Tummy aches are common in children, but they are rarely serious. Most tummy aches go away on their own within a day or two, although a few simple steps can make your child more comfortable. Consult your doctor immediately, though, if your child's pain is severe, if the pain is accompanied by fever or your child vomits green bile.
Constipation is one of the most common reasons children get tummy aches, especially near the belly button. It is usually caused by a lack of water or fiber in the diet, although stress and other external factors can exacerbate it. Give your child fruit juices, such as apple or prune juice, to loosen the stools, and serve bran, whole grains, vegetables and leafy greens daily to increase fiber intake. Talk with your doctor if your child is still constipated after altering her diet. Do not give your child adult laxatives or mineral oil.
Often times, a child may have a tummy ache due to plain, old indigestion or gas. These tummy aches usually go away within a few hours. Your child may have frequent tummy aches near the belly button or in more generalized areas because of a food intolerance, such as an allergy to milk, eggs or wheat. You may notice an increase in tummy aches after she eats certain foods, as well as other symptoms, such as a diarrhea, runny nose, dark circles under the eyes, wheezing or sneezing. Eliminate a food you suspect of causing a food allergy for two weeks, at the advice of your physician, to see if the problem improves.
Short-term stomach pain accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting and fever is usually caused by the stomach flu. Offer clear liquids to prevent dehydration and give mild, easy-to-digest foods, such as toast, bananas or applesauce, once the diarrhea subsides. Chronic tummy ache can occur anywhere in the belly, according to the AskDrSears website, and may be caused by an intestinal infection such as giardia. Chronic diarrhea often accompanies these infections. Consult your doctor if diarrhea and stomach pain due to illness last more than three days.
Stress and Emotional Causes
Stress caused by moving, starting school or similar transitions can cause tummy aches and even diarrhea in children. Offer a warm water bottle to ease stomach pains, but focus more on helping your child regain feelings of control over her life. Provide consistent routines and positive encouragement, and spend time together engaged in playful, relaxing activities. Seek your pediatrician's advice if the tummy aches last longer than two weeks or are accompanied by other symptoms, such as serious misbehavior, nightmares or frequent angry outbursts.
- AskDr.Sears.com: Abdominal Pain, Chronic
- "Naturally Healthy Kids"; Jerry Rubin, et al.; 2006
- 'Natural Baby and Childcare"; Lauren Feder; 2006