Experts at Dubai London Clinic shine light on the causes and treatment of tummy ache in kids
25 April 2019| Last updated on 21 May 2019
Have you ever been awakened by your crying lovely child who`s either curled in bed or holding his tummy and complaining of a sore tummy?
At some point, many parents passed through the stressing and worrisome experience of hearing those three words “My tummy hurts”, and moreover, few knew for sure what was wrong or what to do then!
Children often complain of stomach ache! It`s one of the most common reasons parents take children to their pediatrician or the emergency department. Mostly it`s not a serious health problem and children get better either by themselves or with medical help, but whatever the reason is, tender kiddy tummies can prompt a `nerve-eating` parental anxiety.
Reasons for abdominal pain range from very minor to health-threatening, and trying to figure out if your child is in need for medical attention can often be a tricky situation. Accordingly, here are some valuable information about tummy ache in children, and when to worry.
What are the common causes of tummy ache in children?
Abdominal pain in children is a symptom of a variety of medical conditions. Some of the common causes include:
- Indigestion: Commonly known as ‘tummy upset’, it may be due to inappropriate food habits like overeating, drinking too much fizzy drinks or consuming junk food
- Constipation: A top reason behind kids getting tummy ache, when a child’s diet lacks plenty of fluids, fresh fruits and vegetables, constipation is more likely to occur
- Gastroenteritis: Either due to a viral or bacterial infection. Children typically complain of diarrhea, severe abdominal cramps, vomiting and fever
- Throat Infection (Tonsillitis or Pharyngitis): Caused by bacteria named streptococci or by some viruses. Symptoms mainly include sore throat, fever and abdominal pain
- Food intolerance: Pain can be due to intolerance to certain food constituents such as lactose in milk. Certain food preservatives or additives used in some drinks to give color or flavor can also cause tummy ache in children
When should parents take their child to the doctor (the `red flags`)?
It’s very important to know when to seek medical advice. Although most childhood tummy aches are mild and self-limiting, there are certain alarming symptoms that parents should be aware of and necessitate urgent medical attention.
These may include (but not limited to): severe pain in the tummy or it wakes the child from sleep, pain that doesn’t go away or keeps coming and going, frequent vomiting, child looks sick or dehydrated, diarrhea, blood in stools, persistent pain on the right side of abdomen, unexplained fever or loss of weight.
What treatment can parents use for their child`s tummy ache?
Now this is really important! No medications for tummy aches should be given to children without consulting the doctor, especially pain-killers, laxatives, enemas. Laxatives and enemas can make the pain worse by stimulating the bowel and pain-killers may mask a more serious abdominal problem like appendicitis.
Abdominal pain in children is often scary and frustrating for parents, and many times it`s hard to figure out the exact cause behind the child's tummy ache especially that children differ in their ability to describe the type, severity and location of their pain, which can make matters even harder.
Better safe than sorry, when your child`s tummy ache seems like something more, follow your parental `gut` and don’t hesitate to seek expert care for proper medical management.
Authored by Osama Bashi, M.D
Dubai London Clinic