A bloated or distended stomach is usually an uncomfortable condition, regardless of the cause. It can be worrisome to parents if their child's stomach appears distended without an obvious reason, and young children may find it difficult to articulate what they are feeling. While a bloated stomach itself does not indicate a serious condition, parents should take note of any other symptoms that accompany their child's distended belly. This can help determine whether or not to consult a doctor.
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Constipation is an uncomfortable but usually not serious condition that everyone faces from time to time. If your child is constipated, her stomach may appear bloated and be firm to the touch. The best way to determine whether your child is constipated is to take note of the frequency and consistency of her bowel movements. If her bowel movements are less frequent than usual and appear particularly hard, she may be constipated. Sometimes simple diet changes can ease constipation, but consult your child's doctor if you are concerned.
Appendicitis can cause the stomach area to appear distended, particularly in younger children. Along with a bloated stomach, a child suffering from appendicitis may also have a fever, nausea and pain that centers around the lower-right side of the abdomen. If you suspect your child has appendicitis, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. If appendicitis goes untreated, the appendix can burst, causing a potentially life-threatening infection. Appendicitis is treated with antibiotics or the surgical removal of the appendix.
Giardia is caused by an intestinal parasite and is often spread from child to child in daycare settings. This parasite can cause your child to have a bloated stomach, diarrhea, stomach pain and nausea. While giardia can be treated with medication, it is important to teach your child proper hygiene to lessen his chances of becoming infected. Also observe your daycare's hygiene policies to be sure they are doing everything possible to prevent the spread of parasites and infections.
A person with celiac disease has a system that is unable to process gluten, which is found in many foods. Consumption of these foods, such as bread or pasta, can cause the sufferer to become bloated, have diarrhea, and develop a rash, among other things. While there is no cure for celiac disease, it can be controlled by adjusting your child's diet to avoid foods that contain gluten. This diet change is very important, as untreated celiac disease can lead to stunted growth in children.
When to Call the Doctor
It is important to take into account any symptoms your child is displaying in conjunction with a bloated stomach when deciding whether to call the doctor. If your child has a fever, abdominal pain or rash and appears bloated, you should consult your pediatrician. Also, prolonged diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so it is important to monitor your child's fluid intake if she is experiencing loose bowel movements and contact her doctor if the diarrhea is persistent.