Abdominal pain is a common occurrence among children, especially those under the age of 12.
It can be caused by different reasons such as excessive eating, a pressured need to excrete, anxiety or stress, etc.
Stomach ache in children is not a serious issue and it goes away without treatment. However, if your child complains of abdominal pain frequently, it might have an underlying cause that should be examined and treated by a professional.
Causes of Stomach Ache in Children
- Constipation: This is a common problem in children. A child suffering from constipation has bowel movements (fewer than three bowel movements in one week) or stools that are painful or difficult to pass. In most cases, constipation in children is temporary.
- Gastroenteritis: This is also called the stomach flu. It is a type of illness that causes vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach pain. It happens when viruses and bacteria infect the stomach, causing inflammation. Rotavirus is usually the most common and is responsible for many cases of stomach flu in children. The rotavirus vaccine can help prevent them. This can last for a few days.
- Food poisoning: This happens when a child ingests food that contains harmful germs, often due to poor preparation and storage. Symptoms are similar to gastroenteritis. Most cases of food poisoning get better quickly without treatment. You are advised to encourage your child to drink a lot of liquid during this period as food poisoning also causes dehydration.
- Abdominal trauma: Children often bump into things, fall, or become injured during sports. If they hurt their abdomen, they may experience pain in that region. This is serious in some cases and should not be treated with an absent-minded attitude.
- Menstruation: Females may experience cramps in the lower belly or pelvis when they have a period. This painful cramping is known as dysmenorrhea. It occurs during the first 1 or 2 days of a girl’s period.
Normal cramps happen in over 60% of girls and are caused by strong muscle squeezing of the uterus. This is triggered by a high prostaglandin (a hormone) level. Cramps range from mild to moderate, and severe which stops the child from carrying out normal activities. You are advised to seek medical help for your child if she experiences severe cramps.
Symptoms of Stomach Ache
The signs of stomach ache in children vary by its causes and the intensity of the pain. Some of the noticeable symptoms in a child include;
- Curling up in a ball
- Wanting to stay still
- Swelling of the affected region
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Being fussy or grumpy
Management of Stomach Ache in Children
A parent’s reaction to a child’s complaint of stomach ache depends on the level of pain the child seems to be in and how often he or she has complained of such pain.
Here are a few ways to manage your child’s stomach ache before seeking professional help.
- Encourage your child to drink a lot of fluids. This is important because it prevents dehydration.
- Encourage your child to relieve their bowels. Sometimes the pain reduces after a bowel movement.
- Encourage the child to lie down. Helping the child lay face down may help relieve gas pain, but the best position is that which relieves the child of the pain, even if a little.
- It is not advisable to force them to eat during this period because it might lead to them throwing up and other minor complications. The child should let you know when he or she is willing to eat.
- Rubbing a child’s tummy can ease the pain.
- Avoid giving them substances that are caffeinated or carbonated until after the pain is gone.
- You can give them pain relief drugs like Ibuprofen or paracetamol. If it does not ease the pain, please do not administer another dose, reach out to a doctor.
If abdominal pain persists for more than a day without a probable cause, occurs frequently, causes them to have a fever or look pale and makes them constantly vomit, please reach out to a family doctor or take them to the hospital.
Doctors will usually use a combination of questioning and tests to determine the cause of abdominal pain in children.
A doctor may also recommend tests to determine the cause, such as:
1. Blood tests
2. urine or stool samples
In conclusion, stomach ache is temporary and caused by minor issues. When you notice that your child has stomach ache, it is important to ask them questions to determine how they feel. This can help you assist them in the most effective way possible. If their symptoms persist or return frequently, reach out to a professional. He or she might run a series of tests to determine what the issue is, but your child will be fine in the end.
Researched By: Safiya Onayi Ahmed