Stomach Ache in children

When your child says she has a stomach ache, she could be suffering from a variety of disorders like gastroenteritis, measles, colic and urinary tract infections. Sometimes, it need not be a stomach disorder per se. It could be any other infection that has begun affecting other parts of her body. She might even complain of a tummy ache when it is hurting somewhere else or she is feeling unwell and does not know how to describe it.

Stomach Ache

Stomach Ache [Illustration by Shiju George]

In the case of a stomach ache, one of the most important things that a doctor checks for is the point the child says is hurting. The closer it is to the navel, the more chances of the pain being psychosomatic in origin and could be cured with reassurances. The farther it is from the navel the more the chances of it being a disorder.

The best way to deal with it, however, would be to let a doctor decide the nature of the ache. For, stomach ache close to the navel is one of the major symptoms for appendicitis.

Causes and management

  • If your child is an infant or a toddler cries at a particular time of the day and is otherwise quite fine, she might be suffering from colic.
  • If the pains come in waves at frequent intervals, it may mean that her bowels are blocked.
  • In a child above the age of one year, an abdominal ache could be caused even by a common cold, a sore throat, or flu. The ache is just an indication that she has some infection that is bothering other parts of her body. In fact, sometimes almost any infection can cause vomiting.
  • If it is caused by constipation, it will get worse after a meal.
  • Severe stomache ache could also have been caused by an inflamed appendix, though this condition is extremely rare in children under three. A distended appendix needs an emergency operation. Get in touch with your doctor.
  • If her tummy ache lasts longer than an hour.
  • Before the doctor arrives, you could check her temperature and put her to bed. Do not give her anything to eat. If she is thristy, give her small sips of water.
  • If you do not suspect appendicitis, make her lie down and give her a hot water bag wrapped in a towel to hold against her stomach till the doctor arrives.
  • If your child is an infant, it is often difficult to find out that the baby has a stomach ache.
  • If you think she has a tummy ache, you could try burping her.
  • Make her lie down on her side rather than on her back. That will help if she has a gas problem.