Mom, I have a stomach ache!
Abdominal pain is very common in children, from infancy and well into their teens.
As many as 20 percent of all children are afflicted with stomach pains that come and go over a long period. There can be many causes of pain but at most there is fortunately a harmless condition that eventually will heal by itself.
For the doctor is abdominal pain in children is one of the states where it is difficult to put an exact diagnosis. This is because there are often many and complex causes of pain, and that especially the younger children will sometimes describe the malaise as "stomach ache" even if there is another reason.
It can also be difficult to understand whether it is a purely medical or a more psychosomatic cause of the pain.
Gastric Stress in children
Sometimes it can be quite easy to understand that there are psychological causes of abdominal pain. This applies if the pain comes when the child joy or dread to something very, or in situations where the child is experiencing a lot of stress. Children who have difficulties at home or at school will often react with stomach pains. The pain is sometimes described by the children themselves as a "fist in the middle of the belly" and will often go relatively quickly and then come back in similar situations.
It also appears that children with long-standing abdominal pain is often more secluded, the school good and dutiful children than their peers. These children may also have additional symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
Could there be something in the food?
Different types of food allergies and intolerances can also cause abdominal pain. One of the most common are cowed's milk protein allergy in the smaller children and lactose intolerance in the larger children. The child will also often feel bloated and have a tendency to loose stools.
If the child also seems listless and is poorly absorbed into the weight, it is important to think about celiac disease, where the gluten in a wheat floor leads to a chronic inflammatory disorder of the intestine.
Another very common cause of abdominal pain in children is constipation. This is often caused by a combination of too little fiber in the food, and the child for various reasons are reluctant to go to the toilet. Children who have a lot of dairy products in their diet, are sometimes at increased risk for constipation.
Other, rarer causes
In a few children can stomach pain caused by various chronic inflammatory diseases of the intestine, for example. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Other children may have a chronic inflammatory disorder of the stomach or esophagus. These children are usually plagued by heartburn and a burning sensation in the diaphragm.
It is also important to consider inflammatory diseases outside the digestive system as an explanation for the pain. Long-term urinary tract infections can cause symptoms such as fatigue, abdominal pain and nausea.
When to see a doctor?
If abdominal pain is very acute, or has lasted for over three months, one should take the child to the doctor for examination. Sometimes we find disease that can be treated, but in ca. 80% of cases end up without a clear diagnosis.
Your doctor will do a thorough physical examination of the child in the stool sample and blood samples. On rare occasions, it is necessary to further reference to the X-ray, ultrasound and examination of the esophagus, stomach or colon.
What can parents do?
If you suspect that your child reacted to cow's milk, you can eliminate this from your diet for four weeks to see if that helps. It is important to have a diet that is rich in water and fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products. Make sure your child eats regular meals, and takes your time instead of devouring the food.
It is also important to take the time to talk to your child about what ev. Ailments that - and together try to find a way the child can cope with problems. In many children's abdominal pain is a way to try to reach out to parents on a day that is often stressful for both large and small.