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Stomach pain is a common complaint among children of all ages and can be caused by various reasons, some serious and others not. Read on to discover the various causes and remedies of the symptom.
What is Abdominal Pain in Children?
Stomach or abdominal pain in a child is the pain around the tummy area. The pain can be anywhere from the chest to the groin area of the child. Stomach pain is a very common medical problem in children and most cases of stomach pain are not of great concern. However, some stomach pain cases can be of serious concern.
Causes of Stomach Ache in Kids
There are a number of reasons that may cause stomach ache in kids. Following are some of the common causes:
1. Milk Allergy
Some children have an allergic reaction to the protein present in milk, which may cause stomach pain. The milk allergy also causes cramps, vomiting, rashes and diarrhoea in children.
2. Digestion Problems or Constipation
A bad digestion or constipation may also cause stomach pain in children. The lack of fibre and roughage in the diet causes constipation.
3. UTI or Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infection may cause pain and discomfort in the abdomen of your child. The pain associated with UTI is generally noticed in the lower abdominal region.
4. Strep Throat Infection
Apart from fever and sore throat, the child may also experience stomach pain in strep throat infection.
5. Anxiety or Stress-Related Pains
Increased levels of anxiety or stress levels can also trigger abdominal pain in your child. This abdominal pain is generally not accompanied by any other symptoms, such as diarrhoea, fever or vomiting.
6. Lead Poisoning
Lead poisoning is usually seen in younger children, who tend to put everything in their mouths, and this may cause stomach ache. There are other symptoms such as constipation, lethargy and poor appetite, along with stomach ache.
7. Injury to the Stomach
Any kind of injury in the abdominal region can also cause stomach pain in children.
An inflamed appendix can cause intense stomach pain in your child. This is a serious kind of stomach ache and needs immediate medical attention as it can be fatal for your child.
9. Intestinal Problems
Intestinal ailments such as malrotation or intussusceptions may cause pain in the stomach.
Menstruation or periods may also cause stomach pain in girls.
Symptoms of Stomach Pain
You may notice child curling up in pain, crying incessantly or making faces in agony. Following are some observations that will help you assess the symptoms of stomach pain in your child:
1. Duration of the Pain
The normal cases of stomach ache in kids such as gas or stomach flu, do not last long. However, if the pain is for more than 24 hours, you need to seek immediate medical help.
2. Location of the Pain
The usual bouts of stomach ache in children are located in the centre of the abdomen; however, if your child complains of pain in the lower abdominal region or in a particular region, then it may be a cause of concern.
3. Child’s Appearance
You may be able to detect the severity of your child’s condition if you find your child is pale, sweaty, sleepy or listless. The child may refuse to eat and drink.
Fever accompanied by stomach ache is not associated with serious health issues. In fact, in some cases of serious health complications, there may be no fever with the abdominal pain.
Diarrhoea is very common with stomach pain and is generally caused by viral infection. Most bouts of diarrhoea subside within 3 to 4 days but may take longer also. However, if any blood is noticed in the stool, you must seek medical help.
6. Urinary Infection
Your child may complain of stomach pain while urinating. This may be a sign of urinary infection and would require a course of antibiotics.
7. Any Rash
If your child complains of stomach pain and also develops rashes on the skin, you need to get immediate medical help as it may be scarlet fever, Henoch-Schonlein purpura or other such ailments, which are serious medical issues.
8. Groin Pain
Young boys may report stomach ache but the pain may be in their groin area. This may due to testicular torsion, a condition where testicles entwine or become twisted and the blood supply to the area is cut off. This is a case of medical emergency and needs quick action.
Abdominal pain in kids can be because of a number of reasons. The following diagnosis may be prescribed by your doctor to establish the right cause of the pain:
1. Child’s Physical Examination
A physical exam by the doctor will help ascertain the location of the pain. The location of the pain will further help the doctor to determine the exact reason for the pain.
2. Urine Test
Your child’s urine sample may be taken to check any presence of infection.
3. Stool Test
The stool test is recommended to check the presence of any bacteria, parasite or even blood.
4. Blood Test
The doctor may conduct a blood test to check the lead levels, lipase level and also to check the functioning of the liver.
5. Medical History of the Child
The doctor may also inquire about your child’s medical history and even ask about the family’s medical history, to check any autoimmune and other such disorders.
6. Imaging Test
Various imaging test such as X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan may be advised by the doctor, to check any abnormalities in the internal organs and tissues.
7. Other Tests
Apart from the above-mentioned tests, the doctor may conduct other tests depending upon the symptoms of your child. These may include a pelvic examination or anal manometry etc.
Usually, abdominal pain in kids can be treated effectively by following ways:
- Adequate rest helps the child to recover fast.
- In case of diarrhoea and vomiting, make sure the child consumes sufficient fluids.
- Refrain from force-feeding your child; if the child wishes to eat, give light and frequent meals.
- Over the counter medicine for stomach pain is a good option to treat stomach pain, however, it is recommended to consult your doctor before giving any medicine to the child.
How to Prevent Tummy Ache or Stomach Pain?
You may take some of the following measures to help your younger one from getting any tummy ache that may result from indigestion, infection or constipation:
- Include more fibrous foods in your child’s diet to keep constipation and indigestion at bay
- Refrain from eating just before the bed-time, as it may cause indigestion
- Do not let your child eat more at one meal, instead give smaller frequent meals
- Encourage your child to wash hands before and after the meal to keep your child safe from bacterial and viral infections
- Monitor fluid intake of your child as lack of fluids can cause constipation
Some home remedial measures may provide relief from stomach ache to your child:
1. Chamomile Tea
The anti-inflammatory and sedative properties of chamomile tea helps relax the muscles and is very effective in treating stomach cramping.
Yoghurt contains good bacteria which is effective in neutralizing stomach aches that are caused due to bacterial infections.
3. Mint and Lemon
Mint helps to fight harmful bacteria and lemon is effective to deal with constipation. A tea made with lemon and mint is effective in treating stomach pain.
4. Warm Compressions
Warm compressions can be applied to the tummy area of your child; the increased blood flow helps to ease the pain.
Ginger is very effective in stomach aches which result from overeating. However, it is not recommended to give ginger to children below 2 years of age.
Honey is also effective in treating stomach problems because of its antibacterial properties. It is not recommended for children younger than one year.
7. Outdoor Activities
Indulging your child in some outdoor activities helps to relieve constipation and indigestion. The activities such as walking, running, cycling etc are very effective in stimulating the gastrointestinal tract.
When to Seek a Doctor’s Help
Most cases of stomach pains are not serious; however, you should seek medical help for child stomach pain in following cases:
- If your child has had an abdominal injury in the recent past.
- If your child is facing breathing problems.
- If your child’s tummy is very hard and bloated
- If your child experiences sudden and sharp pain attacks
- If you notice any blood in the vomit or stool of your child
- If your child is not able to pass the stool
- If your child is less than three months of age and has diarrhoea
- If your child is feeling pain while urinating
- If your child is undergoing the treatment for cancer
There are many reasons that may cause stomach ache in your child. If you notice that the stomach pain is persistent and does not go away with home remedies, or you notice any worrisome symptoms, it is advised to seek immediate medical help.
Also Read: Knee Pain in Kids