Scott & White Pediatric Gastroenterology Clinic sees spike in calls in September from parents Approximately 10 to 15 percent of children ages five and up have abdominal pain. Although parents can usually tell if their child’s caught a stomach bug […]
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“My Tummy Hurts”: Common Causes and Cures for Kids with Stomach Trouble

by Katherine Voss on August 9, 2013

in Medical Information

Scott & White Pediatric Gastroenterology Clinic sees spike in calls in September from parents

tummyApproximately 10 to 15 percent of children ages five and up have abdominal pain. Although parents can usually tell if their child’s caught a stomach bug – he or she’ll have vomiting or diarrhea that lasts 24 to 48 hours. But you should know these other common causes of tummy trouble, and how you can help them feel better especially as kids head back to school in the coming weeks:

Nervous Tummies / Back to School

With Central Texas kids heading back to school soon they, much like adults, will experience stress, which then affects their tummies causing discomfort and sometimes pain. Parents will often call in to the Scott & White Pediatric Gastroenterology clinic to talk about what’s going on usually in September.

What happens is kids feel the stress of school and they end up holding their bowel movements until they get home as well as eating poorly at school, and bullying.” This all contributes to these tummy troubles,” said Ashis Barad, MD, Pediatric Gastroenterologist at the McLane Children’s Hospital at Scott & White.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What it feels like: In addition to general abdominal pain (which frequently occurs at night), a child with IBS usually has bloating and gas. She may also have either diarrhea or constipation. What’s going on: IBS is a cousin of functional abdominal pain. It’s more common in adolescents, but some younger kids do get it, particularly if they have a family history of the disease. They tend to have overly sensitive intestines that spasm in response to certain foods and stress. There’s no specific test for IBS, but doctors may do some tests to eliminate other possibilities.

Constipation and Gas

What it feels like: Cramping and uncomfortable bloating are the usual symptoms. What’s going on: If your child has gone for two or more days without pooping, you can reasonably assume that constipation is causing her stomachache. In fact, constipation causes almost half of all acute abdominal pain in kids, according to a recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Gastroesophageal Reflux

What it feels like: Children can have reflux at any age. Babies spit up frequently, and they’re usually fussy during feedings and when lying down. Older kids feel a burning sensation in the chest and mid-abdomen, which may wake them up at night.
What’s going on: The muscle that normally shuts off the esophagus doesn’t close properly, allowing the harsh acidic contents of the stomach to wash back up. Many babies have some reflux but outgrow it by about 6 months. When it lingers longer, it may be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can require medication.

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