Stomach Aches in Children - Causes & Symptoms

by Dr. Manjiri Somashekhar

Do you constantly see your child clutching his/her tummy and complaining about stomach aches? Well, you don’t have to worry as stomach aches are quite common among most children between the age group of 3-11 years. However, seeing your child wail and complain about stomach aches is not a pretty sight as it can give you sleepless nights and can make you worried and stressed.

Chronic stomach ache can often last for more than 2 months and sometimes it may not respond to traditional methods. People often administer home remedies and self-diagnose their children for acidity, gastritis or dyspepsia. They give their children home remedies, deworming, antibiotics and anti-acidity medicines repeatedly for weeks or months without any results. Instead of showing any progress, this often causes school absenteeism, low self-esteem and poor growth in children and feelings of helplessness among the parents. Therefore, knowing the cause and the right treatment methods is extremely critical for parents to prevent their children from constant stomach aches.

What signs and symptoms of abdominal pain are among children?

While a majority of cases of abdominal pain are harmless, some situations may be an emergency and may require hospitalization and medical attention. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of abdominal pain include -

  1. Fever
  2. Vomiting
  3. Loose stools or constipation
  4. Blood in stools or urine
  5. Painful urination.

What are the causes of stomach pain?

There are several factors that can cause stomach aches among children. These include -

  1. Gas formation in very young children
  2. Unregulated intake of junk food
  3. Constipation
  4. Stomach infection
  5. Worm infestation
  6. Post medication for fever or any other infection.

It is important to note that if abdominal pain persists for more than an hour and you come across any concerning signs then instead of giving home remedies, you must contact the best paediatrician in Bangalore immediately for further guidance. Ensure that you do not administer any medications unless advised by a doctor.

What are the precautions that you can take to prevent your child from stomach aches?

If your child is reporting abdominal discomfort, then you can adopt some of the following measures -

  1. Regulate your child’s food habits by making them avoid junk and introduce more fruits and vegetables regularly in their diet
  2. Add fibre-rich food and salads to their diet
  3. Make them avoid aerated drinks and tetra-pack juices regularly
  4. Ensure that your child consumes at least 12-14 glasses of water per day
  5. Keep a track of their urine activity. Any child should pass urine 5-6 times/day and 1-2 times at night
  6. Ensure that your child regularly passes stools in the morning.

Can stomach pain cause any emergency in my child?

Emergency situations can arise if mild to moderate symptoms in the child are not attended adequately in situations like -

  1. Acute appendicitis
  2. Acute pancreatitis
  3. Vomiting of blood or green bile
  4. Intestinal obstruction and perforation.

In these situations, emergency admission should be seeked into the nearest pediatric emergency ward.

When should you consult a paediatric surgeon?

If your child presents the following symptoms along with stomach ache then you should consult a paediatric surgeon.

  1. Refusal for feed
  2. Weight loss
  3. Fever
  4. Vomiting green or blood
  5. Jaundice
  6. Difficulty in passing urine or stool
  7. Any lump in the tummy.

Parents need to be extra cautious when it comes to their child’s health. While home remedies like warm water or hot water bags are fine for children, one must refrain from administering any medications without consulting a doctor. Parents must also look for the signs like unexplained intermittent crying in very young toddlers and ask the older children to point out the site of pain to get them a timely diagnosis and treatment.

By getting your child checked in time and getting them timely diagnosis and treatment of the cause of chronic abdominal pain, you can make a significant difference in his/her quality of life and can also prevent problems such as –

  1. Need for surgical interventions
  2. Poor growth
  3. Anaemia
  4. Vitamin D deficiency, etc.
  5. Any underlying health condition.

Stomach pain is one of the common symptoms in children seeking paediatrician consultation and by encouraging them to eat healthy, avoid junk food and include fibre-rich foods in their diet you can greatly help your child to limit/avoid bouts of a tummy ache.

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