Having a stomach ache is tricky. We all have them but symptoms can be hard to describe or too vague to really know what’s going on. Oftentimes, you never get to the bottom of it, but then you feel better and move on, no harm done! There are a million harmless reasons you might hear “my stomach hurts” from your child and a handful of reasons that are worrisome – let’s break them down.
If you’re experiencing diarrhea or nausea/vomiting with your stomach pains, it is likely gastroenteritis (stomach bug). If that sounds like what you or your kiddo are experiencing, pop over to the Kinsa app and let us know so you can get more specific information on that!
There are some more serious possibilities, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with those. Instead, let’s look at when it’s time to call your doctor or head to the ER:
Some medications can irritate the stomach lining and cause a stomach ache. If you’re on a new medication, try having a light snack before you take it to see if that resolves the problem. When dealing with stomach pains, avoid Ibuprofen as it can make things worse.
Stomach pains in kids or yourself day after day definitely warrant a visit to the doctor to investigate. Constipation is the most likely culprit in our children, so increase those fluids and get them to eat a fiber-rich diet.
Stress can also cause stomach aches and is often seen in our kiddos – we can never overlook how much our minds affect our physical bodies! Talk with your child about things that may be worrying them, practice relaxation techniques, and make sure they are getting enough sleep.
There are many other options for home remedies. I can’t speak to how effective they are, so I’m going to leave them off my list. Nurses like evidence! Take a warm bath or curl up with a heating pad until it resolves. I always say: Follow your gut! And this time I mean that very literally.
Blake Wageman, RN, BSN has over 11 years of nursing under her belt, primarily focused on NICU babies and, just as importantly, their worried parents.