4 Year Old with a Constant Stomach Ache

Updated on March 20, 2010
S.S. asks from Denver, CO
11 answers

Hi Moms,

My son (just turned 4) has been complaining of a stomach ache for about 3 weeks now. He was also reporting that he was "throwing up in his mouth" and swallowing it. Our pediatrician felt like his stomach/intestines were irritated (possibly from having a stomach bug a while ago) and put him on a teaspoon of over-the-counter Mylanta for 2 weeks. We are about one week in and I'd say he's had mild improvement. He's only thrown up in his mouth once and has started complaining less about the stomach ache throughout the day. However, I believe his stomach is still hurting. When I ask he says it's still bothering him and his appetite is still poor. He does still bring it up during the day a little....less than before we started the Mylanta but still once or twice per day. I'm having a hard time gauging how much pain he is in and the location of the pain. It seems at times that he is describing a sensation similar to heartburn more than a stomach ache...and with the throwing up in his mouth I'm wondering if he has developed some sort of reflux. Does it seem possible that a child could suddenly develop acid reflux at 4? Has anyone had any experience with this? Any other thoughts on what this could be? Thanks!

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answers from Atlanta on

Hi S.,

There can be a sudden onset of anything because of the illness and because of any over the counter meds as well. Yes, I have experience! I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was 11 years old and was not treated properly and lived with it for years. It all starts with the fact that there is NO acid in the stomach to digest food. Meds and illnesses can get the chemical balance of a body off. That's what happened to me. Acid reflux and GERD as it is sometimes described is caused by a lack of acid. The stomach is supposed to be acidic to break the food down so that it will digest and keep moving through his little system. When there is no acid it sits in the stomach and rots...

When cleaning out your refrigerator, have you ever opened a piece of tupperware when it had something really old in it? It spits at you because of the gases that have built up. That's what happens with reflux..the gases in the stomach from the undigested food have no where to go so they push against the esophageal valve...and it burns because the esophagus is alkaline not acidic...Being on Mylanta may give temporary relief but it will rebound and come back with a vengeance.

Probiotics, prebiotics, a good absorbable multivitamin, raw fruits and vegetables and possibly a fiber supplement. His system needs to get back to where it is supposed to be before it does any further damage. If your doctor does not think this is important now, I would consult with a different one or go to a ND instead of an MD. They have a better handle on nutrition.

God bless!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Yes, children can have acid reflux, my oldest was born with it and had to have surgery at 6 months to fix it. Luckily he doesn't have any issues. Good luck to you.



answers from Grand Junction on

Yes, you can develop acid reflux at any time, in my experience. But my good friend, had a stomach ache for over six months b/4 they realized that she had a urinary tract infection. It was the ONLY symptom that she had. I thought that I would just tell you that, just in case all else failed. (UTI's are really rare in kids and especially in boys) Good luck, I will be praying for him and for you! :)


answers from Indianapolis on

It's absolutely possible that a child could develop reflux (GERD technically), and the throwing-up in his mouth could certainly be a sign of it as it's related to the weakening of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter that allows stomach acid and digested food back into the esophagus creating the heartburn.

If the Mylanta doesn't show tremendous improvement, I'd certainly recommend going back to the pediatrician and asking for a referral to a GastroEnterologist (GI specialist).

Mylanta is only 1 of several different kinds of medication available for children to treat heart burn if that is, in fact, what's going on with him. The best thing, though, always is to have a diagnosis first to make sure the treatment is appropriate.

Good luck.



answers from Denver on

I would regularly start giving him probiotics and aloe vera juice. The probiotics wil make sure he has enough healthy gut bacteria and the aloe vera juice will help heal him. The aloe vera juice is cheapest at Walmart just look with other digestive products probably on the bottom shelf.


answers from Provo on

I have had a really bad digestive system for a long time. I have changed to a different doctor and he suggested probiotics and apple cider vinegar. I know that there is basically no way that you can get a four year old to take ACV but probiotics are an option for the little guy. At the health food store there is chewable probiotics for kids. I would also change his diet gradually and add more fiber and cut out the soda. I would add more whole wheat to his diet. Fiber One does make a granola bar that my son (6) loves.



answers from Atlanta on

Do you think he may have a stomach allergy? Or maybe even gastroenteritis?



answers from Salt Lake City on

he can absolutely develope reflux. Our bodies have a tendency to become "oversensitzed" to certain foods. I'll bet if you kept track of what he is eating you would see some consistentcy of when the "throwing up " is happening. I have three kids with some sort of reflux. Even when they get laughing hard they get some "throw up" in their mouths. I would check in to getting an endoscopy done. If it is a consistent thing, it may be damaging the esophogeal lining (of his throat). I am sure the mylanta is helping because it is an acid reducer. However, you don't want him to be on it for too long due to ingredients in it that are not good for you. So, I think if I were you, I would start by limiting acidic foods and see if anything is improving. If you google "Acidic foods" a whole gamit will come up. If that is not helping, I would consider taking him to a pediatric gastroenterologist. Good luck.



answers from Dallas on

Ugh. My dd is almost 5 and complaining of pretty much the same things. She has dealt with this for probably almost a year now! So frustrating. We have done an ultrasound and a xray of some kind and they haven't shown anything. We have also done all types of blood work - which also came up with nothing out of the ordinary. Which is great news - but also frustrating because she is still complaining of a tummy ache.

I will be interested in the responses to this question....Sorry to hear you are struggling with something similar as us.

God bless


answers from Victoria on

I agree with previous poster & recommend some diet changes along with the mylanta. Mylanta just makes tolerating the symptoms, not fixing the problem. Yes, illness can throw the digestive system off. go to a simple diet for a fay or two, BRAT diet, bannanas, rice, apple sauce, toast. Then begin to introduce real food such as fruits & veggies, yogurt w/ live active cultures low in sugar. You should see a big improvement by day 4 & energy happy levels should be up. Also place a few blocks, boards, or books under the head of his bed to prevent any refluxing at night that may interupt his sleep. Best of luck & lots of hugs for your little guy, reflux/heartburn is awful!



answers from Denver on

My son went through a period with identical symptoms (stomach pain, throwing up in mouth, etc), and we finally narrowed it down to stress.

He was in preschool, and his friends had moved into a new classroom, but he'd been kept in the old classroom (with new kids). We thought he'd be happy staying with his same teacher, but it turned out he wanted to move with his friends, and school was stressing him out. But, since he was so little he couldn't verbalize that, and instead would have these extreme stomach aches where he'd be doubled over crying about the pain, he'd throw up, not be able to eat, etc.

It took several months to figure this out, during which time his doctor ruled out any physical problems or allergies, we tried stomach medicine anyways, we changed his diet, his sleep routine, we talked to his teachers (who thought he was fine at school). After trying to get him to tell me exactly how and where it hurt, and figuring out when his stomach was upset or hurting, I started to find out from him that he was unhappy about his friends moving to another class without him. I talked to his teacher, the teacher of the new class, and the school director, and they didn't think that was it but were willing to let him try the other class for a week - and he didn't have an upset stomach once that week!

I've found since then that when my son gets nervous about something his stomach will hurt and get upset (to the point of throwing up). It just happened recently in his kindergarten class when one of the girls was talking about her upcoming birthday party and he was nervous about whether or not he'd get invited. His teacher sent him to the nurse because she thought he was sick, when he was just nervous.

So, if you haven't already looked at this possibility, maybe it is stress or nervousness about something.

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