6 top causes for children’s stomache aches

(Alessandro Zangrilli/Public Domain)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – One of the most common reasons kids see a school nurse is for an upset stomach.

Dr. Ryan Redman, emergency room director at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, said children complain of stomach aches for all sorts of reasons and sometimes the pain has nothing to do with the stomach itself.

Here are Dr. Redman’s top six reasons children complain about abdominal pain:

1. Stomach virus

Signs of a stomach virus include painful stomach cramps usually followed by vomiting and/or diarrhea. They are highly contagious and spread easily through schools.

2. Constipation

This is more common in older children, especially when they have anxiety about using the restroom at school, according to Dr. Redman. He says adding fiber to a child’s diet and making sure they use the bathroom before leaving home can help.

3. Strep throat

If a child has an upset stomach combined with a sore throat, Dr. Redman says it could be strep throat. He says the infection is common and easily spread.

4. Lactose intolerance

Children may have stomach aches if their body lacks the enzyme needed to break down lactose in milk and milk products. Dr. Redman said symptoms are similar to a stomach virus, only you may notice a pattern of a severe upset stomach after drinking milk or eating cheese.

5. Appendicitis

Dr. Redman says appendicitis is a potentially serious inflammation of the appendix (A small appendage located on right side of the abdomen). He says symptoms include persistent abdominal pain that migrates from the midsection to right lower abdomen, nausea, vomiting and low-grade fever.

6. Emotional Upset

School age children can sometimes have recurrent abdominal pain that has no obvious cause, according to Dr. Redman. This is often caused by stress, usually in older children. He says the first clue is that the pain usually comes and goes over a period of more than a week and is often associated with an unpleasant or stressful activity. In addition, there are no other complaints like fever, lethargy, weakness or a soar throat.

When to call pediatrician

Dr. Redman recommends calling a peditrician if the pain comes on suddenly or persists and is accompanied by a fever, vomiting or diarrhea for more than 24 hours. He says children should also see a doctor if they have recurrent abdominal pain with no explanation.

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