Babies & ToddlersKidsPre-SchoolPrimary School

Help: My child has a tummy ache!

Does your child suffer stomach pain? With the right treatment, your child can get back to feeling like their happy self in no time.

As a parent, there’s nothing more distressing than seeing your child in pain. And when that pain comes from their stomach, it can be hard to know what to do.

The truth is, there are many different reasons a child might experience stomach pain, and it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact cause.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common reasons for stomach pain in children, the signs and symptoms to watch out for, and the available treatment options.

Functional abdominal pain

One of the most common causes of stomach pain in children is a condition known as functional abdominal pain (FAP). This type of pain is characterised by recurrent stomach pain without a known cause.

Children with FAP may experience various symptoms, including cramping, bloating, and constipation. The pain is usually located in the middle of the abdomen and can be severe enough to interfere with a child’s daily activities.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease

Another common cause of stomach pain in children is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This condition occurs when stomach acid flows back into the oesophagus, causing heartburn, nausea, and other symptoms. Children with GERD may also experience chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and a sour taste in the mouth.

Food allergies

Food allergies and intolerances can also cause stomach pain in children. For example, a lactose-intolerant child may experience stomach pain and diarrhoea after consuming dairy products. Similarly, a child with gluten intolerance may experience stomach pain and other symptoms after eating gluten-related foods.


Infections, such as viral or bacterial gastroenteritis, can cause children stomach pain. Symptoms of a stomach infection may include vomiting, diarrhoea, and fever.

Constipation is another common cause of stomach pain in children. Constipated children may experience abdominal cramps, bloating, and difficulty passing stools.

Signs and symptoms of stomach pain

While many different things can cause stomach pain, there are some common signs and symptoms to watch out for. These include:

  • Abdominal cramping or pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

It’s important to note that other conditions can also cause these symptoms, so it’s always best to consult a doctor if your child is experiencing stomach pain.

Treatment for stomach pain

When treating stomach pain in children, the first step is to identify the underlying cause. If a specific cause is identified, such as an infection or food allergy, treatment will focus on addressing that underlying issue. For example, if your child has a stomach infection, they may be prescribed antibiotics to clear up the infection.

If the cause of the stomach pain cannot be determined, treatment will focus on managing the symptoms. This may include using over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also recommend changes to your child’s diet, such as avoiding certain foods or increasing fibre intake, to help alleviate constipation.

For children with functional abdominal pain, stress management techniques such as deep breathing, relaxation and visualisation may be helpful.

Sometimes, a child may be referred to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist, for further evaluation and treatment.

Various factors, including functional abdominal pain, GERD, food allergies and intolerances, infections, and constipation, can cause stomach pain in children.

In some cases, referral to a specialist may be necessary if your child suffers persistent stomach pain.


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