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Health Information For Parents
Pain is the body’s way of signaling that something is going on. Belly pain alerts us to something that’s happening inside that we might not know about otherwise. Stomachaches are a common complaint among kids and teens.
Stomachache is a general term for pain that begins somewhere in the abdomen or pelvis:
Sometimes problems in other areas can cause stomachaches too, like infections in the lungs or throat.
Some reasons for belly pain are obvious, like when someone gets hit in the gut or eats spoiled food. Other times, it can be hard to figure out. With so many organs in the abdomen, different problems can have similar symptoms.
Here are some things that can cause stomachaches:
get into the digestive system, the body reacts by trying to rid itself of the infection, often through vomiting or diarrhea.
Bacterial infections cause what we call “food poisoning.” Bacteria also are responsible for other conditions that may cause belly pain, such as:
Viruses, another type of infection, are behind what we call “stomach flu,” or gastroenteritis (gas-troe-en-teh-RYE-tiss).
Bacteria and viruses both can pass easily from person to person. To avoid them:
Constipation is one of the top reasons kids get belly pain. Kids can get constipated if their diet doesn’t include enough fluids and fiber.
When one of the body’s internal organs is irritated or swollen, that can bring on abdominal pain. Pain from problems like appendicitis, ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease is the body’s way of telling us to get medical help.
Food reactions can be more than eating too much or basic indigestion. When people can’t digest certain foods, doctors say they have a food intolerance. Lactose intolerance, for example, causes belly pain when someone eats milk products. If you notice your child complaining of pain or other symptoms like gas, bloating, or diarrhea after eating certain foods, call your doctor.
Conditions like celiac disease (a reaction to proteins in some grains) or food allergies (like peanut allergy) are different from food intolerance. They involve immune system reactions that can actually harm the body beyond just producing a temporary reaction. Someone who has a true food allergy must always avoid that food.
The digestive system isn’t the only cause of stomachaches. Menstrual cramps are a common cause of pain in the reproductive organs. Infections in the reproductive system, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, also can cause abdominal pain in girls.
Testicular injuries can make a guy feel sick or even throw up if they are severe.
Women often feel nausea during pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies (when the pregnancy implants in the wrong place) can cause abdominal pain.
Because problems like ectopic pregnancy need quick treatment, girls who have belly pain and think they might be pregnant should call a doctor right away. And girls who have had unprotected sex should be tested for STDs. Untreated STDs can cause problems like infertility and chronic belly or pelvic pain.
Teenagers should always use a condom when having sex to protect against STDs and pregnancy.
Some diseases or defects can affect how the organs do their jobs, causing pain. Crohn’s disease can make the intestinal wall swell and scar so much that it may block the intestine.
Hernias also can block the intestines, as can growths like tumors. Torsion is a medical term that means “twisting.” Torsion can affect the intestines, ovaries, and testicles, cutting off blood supply or affecting how they work.
When kids get stressed, anxious, or depressed, their emotions can trigger physical symptoms, such as headaches or abdominal pain.
Belly pain also can be due to problems that can happen when people have certain illnesses, such as sickle cell disease or diabetes.
To find the cause of a stomachache, doctors ask about:
The doctor will do an exam and sometimes might order tests, such as an X-ray, ultrasound, or blood test. It all depends on what the doctor thinks is causing the problem.
Sometimes, what seems like one problem — food poisoning, for example — can turn out to be something more serious, like appendicitis.
Call the doctor if your child has a stomachache and:
Let the doctor know about other symptoms your child has, such as:
Also tell the doctor if the pain is from an injury, or if you think your daughter might be pregnant.
Most bellyaches in kids and teens don’t have a serious cause. They can happen for many different reasons, but most are easy to treat.
If stress or anxiety seem to be behind the pain, for example, the doctor may recommend talking to a counselor or therapist. They can help people figure out what’s behind their stress, and give advice on how to fix problems or handle them better.
Not all belly pain can be prevented. But to help avoid common types of stomachaches, everyone in the family should:
Stomachaches are common in childhood, and often caused by gas, constipation or viruses. Find out when a stomachache requires a trip to the doctor.
Appendicitis requires immediate medical attention, so it’s important to know its symptoms. The earlier it’s caught, the easier it is to treat.
Kids who have celiac disease, a disorder that makes their bodies react to gluten, can’t eat certain kinds of foods. Find out more – including what foods are safe and where to find them.
Constipation is a very common problem among kids, and it usually occurs because a child’s diet doesn’t include enough fluids and fiber. In most cases, simple changes can help kids go.
Most kids battle diarrhea from time to time, so it’s importantÂ to know what to do to relieve and even prevent it.
The digestive process starts even before the first bite of food. Find out more about the digestive system and how our bodies break down and absorb the food we eat.
When symptoms of heartburn or acid indigestion happen a lot, it could be gastroesophageal reflux (GER). And it can be a problem for kids – even newborns.
Sometimes, germs can get into food and cause food poisoning. Find out what to do if your child gets food poisoning – and how to prevent it.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal problem that can cause cramps, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Certain foods can trigger these problems. So can anxiety, stress, and infections.
Many kids have lactose intolerance – trouble digesting lactose, the main sugar in milk and milk products – which can cause cramps, diarrhea, and gas.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease doesn’t just affect old people who eat too much while watching TV. Active, healthy teens can have GERD too.
Ugh. Bellyaches. Find out what causes tummy trouble in this article for kids.
People with celiac disease can’t eat gluten, which is found in many everyday foods, such as bread. Find out more by reading this article for kids.
People who have celiac disease, a disorder that makes their bodies react to gluten, can’t eat certain kinds of foods. Find out more – including what foods are safe and where to find them.
If you aren’t pooping like usual, you could be constipated.
Constipation is a very common problem that usually happens because a person’s diet doesn’t include enough fluids and fiber. In most cases, making simple changes can help you feel better.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that causes parts of the bowel to get red and swollen. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms, prevent other problems, and avoid flare-ups.
Crohn’s disease is a condition that causes parts of the intestine (bowel) to get red and swollen. It can be challenging to deal with, but many teens find that they’re able to feel well and have few symptoms for long periods of time.
Nearly everybody gets diarrhea every once in a while, and it’s usually caused by gastrointestinal infections. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Read this article to learn more.
Most people think digestion begins when you first put food in your mouth. But the digestive process actually starts even before the food hits your taste buds.
Food allergies can cause serious and even deadly reactions in kids, so it’s important to know how to feed a child with food allergies and to prevent reactions.
Doctors are diagnosing more and more people with food allergies. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with food allergies can make a big difference in preventing serious illness.
A hernia is an opening or weakness in the wall of a muscle, tissue, or membrane that normally holds an organ in place. Learning to prevent hernias isn’t hard to do – check out these tips.
Indigestion is just another name for an upset stomach. It usually happens when people eat too much or too fast, or have foods that don’t agree with them.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to two chronic diseases that cause intestinal inflammation: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Although they have features in common, there are some important differences.
Inflammatory bowel disease is an ongoing illness caused by an inflammation of the intestines. There are two kinds of IBD: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Kids with lactose intolerance have trouble digesting a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy foods. But by making smart choices, they can eat delicious foods without feeling sick.
If you have lactose intolerance, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans have the condition. Check out these tips on dealing with lactose intolerance.
Some teens get stomachaches and diarrhea often. Read about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common intestinal disorder that affects the colon.
Having irritable bowel syndrome can make a kid feel awful. The good news is that kids can take steps to feel better.
Bouts of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are considered normal. But when they’re so severe that a woman can’t keep foods down, she and her baby’s health are at risk.
All people fart sometimes, whether they live in France, the Fiji islands, or Fresno, California! Learn more about what gives gas its sass in our article for kids about farts.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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