All children have been faced with stomachaches at some point in their young lives. They can range from mind and infrequent to severe and constant. Stomachaches can also be something as simple as a digestive upset to something much more severe like appendicitis. It can be difficult to pinpoint what may be causing your little one’s symptoms, but these suggestions below may help you find a good starting point and know when to seek medical attention for something more serious.
Watch Out for Specific Severe Symptoms
When children complain of a stomachache, it’s essential to first assess for any signs that may warrant an emergency room visit. Severe right-sided abdominal pain, a significant fever, vomiting, or blood in a bowel movement should be evaluated promptly. If none of these are present, try to identify what may be triggering the pain. Does the pain get worse or better after eating? Is it in the upper part of the abdomen, lower abdomen, or on the left or right side? These questions and answers may help your child’s doctor narrow down a diagnosis.
Your child’s eating and toileting habits are also helpful in trying to figure out stomachaches. A food diary – consisting of what is eaten at each meal, along with notations of if the pain is better or worse, will be helpful to your pediatrician. Likewise, a toileting log should help you keep track of your child’s bowel movements, frequency, and consistency. Both of these can be brought to your child’s appointment with your pediatrician to discuss any abnormal findings.
Pay Attention to Trends and Consult a Pediatrician
If stomachaches have been a regular occurrence for several months and have interfered with daily activities, your pediatrician may want to order further testing to rule out any serious medical conditions. This may include bloodwork, x-rays, or ultrasounds. An elimination diet may also be helpful in trying to identify any triggers that may be making the pain worse. This includes eliminating certain food groups for several days to see if those specific foods either alleviate or aggravate the symptoms.
Sometimes, stomachaches can be attributed to school avoidance, anxiety, or other emotional stressors. Talking to your child about these situations may help you identify if this may be the source. If there is a physical reason behind their symptoms, such as constipation, reflux, or any other diagnoses, working with your pediatrician will help your child get their stomachaches under control.