Abdominal pain in children is very common and can be distressful for parents. The two most common reasons for abdominal pain in children are constipation and gastritis.
Constipation – A constipated child can be in severe pain with a bloated abdomen due to hard, compacted stool that prevent the normal passing of wind.
Common causes are changes in diet (usually during the holidays when veggies make place for hot dogs), dehydration during summer months and fear of passing stool. Depending on the circumstances, your doctor may recommend over-the counter fibre supplements, stool softeners or an enema (an amazingly quick way to give instant relieve).
Diet also plays a role. Up their water intake, add prune juice, limit refined foods and exercise regularly.
Gastritis – This is inflammation of the stomach lining due to excess acid production. The main area of discomfort is right under the rib cage, just to the left. Excess acid production is often a result of stressful situations, leaving the stomach lining red and swollen. Pain, nausea, burping and bloating will lead to heartburn and a stomach ulcer if not treated. Do not underestimate the effects of stress in small children: usually paired with either going to school after a weekend or participating in competitive sports. Reassure your child continuously and consult your doctor if the symptoms persist. If needed, a blood/stool test for Helicobacter Pylori can be done and if positive, treated successfully.
Be pro- active. A healthy diet can make a huge difference.
Dr Deseré Ferreira
General Practitioner, Intercare Irene