Kids often complain of stomach pain, but it is difficult for parents to trace out the reason of stomach pain in kids. There can be many reasons behind stomach pain in kids. It can range from mild discomfort to severe cramping, burning, nausea, fever and vomiting in some cases. Most of the time it is not caused by a serious medical problem but sometimes abdominal pain can be a sign of something serious. Stomach pain in kids can be caused by a variety of common reasons such as eating too much, needing to go to the washroom, or anxiety or worry about an upcoming event. However, if your child complains of stomach pain frequently, it can be difficult to know the best ways to help and when to call the doctor. It is important to figure out the type of pain a child is complaining of. Whether it is pain covering more than half of the belly due to gastric problems in kids or it is a cramp like pain due to bloating or a colicky pain which comes in a wave.
Eight causes of stomach pain in kids:
Gas: Gastric pain or indigestion is common in kids of all ages. It is commonly used to describe pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen. Some main causes of gastric problems among kids are, gulping down meals at a rapid speed, intake of aerated drinks (soda), fried junk, consumption of high levels of insoluble fiber (part of food that doesn’t get digested but reaches the gut to become food for the good bacteria living there), imbalance of good bacteria in the gut which support digestion.
Constipation: Constipation is one of the causes for stomach pain in kids. Children most often get constipated by holding in their stool to avoid or delay in bowel movement. When stool stays in the large intestine for too long, it absorbs fluids from the stool and causes constipation. Encouraging your child to make simple dietary changes such as eating more fiber rich fruits and vegetables and drinking more water can help in constipation. This is the most prominent cause in today’s time. Children prefer food that is easy to gulp or belongs to the junk-food category. Excess sugar consumption in food also causes constipation.
Food poisoning: It is a condition caused by eating food, or drinks which are contaminated by germs or toxins. These harmful organisms produce toxins that irritate the lining of a kid’s stomach and intestines. This can result in stomach pain in kids.
Overeating: Too much of anything is bad. Overeating of any food, healthy or junk both can cause abdominal pain. Kids often eat too much when it comes to their favorite foods like pizza, fries, soda, burger etc. In addition to that, eating too quickly which is also very common in kids can contribute to stomach discomforts.
Lactose Intolerant: Lactose intolerant is an inability to break down a type of natural sugar called lactose. Lactose commonly found in dairy products such as milk and yogurt. A kid can become lactose intolerant when the small intestine stops making enough of the enzymes to digest the lactose. This can cause cramps, abdominal pain, gas and sometimes diarrhea. This is quite common in kids nowadays. Some kids who don’t have this concern initially, can also develop with time as they grow.
Stress: When a child is stressed, the adrenal glands make and release the hormones cortisol into the bloodstream. This causes the fight –or –flight response, and also triggers abdominal discomfort, stomach cramps, constipation, diarrhea and nausea.
Appendicitis: Recognizing appendicitis in your little one is tough as a child can’t always speak in full or describe their symptoms. A blockage in the lining of the appendix that results in infection is a possible cause of appendicitis. The blockage may be caused by mucus or stool or parasites or by a bend or twist in the appendix itself. It is mostly becoming common in children between the ages of 9-15. Food can also be a reason for this. Fried fatty foods can irritate the digestive system which can lead to appendicitis.
Stomach pain and digestive issues in kids can be due to lack of fiber or probiotic (good bacteria) in the diet.
Food for a healthy stomach:
Banana: Bananas are easy to digest and are known to ease stomach pain. It is loaded with calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, vitamin B6, manganese. It also contains potassium which helps in case of dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. It has natural sugar (fructose) so kids will be able to get calories even if he/she is not eating much. (Which part of banana is most useful for stomach troubles and digestion?)
Yogurt: Yogurt can be good for a kid’s stomach health. It is rich in probiotics (good bacteria) that helps to maintain gut health. Having a little yogurt during an upset stomach may help relieve diarrhea too. Presence of protein, calcium, Vitamin B2, vitamin B12, potassium and magnesium in it helps to boost up the immune system and promote a healthy digestive tract. (Recipe to make a full meal with yogurt)
Asafoetida (Heeng): The secret of this ingredient is being shared for ages. Heeng is added to food preparations which are generally tough to digest like beans and whole pulses. It helps to boost digestion by increasing the activity of digestive enzymes. As per a study, its antibacterial, anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties are used to treat stomach disorders and cure gastric problems in kids, bloating, acidity, constipation and improve stomach health.
Coconut water: Coconut water is rich in nutrients and electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C which makes it an excellent choice for keeping kids hydrated after sickness and improves digestion at the same time. (Ice cream recipe using coconut)
Apple: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ Kids favorite apple has 3.6grams of fiber. Apple contains pectin, a type of fiber that feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Apples are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and dietary fiber, which helps to keep your kid’s digestive tract moving, also prevents or even treats constipation. (What is the best way to eat apple?)
Peppermint: This green herb is well known for its refreshing flavor and ability to soothe an upset stomach. It has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal properties which positively impact the gastrointestinal tract. Peppermint oil is sometimes used to improve irritable bowel syndrome (an inflammatory condition that impacts the large intestine) stomach pain, bloating and gastric problems in kids.
Ginger: Ginger contains chemicals that have been found to relax and smooth muscles, especially those which are in the intestinal tract. Consuming ginger helps food to move more quickly and more easily in the digestive tract, helping to relieve stomach cramps. (How to use ginger to detox?)
Recipe for Veggie Pizza cups
- 1 medium capsicum shredded
- half broccoli
- 2 handful corn kernels whole or shredded
- 1 medium onion chopped finely
- Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the veggies- onion, brocolli, capsicum, corn.
- 2 cups of flours (mix of any- whole wheat, ragi, sorghum, rye, amaranth, teff)
- Add oregano seasoning and salt as per choice
- Add 2 tbsp psyllium husk
- Add water (to make sticky dough)
- Leave dough to rest and rise for 2-3 hours covered with dry cloth and loose lid
- Once done, take a small ball of dough and make into a cup and place in baking tray
- Add veggies and cheddar cheese on top
- Preheat for 5 min at 220 celsius. Bake for 15 min and serve!
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