You wake up in the middle of the night with stomach cramps, clutch a pillow and
curl your body around it. That helps a little and you go back to sleep. But in the
morning, the pain is still there. "Ouch, I have a stomachache!" you tell your mom
Why Does Belly Pain Happen?
Pain is the body's way of telling us that something's going on. Belly pain alerts
us to something that's happening inside us that we might not know about otherwise.
Some reasons for belly pain are easy to spot, like when someone gets hit in the
gut or eats spoiled macaroni salad. Oher times, it might be hard to figure out.
When you get a pain in your stomach,
it might be an actual problem right in your stomach, but not necessarily. Your abdomen
is more than your stomach. It's more than your intestines. It's the whole area between
your chest and your pelvic (hip) bones. With so many organs in the abdomen, different
problems can have similar symptoms.
Types of Tummy Troubles
Here are some of the things that cause tummy troubles:
Constipation is a top reason kids get
belly pain. If you haven't had a bowel movement (poop) for a while or if it hurts
to go to the bathroom or your bowel movements are hard, you are probably constipated.
Diarrhea is often caused by an infection
that some people call "the stomach flu." When you have diarrhea
— runny, watery bowel movements — you may also feel sick to your stomach.
The pain is one way your body tells you to stay near a bathroom!
Something you eat. Some kids get belly pain because they ate
too much of something, a food that was too spicy or greasy, or food that sat around
in the fridge for too long and went
Food intolerance or food allergy. Some people have foods that
are hard for them to digest. This is called a food intolerance. For
example, people with lactose intolerance
have a tough time digesting lactose, a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy
foods. A food allergy
is different, and some can be very serious. Food allergies can cause immune
system reactions that can harm the body. Someone with a food allergy must always
avoid that food.
Appendicitis. If the pain starts by your belly button and then
moves to the lower right side of your belly, it might be appendicitis.
Fever or vomiting, along with pain that
gets worse and worse and a loss of appetite, also can be signs of appendicitis.
Many, many kids (and adults, too) have a "nervous stomach" when they are worried or
How Do Doctors Find the Cause of a Bellyache?
Your doctor will first ask you some questions, examine you, and maybe do some tests.
Your doctor may suggest you take some medicine or might give you special instructions
for eating to help your body heal the bellyache.
If it turns out that you have appendicitis, you will need an operation called an
appendectomy (say: app-en-DEK-tuh-mee).
If stress is behind your stomach problems, your doctor may recommend a specialist,
such as a psychologist. These experts can help kids figure out the source of the stress
and help them come up with some ideas for how to fix the problems or handle them better.
How Can I Prevent Belly Pain?
If you'd like to prevent bellyaches, here are some good tips to follow:
Eat fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, so your bowel movements are