5-Year-old Always Has a Stomachache

Updated on June 09, 2008
L.G. asks from Herriman, UT
34 answers

I have a great 5 year old daughter! She has been complaining for probably the last 2 months of a stomachache, nearly every day. The reason I haven't taken her to the dr. yet is because she tends to be very dramatic and it always seems to happen at very convenient times for her.I have been watching what she eats to see if anything in particular triggers it, but nothing really stands out. I am going to call the dr. on Monday because last night she was in tears because of it, but I was wondering if anybody has any ideas or experiences with this. Thanks!

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J.B.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Google Celiac disease. It's a gluten allergy to food (wheat, barley, rye, oats, malt). She can be blood tested for it by her pediatrition but I would recommend taking her to a pediatric gastroenterologist.

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A.J.

answers from Salt Lake City on

No experience myself, but my niece has been having severe stomaach pain for months now that brings her to tears. The doctors have done several tests, but nobody has been able to determine what is wrong. One doctor has gone so far as to say that my sister in law should just quit babying her!! But a mom knows when something is really wrong, so we're still trying to find out whats up. If you get any kind of diagnosis, please let us know so we can try to find out what we are dealing with too.

R.C.

answers from Denver on

When I was about 5 I had the same thing and it was my appendix. My daughter had stomaches and it ends up that she is mildly gluten intolerant. When she has wheat she gets a stomach ache.

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C.G.

answers from Great Falls on

I have a 10 year old grandaughter that has the same problem . It started when she was about 4 years old . Many times we thought she was just crying for attention . After many times to the doctor with different remedies . They told her Mother after a x-ray that her bowels were backed up .Metimucil was used they tried suppositories etc. Last year in the emergency room the doctor prescribed Pepcid . Only one pill a day and it works . Also she can't digest lettuce . Good Luck .

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A.C.

answers from Pueblo on

Hi Laura,
I'm going to give two thoughts.
My first, which I feel is more along the lines of what's wrong. Long story short, my son(age 5 at the time) did the same thing as your daughter. I asked the dr. about it she said more fresh fruit (fiber). So I make sure he has fruit at every meal. Also, Tums are a great may to "fix" the problem when it's just an attention thing. The dr. said it's fine to give to him not in excess.
Second, here's the other one. Now this is really really rare so not likely. But my niece complaines and at times will scream in pain uncontrollably about her stomach hurting. You know something is wrong when a child just screams. After a year of dr. visits Childrens Hospital diagnosed her with E.E. I can't spell the full disease and yes it's a diesease of the esphogus (sorry spelling). It erodes the esphogus but to a child it feels like their stomach hurts REALLY BAD!!! If you gut tells you something is wrong get her to a specialist just flat don't give your dr. the option to wait and see. They also found with the E.E. she has food allergies to all dairy and pineapple that makes everything worse. I don't mean to freak you out with this info.
Good Luck!!
A.

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S.S.

answers from Provo on

Is she constipated? Make sure she has plenty of fruits and see if that makes a difference!

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S.M.

answers from Colorado Springs on

Laura,

My daughter is 9 now and started having stomach problems too at 5 years old. I too watched what she was eating, took her completely off dairy for a month, did allergy testing, celiac testing, and a bunch of other tests. Dr. couldn't figure out what was wrong. And like your daughter, my daughter would get nauseous and have stomach pains at 'convenient' times, like when it was time to go to school, or time to go to bed, etc. Finally we went to gastrointestinal specialist who deals specifically with kids, and had a UGI done and a gastroendoscopy done (along with more blood testing) and found out her stomach looked normal with no ulcers or lesions. Did previcid for a month after that to make sure it wasn't reflux. Final diagnosis was anxiety...which makes sense, because my daughter is very nervous and has fear of sleeping by herself, going into new situations, and being around a lot of people (like at school). So those 'convenient' times to have stomach pain was not just her trying to get out of uncomfortable situations, it was anxiety making her hurt and feel nauseous. The dr. recommended getting her into a therapist that deals with childhood anxiety and that is what we are currently looking for. Hoping that we can find a way for her to deal with her anxiety and find ways to cope with stressful situations. I believe you should work with your daughter's dr. to count out any possible physical reasons for stomach pain first, then go from there to see if your daughter may be suffering from anxiety. Good luck. My heart goes out to you having been in your shoes.

S.

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C.R.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi. My kids have not had this problem, but I did. It went on for YEARS! My mom would take me to the doctor and he would tell her that I wasn't eating right and give her a diet to feed me. She fed me some of the most awful things you could imagine! It was horrible! When I was 14, it got so bad that she finally took me to the e.r. They did what felt like thousands of tests. After lots of nothing, they finally did an x-ray, where they found that I had a bracelet stuck in my appendix. I had probably swallowed it when I was a baby, and the clasp had latched on to the tissue iside of my appendix and it never came out. The removed my appendix and I was a new person! No more horrible tummy aches!! Now, chances are, this isn't what is happening to your baby, but if everything else comes back normal, an x-ray might work.

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M.B.

answers from Provo on

I had the very same thing happen to me and my daughter last year and ended up taking her to the doctor. I was glad I did because I was treating her incorrectly. I may have worsened her condition. Anyway, all is well with her now. I hope everything works out well. Best wishes!

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S.B.

answers from Denver on

I have IBD and so does my two year old son. I could tell with him as I was changing his daipers. But now he is potty trained, it is harder to tell. He is (as well as me) on a soy, dairy and corn free diet. Try not buying anything with cornsyrup for one month. We all feel so much better now. It can take a week or longer for a food irritant to get out of the body so just watching what she eats is probably not going to do it. If you really want to fix it, you will need to see a GI (Rosenwieg is awesome) and do a control diet for one month. This is similar to introducing foods to a baby. If it is psychological...this would also get her out of this as she will see your serious and hat the whole thing. But, I tend to be a believer on this. I had pain my whole life. It wasn't until I was 20 and blacked out because I had too much Mac and Cheese and my body shut down and I knew this was not right. It took five different GI doctors. Regular practice doesn't know anything on this matter. I was called a hypercondriac, etc. It was horrible. But three years after the episode, multiple sick spells of cloitis and medications...I founf Dr. Jensen and we took the diet route. I have been symptom free (mostly) for seven years except when pregnant. anyway, Iwouldn't ignore it.

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J.L.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I read the other responses, and convenience or anxiety would be my first guess. Those are pretty common, especially for a five year old.
My daughter had this problem, but she was much older (12). We went through all the stuff, lactose intolerance, constipation, etc. Figured out she was going through a major growth spurt and was just hungry. She wasn't eating enough to keep up with her growth, so she'd get sick from not eating enough which in turn would make her more sick when she did eat. She is much better now that we figured that out. She still suffers occasionally because she is anxious as well, but we have figured out how to deal with that too for the most part.

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C.W.

answers from Provo on

My daughter had the same problem and it was very frustrating because we could never really see a problem, just her complaining. We decided to take her off milk--quite a pain since most kids drink milk all the time as well as ice cream, cheese, yogurt, etc. Anyway we took her off milk and dairy and she is fine now. She drinks soy milk and eats ice cream and cheese (both things she loves) in moderation. The only time she ever complains of a stomachache now is if she has overdone it on milk, like a milkshake or something. You could try that and see if it helps. My daughter was much better within two days of taking her off the dairy.

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H.S.

answers from Provo on

I have a 8 year daughter who does the same thing. I asked my brother in law who is a doctor and he thought it was an anxiety thing. Her daughter tends to hurt when I do her hair or at the store when she wants to be at home. If you find out it is something more I would love to know what it is.

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K.W.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My niece had this same problem, and they finally figured out she is allergic to wheat. Hopefully that's not what's wrong with your daughter, but it's worth checking.

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E.G.

answers from Denver on

When my daughter was 5 she complained of tummy aches pretty consistantly. I'm not sure if your daughter has to bring a water bottle to school like my daughter did. I took her to the doctor and they didn't find anything but she continued to complain. One night while watching the news they did a piece on water bottles and how people re-use them and fill them up with water. They ran tests on these bottles and found the bacteria staphollococcus (sp?), strep, and one had e-coli. They suggested that if you want to re-use the bottles wash them with hot soapy water and let them air dry, and make sure it's completely dry before re-using. The light went off in my head and I started washing my daughter's water bottle with hot soapy water and air dried it and the complaints stopped. Not sure if that helps. GL

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K.M.

answers from Denver on

My daughter did the same thing. We tried laxatives but it always came back. My Mother-in-law suggested that she stops drinking apple juice because of the pectin in it. No more belly aches. And she would only have one cup after breakfast, but it did not agree with her. It is something to try if your daughter drinks apple juice.

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S.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My 5 yr. old had the same thing and insisted she was going to the bathroom when I asked her if she had had a bowel movement that day. Finally, after going to the dr. after a month or to of these mysterious stomach aches, they did an x-ray and found out she was constipated. Her sense of time wasn't correct when she was saying she had gone to the bathroom and I hadn't kept that close of a watch on her regularity. Now I make sure she gets more fiber and fluid and it isn't a problem. Hope this helps.

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C.L.

answers from Provo on

my almost 4 year old did the same thing. I always figured it was one thing or another. She ended up having an appendectomy. I was feeling all bad we didn't catch and have it taken care of sooner (hers burst) but my mother in law who is a nurse said likely the doctors would have just told me to watch it. etc. If her pain has localized then you have something to tell the doc. Lay her on her back and push and release in different places, if the release hurts call your doc asap and tell them she has localized pain and tell them where and that it hurts most on the release of pressure. Hope your little one doesn't have appendicitis. My daughter never naps or hardly ever holds still teh day before her surgery she was in tears or napping all day. Check her tummy and call her doc. Good luck.

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T.C.

answers from Colorado Springs on

My nearly 4-year old daughter has been doing the same thing for months. Like you, I started to log the times/circumstances that brought on the tummyache before I called the Dr. I never did call the Dr. because I found that the tummyaches came at very convenient times - when she didn't want to go to bed, pick up toys, etc. I started to ask her "What would make your tummy feel better?". When her responses were "candy" or "another cartoon" etc., I decided that she was using the tummyache as a sympathy ploy to get what she wanted. I started telling her that if she had a stomachache she wouldn't be able to do fun things (play outside, go to the library, etc.). It was amazing how quickly the aches went away. With all that said, she never cried seriously (like in pain) about it, just cried because she wasn't getting what she wanted. I think I'd continue to log the circumstances/times and ask her what would make it feel better. Plus, I think as moms we have a "sixth sense" about our children and innately know when it's something serious and when it's not - follow that sense. Take her to the Dr. if your "sense" tells you it could be something serious. Good luck!

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M.C.

answers from Denver on

Hello, I have looked at the great responses and thought I'd throw this one in.

Could she be hungry? I ask because my 6 year-old gets horrible stomachaches if she waits too long to eat. She gets tummy gas, and it hurts even for awhile after she has eaten. I know because the same thing happens to me. It is extremely painful. The only thing to do is to be sure she gets a snack before she gets too hungry. That is what has helped my daughter. I have to stay on top of it, poor little thing....

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A.Y.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I want to suggest something that hasn't been shared yet - migraines. I had tummy aches all growing up and we couldn't ever figure out why. Migraines run in my family, but it wasn't until I was an adult that they really started coming in the form of actual head pains and nausea. I found out within the past few years from a doctor that migraines are common in children but only show up in the form of a tummy ache. If migraines run in your family (because they are quite often genetic), then this could be something to consider. As others have stated, stress and anxiety could be one of the problems but this could also be a trigger for a migraine in children and adults. Just something to watch out for if you can't figure anything else out. Good luck.

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C.H.

answers from Denver on

This is a guess. (1) Is something serious happening within your extended family, such as illness, divorce, fighting, money woes?. (2) Did she recently turn five and she's heading off to kindergarten soon?

Age five is a huge turning point for kids. They have an awareness that they didn't have before, and they realize that "five" means school, learning to read, learning to ride a two-wheeler, moving up in Sunday School, and other big accomplishments. They get scared, because they don't know if they'll be able to successfully do these things. Then, as they accomplishment them one by one, the physical symptoms or acting out starts to disappear.

You might gently quiz her about how she feels about these upcoming events, and discover that she's fearful. Good luck! Most five-year-olds go through this.

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C.Y.

answers from Denver on

Hi. I used to take care of a girl who had stomach aches almost every day. She was in a private preschool/kindergarten. Her dad asked what I was feeding the kids in an effort to see if it was food-related. One day I babysat overnight and then dropped off the kids at school. She pretty much freaked out when we got to school and got to her classroom. I had a chat with one of the teachers there and found out that there was no stability in who was teaching her class because they were short-staffed. I talked it over with her parents and we decided that maybe stress was a cause. Sure enough, she was switched to a program at a school where she had the same teacher every day and the stomach aches went away. Don't know if that helps or not.

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A.H.

answers from Denver on

My 6 yr old daughter does the same thing. Sometimes I think it may just be gas. Does your daughter go to the bathroom regularly, you may just suggest to her the next time that she try to go poop and see if that helps her tummy feel better... Good Luck!

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H.F.

answers from Pocatello on

My daughter who is now almost 3 has complained that her tummy hurt ever since she could talk, I was never sure if it was really pain or just that she felt full because she would always tell me that her tummy hurt right after she finished eating. In my massage therapy classes I learned infant massage, as well as abdominal massage for people older than infants. I went home and practiced abdominal massage on my children and all of a sudden my daughter stopped complaining about tummy aches! Abdominal massage can help improve digestion and relieve gas pain and constipation. I would recommend getting in touch with a massage therapist who can show you how to massage your daughter's tummy yourself, and do it every day, don't wait for her to feel pain to do it. If you live in or near Pocatello I would be happy to help you learn to do adbominal massage, my e-mail adress is [email protected]____.com Of course it would be wise to take your daughter to her Dr. first to rule out any serious conditons that need medical attention, but it doesn't sound too serious to me. One other thing, you say that she gets tummy aches when it is convenient for her, it may be that she gets tummy aches in responce to stress (which massage is great for relieving) like when she is being dropped off at school or when she has to go to the dentist etc. she feels stressed and it makes her tummy hurt.

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V.P.

answers from Great Falls on

I read all the responses and another suggestion that I have is to try a probiotic. It helps keep the good bacteria in her intestine healthy, which will aid her digestion. You can get probiotics at health food stores and in some yogurt items. Good luck!

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C.M.

answers from Denver on

hi, My daughter did the same thing. It started when she was four and always occured before chore time, bed time, or a healthy meal. I believe that it was psychologically based. I simply let her know that I knew what she was up to. The whole thing came to a head last year when she didn't complete a project for school and wanted to stay home. I suspected something was up so I called the teacher and asked about large projects and sure enough... I had her complete the project then go to school and appologize to her teacher. The stomach ache went away as soon as the project was done. Having dealt with the dreaded "I have a stomach ache" for seven years, my advice is to be firm and trust your instincts.

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K.D.

answers from Denver on

Lactose intolerance and Celiac's are what come to mind first. Any number of food allergies could do it, and unfortunately, a lot are hidden in our foods these days. I hope you find a solution soon.

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D.K.

answers from Denver on

My daughter is ultra dramatic too, she went through this phase of stomach aches around bedtime a year or so ago. I took her in, so she got a checkup, they checked it all out, there wasn't any food causing this issue, we even stopped dairy for a week or so to see if that was it, it was nothing. So after that, they stopped suddenly or lessened then went a way all together. I will never accuse her of faking, however like your daughter I think they were attention seeking or just not a big issue. One thing the Dr told me was that if they eat too fast or drink too much between bites it can cause air to build up and cause gassy type pains. I even tried Tums and Kids Maalox a few times and those helped.
Take her in, just to be safe, then if she doesn't have a problem then she will at least know the Dr agrees with you! :)
Good luck.

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C.W.

answers from Denver on

Could be something related to her diet.. I would definatly check with your physician first. Ask her if she is having any problems going to the bathroom- she might just need more fiber in her diet?

Just a thought.

Hope that helps!
C.
ww.AHomeCareer.com

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B.D.

answers from Boise on

My son did the same thing. This has been years ago. We have also noticed our granddaughter doing this. It may sound odd but check how often they go to the bathroom. Not just number one and two but how often. My son could not go before going to bed, hold it all night and get up and start playing and it would be noon or later before he would go. He could hold it longer than anyone I knew. When we realized this is what was going on we started reminding him to go to the bathroom. Our granddaughter is doing the same thing. She is so busy and doesn't want to miss anything. They never have accidents so you don't realize the problem. It may be totally something else but pay attention to this for a bit. It is so simple but causes them so much pain.

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L.S.

answers from Grand Junction on

Laura,
Hi, just a thought about this..does your daughter have a bowel movement regularly? We have some issues in this area with our three year old daughter. If she does not go regularly she winds up with a pretty good tummy ache. We have pretty good success by using "natural laxatives" such as prune juice, popcorn, nuts, apples, raisins that type of thing. Hope this helps, God Bless!

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J.S.

answers from Provo on

My daughter started complaining about her belly her hurting and we let it go about 6 months before we finally saw a doctor. It turned out that she wasn't pooping enough. We started her on a laxative daily to get her cleaned out (the dr. said it could take months) and then switched to an enzyme. Within a month she stopped complaining of her belly and when she does we ask her if she has pooped (and it usually turns out that she hasn't). She doesn't take anything now because her system has regulated but we ask her everyday if she has had a bowel movement. It would definitely be worth checking into. Good Luck.

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C.B.

answers from Denver on

Ok, my first reaction is that something is wrong. I would make a Dr. appointment and get it checked out. She was in tears for a reason. My oldest has IBS (irratable bowel syndrom) because they couldn't figure anything out. Have her tested for Crones, Ciliac(SP) and I can remember the other one my DR. suggested. They can be detected with a simple blood test. In the mean time give her chamille tea. It will help settle her stomach.

Don't feel bad you know your kid and parenting is not prefect. I didn't believe my oldest once and she ended up in a cast for a month. Children don't come with directions!

Good Luck,
C. B

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