As a father, I get concerned when my boys complain of 'tummy aches'
As a physician, I am trained to think of the worst case scenario and then rule it out.
This mix as a parent can be unsettling at times.
For parents out there who wonder what some of the common 'tummy aches' are - read on.
Early morning stomach pain:
Feed the rascals. They've been up all night and their stomach is crying for food. It is common that they won't want to eat but find something for them to get in. A protein powder, energy bar, almond butter on celery, bite of some whole fruit - something.
Tell them: "Do you want your tummy ache to go away?" Wait for an answer. Once you get confirmation, tell them how eating something will make it go away.
Random stomach pain:
Think - when was the last time they went #2?
Children think few things:
play, where's Mom and Dad and where are we going. They do not fully understand that they have to go #2 every day so talk with them about it.
Simply say: "If you feel tummy aches, I'd like you to tell me and we will grab a book and sit on the potty."
They will deny that they have to go but gently encourage them to try for you. Tell them that it may make the tummy ache go away. Tell them it will just take a moment. Grab a book or two.
They will put up some resistance but mark my words, once they understand the stomach pain goes away, you've got 'em hooked. My son now knows and heads straight for the toilet.
After eating stomach pain:
Consider food intolerances.
We are blasted daily with how good milk is for our kids but for many, milk does not do the body good. Instead, dairy products provide indigestible protein which rots causing bloating and gas. Bloating and gas is followed by diarrhea alternating with constipation.
If they get frequent ear pain or ear infections, that is another positive sign that dairy products likely are the culprit. Remove dairy from the diet. My kids don't eat dairy products unless it is kefir.
Gluten foods are another big one - especially wheat. My oldest got red rashes around his bum and tummy aches when he ate wheat. After treating his gut with healthy bacteria like acidophilus, flavonoids like quercetin, and intestinal repair nutrients like glutamine, he is doing much better. We now limit how much wheat he eats and he is fine.
Also watch that they don't mix bananas, pine nuts, kidney beans, jello, milk, cheese, cereal, and apricots all together. I get a stomach ache just typing that. So watch that they don't mix too many foods together.
Don't let them drink too much while eating as that dilutes their digestive enzymes. If digestive enzymes and stomach acid get too dilute, the foods will not digest well causing gas and bloating. They can drink some but some kids really go nuts with fluids and meals. Don't let your kids go nuts.
Some, not all, Not So Good Symptoms of Stomach Pain
Call their doctor if any of these are happening:
- Bent over double crying in pain
- Very tight stomach/abdomen and in pain
- Cannot poo for days
- Fever with Stomach Pain
- Diarrhea that won't stop
- You touch their tummy and they cry out
Do understand that this is information only and not treatment advice.
Next time your kid has a tummy ache, think about the common causes and act appropriately.
Dr Ben, ND