due to exposure to a virus known as rotavirus. Bacterial strains such as campylobacter, salmonella, escherichia coli can also cause diarrhoea. Another common cause is contaminated food and parasites.
Runny stools along with general signs of discomfort or fever.
Since diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, intake of fluids in the form of water or breast milk is important. Consulting a doctor is highly recommended since you could receive a prescription for paediatric oral rehydration. Also, if your baby has started to take solid foods you must ensure that you give him healthy and light foods.
It is a rare condition that causes abdominal pain in babies and can occur when the baby is around 8-14 months. This occurs when one part of the intestine slides into another causing blockage and pain. This cuts off the supply of blood and other fluids.
The causes of this condition in infants are not clearly known, while in adults, this can be caused due to a tumour.
Your baby might pull up legs towards the stomach, vomit frequently, and pass dark, bloody stools containing mucus.
Consult a doctor; your baby will likely have to go through an x-ray called barium enema that can push back the intestine.
6. Temporary Lactose Intolerance
This intolerance occurs when the body does not produce lactase enzyme that breaks down the sugar present in milk and other dairy products.
This condition occurs in infants with gastrointestinal ailments such as stomach flu and diarrhoea. These ailments can damage the lining of the small intestine making it difficult to digest lactose.
Some common symptoms are diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, bloating, and gas.
Don’t give your baby any dairy product for a few days and discuss your baby’s condition with a paediatrician.
7. Motion Sickness
If your baby gets sick almost during car trips, it might be motion sickness. It usually causes stomach problems in babies, accompanied by sickness. But motion sickness is rare in babies who are less than two years of age.
Motion sickness occurs when there is a disconnect between what the baby sees and what they sense with the motion-sensitive parts of the body, such as ears and nerves.
Motion sickness is usually accompanied by tummy aches and nausea. The feeling of nausea can cause the baby to salivate more and drool. The baby might turn pale too.
Take short breaks in between your journey. Also, plan your travel to coincide with the baby’s nap time. Ensure that the car does not smell. Fresh air will do a lot of good.
It is an inflammation of the appendix that rarely occurs in newborn babies. The appendix is an appendage at the lower right corner of the abdominal cavity; when blocked, it swells up and causes pain.
The inflammation occurs when bacteria get trapped in the appendix by hard stools or a large nymph node compressing and blocking the opening. This causes swelling, that, in turn, increases the pressure and causes sharp pain.
Your baby will cry incessantly from the pain. Other symptoms include fever, vomiting, and sometimes diarrhoea.
Surgical removal of the appendix is the only solution, to prevent the appendix from bursting. There is no need to worry since this is a common condition experienced by many people.
9. Paediatric Hernia
This is a condition that occurs when the small or large intestine slides out of the abdominal cavity causing discomfort and infection. There are two types of a hernia possible, inguinal hernia and umbilical hernia. When the intestine slips into the inguinal canal and causes swelling around the groin, it is called an inguinal hernia. An umbilical hernia occurs when the intestine slides out of a damaged abdominal wall behind the navel.
Weak abdominal muscles are the main factors leading to a hernia. In boys, it occurs if the inguinal canal is not closed properly and a part of the intestine moves into the canal.
A hernia is characterised by a full rounded belly, vomiting, pain, and fever.
Surgical intervention is required for this condition. A hernia might also close on its own over a period, but the pain can cause a need for medical intervention.
10. Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infection can occur in infants as early as 12 months. It causes pain in the lower abdomen. A bacterial infection anywhere along the tract can lead to this condition.
The infection commonly occurs when bacteria from outside gets inside the bladder or urethra. This condition is not caused by lack of hygiene.
Fever, crying during urination (that indicates pain), and odd-smelling urine are some of the symptoms.
Antibiotics are used to treat this infection. Consult a doctor to get a prescription for an antibiotic suitable for the baby’s age. Also, take care to complete the entire course of antibiotics to completely cure the condition.
Tips to Soothe Your Baby’s Stomach Ache
- Give him a tummy massage, by gently massaging your baby’s belly in a circular motion to relieve the stomach ache.
- A warm bath may help in relaxing your baby and soothe his tummy ache as well.
- Remember to burp your baby after every feed to prevent gastric issues and stomach aches.
- Move your baby’s legs in a cycling motion to help him pass gas.
Stomach pains in babies can be due to a lot of reasons, but it is rare that the pain is due to a serious disease or condition. Most of these pains can be treated at home or go away after a while. Consulting a doctor is essential not only to determine the cause for the pain but also to find the suitable treatment that will relieve the pain.
Also Read: Stomach Pain in Kids