Nutrition and Wellness Blog

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What to do when your child complains of stomach pain every day

Mar 2023 | Autoimmune Disorders, Food Sensitivities, Pediatric Nutrition

Little boy lays in bed while his mom sits on the side of it, Child complains of stomach pain every day

If, as a parent, caregiver, or healthcare practitioner, you have a child who complains of stomach pain every day, you might be starting to wonder, “Is this real or are they faking it?” For most of my grade school days, I experienced intermittent abdominal pain among other symptoms. But, as a child, it was hard for me to articulate what was going on in my body. The one thing I could communicate was when I had belly pain. Unfortunately, this was a common occurrence. My symptoms baffled many medical professionals and was even interpreted as “fake” by some. Here are a few common words used to describe me by teachers and other professionals while I was living with undiagnosed celiac disease: lazy, slow learner, liar. “She’s faking it. There’s nothing wrong with her.” I vividly remember the school nurse who thought that I was trying to get out of class by pretending that I was in pain.

Luckily, my parents listened to me and responded according to my symptoms. Afterall, no child would fake sickness to avoid a holiday school party before winter break. Let’s discuss how you can evaluate whether your child is faking belly pain or truly experiencing gut discomfort. And, if you’re not a parent but you care for children in a professional capacity, these signs will be helpful in identifying real gut discomfort.

Many little kids stretch and dance together

15 Signs Your Child’s Stomach Pain is Something to Worry About

  1. Grabbing the belly
  2. Self-soothing by rocking, pacing or curling up in a ball
  3. Changes in skin appearance: color, rashes, sensitive skin or dark circles
  4. Changes in body temperature – sweating or fever
  5. Shaking
  6. Changes in bowel patterns – constipation or diarrhea
  7. Nausea or vomiting
  8. Difficulty swallowing
  9. Abdominal distention also known as bloating
  10. Increased gas output or foul-smelling gas
  11. Changes in appetite
  12. Headaches
  13. Mood changes
  14. Difficulty concentrating or learning
  15. Fatigue

These symptoms could indicate a variety of health issues including viruses, bacterial infection, food sensitivities, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, nutrient deficiencies, imbalanced diet, dehydration, to name a few.

Mom in face mask sits on couch with her son and checks for a fever while he plays on a tablet, Child complains of stomach pain every day

What to Do If You’re Worried About Your Child’s Stomach Pain

1. Listen to your child

Living with a chronic illness through childhood has taught me a lot about the importance of listening to the patient. This is especially important when caring for children. It may be hard for the child to vocalize how she is feeling.

2. Observe your child

Instead, as an adult, you must observe your child. If your child presents with any of the signs accompanied with complaints, then it is time to act.

3. Advocate for your sick child

Give your child the opportunity to rest. If the symptoms persist, contact your pediatrician. If your child’s complaints are not linked with a physical problem, monitor trends. For example, if your child voices complaints prior to an activity or school, it is worthwhile to explore why they are responding negatively to that experience.

Mom kisses her daughter on the cheek as they both embrace in a hug, Child complains of stomach pain every day

As a healthcare practitioner and parent, I know the significance of listening, observing, and advocating for the child. If you’ve been through the listening and observing stage and are currently working on advocating for your child who complains of stomach pain every day, a pediatric nutritionist might help. Want to learn more? Contact me and we can discuss if I’d be the right fit for your situation.

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