Anyone Else Have Children with Frequent Bellyaches?

Updated on May 14, 2009
J.C. asks from Fort Wayne, IN
21 answers

My 6 year old daughter complains of bellyaches a LOT. I have taken her to the doctor and he said since she wasn't waking up at night with them that it's probably stress related. Well, I don't buy that. She's a happy go lucky kid, and I've asked her about anything going on at school which she claims everything's great. So, the doctor recommended trying her on Zantac, which is a medicine for sour stomachs and acid indigestion. She's coming up on the end of the 2 week trial period the doctor wanted this done for. Two nights out of the last 5 she has woken up in the middle of the night with a bellyache now. This is new, and I plan to call the doctor on Monday to get testing done since this is a new symptom. The doctor said that if she started waking up at night, I was to let them know....Anyway, my question to you guys is are there certain things anyone can tell me that I can bring up with the doctor? Are there certain tests I should be asking for to make sure we get to the bottom of this? I have tried lactose free milk with her for 2 weeks to see if that helps, and it doesn't help so far. I know one thing they'll be testing her for is Crohn's disease. I just want to make sure I don't miss anything. Thanks for any advice!

TO ADD: Aryana has regular bowel movements, eats lots of fruits and veggies, and has stomach aches at all different times of the day. Also, I noticed someone said something about headaches. She does get headaches also. She's been to a neurologist, and at this point, he said he only needs to see her if they all of a sudden change to being more frequent or unmanageable. Right now we just treat them with Tylenol. She gets them more around when seasons change so I assumed they were more than likely caused by seasonal allergies. Her grandma has very bad allergies.

Also, I have asked her about being honest with the bellyaches. She promises she isn't lying about them. At first I did think it was maybe situation avoidance, but then I realized that since she complained of them at different times, like when we were at people's houses and she was having fun, that it was time for me to figure out what was really going on with her. Now, I am just putting my trust in her and wanting to figure out how to get them to stop

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So What Happened?

I took my daughter to the doctor yesterday, her regular doctor which was much nicer...and she was asked tons and tons of questions. Afterwards, her doctor said she thinks it is a form of constipation. It's not that she's having trouble when she goes poop, but now that she's in school all day, she's holding her poop sometimes and therefore her rectum has been trained to also. Your colon's only job is to extract water out of your poop so it's not diarrhea. If the poop sits in the colon longer than normal, it continues to take out water and makes the poop harder and bigger. The feeling you get that tells you you have to poop is the poop in your colon reaching the rectum. The rectum's job is to open up, stretch, to allow the poop to come into it and go out of the body. When you hold your poop, the rectum stays open longer. So, sometimes it can cause the rectum to stay open if this is done regularly, and you lose that sense of urgency to poop until all of a sudden, you're running to the bathroom because you have to go NOW. A lot of children with this issue will have skid marks in their underwear because they have to fly to the bathroom and sometimes have a little bit come out before they get there. When a child holds their poop, and more poop comes into the colon it causes stomach cramping...forgot to add that.

We are to buy Mucilex this Friday and give it to her once a day, adjusting the dosage until we find a dosage that works for her. It will get her regular and also make it easier for her to go poop at a certain time of the day so she's not hit at school and wanting to hold it. After 4-6 weeks, the rectum will be retrained and she shouldn't have these problems anymore. Hope this is it! It would be great to not have bellyaches everyday around here! Thanks for all your advice!

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M.G.

answers from Columbus on

I would have them do a very very thorough exam including Xrays or CAT scan. to test for Crohn's is a simple (but expensive blood test) so that should be quick to find out. My 6 year old cousin was have the same problems and they did an extra and actually found that this very active child had mild spinal bifida, scoliosis... and she has been to many many docs before.

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P.H.

answers from Cleveland on

Ask for a lactose intolerance test. Symptoms range from gas, bloating to diarrhea. If she has regular bowel movements, she may not have the extreme form of this.

Lactose intolerance is not a true allergy. It happens when a person does not have the lactase enzyme called lactase to digest the complex milk sugar of glucose and galactose.

Some people are allergic to milk and that is completely different.

I'm lactose intolerant since 19, so I know what I'm talking about.

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C.B.

answers from Lafayette on

an upper GI is non evasive and is a very good way to see the stomach in motion with doing a scope of inside the stomach itself. my son has had both done. he had an upper GI when we was 1yr & where you would have your hand foot chet ect xrayed is the table he layed on, then he drank a white liquid called barium so the stonach can be seen on xray & they took rapid pics & and watched on video like that of a sonogram for pregnant women as is went through his stomach. they found that he had severe acid reflux. at age 3 & 4 they did an EGD, where they run a little scope that has a tiny camera at the end of it down his throat and into his stomach, they sprayed his throat to numb it & gave him baby valium, i was there through the whole thing & he was in awe over seeing his tummy on TV, they found he had 2 ulcers & put him on prilosec, that's what the EGD at 3 was for & the one at 4 was too see if it cleared up, which it did.he's almost 7yrs. old now and the only time he complains of belly aches now is when he decides to everything he can get his hands on. good luck & God be with you.

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A.R.

answers from Cincinnati on

My best friend had a son with constant bellyaches and she did a food journal. Every day she wrote what her son ate and if he had a bellyache or not. That helped pinpoint what he was allergic to. Even if it is not an allergy then showing a food journal to the doctor will them diagnois the problem. My friend recommended this website for information: http://www.aboutkidsgi.org

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S.C.

answers from Indianapolis on

My daughter is now 9, when she was 6 we went thru the exact same thing. Her tummy aches lasted a year before we found out what they were. At first we thought she was using the excuse of a tummy ache just to get out of school or something else that she didn't want to do. When it started to affect fun things, like her crying on our way to the lake one summer and she just wanted to go home, we knew something was wrong. The lake during the summer with my family was the most important thing for her! At first her dr started treating her for constipation. That was going nowhere. She ordered an upper GI. I have had one done before and this would have been her 2nd one. She had one when she was 3 for other reasons. Anyway, an upper GI is where she drinks some thick milky stuff and swallows it while they are taking e-rays so they can see her upper digestive track. Her dad & I both were in there with her so it was rough but not too bad. When the results came back, they saw some thing going on towards the bottom of her lower GI track. We were then told to take her to a specialist at Riley. We saw him once then wanted to do a Colonoscopy and a Endoscopy. He wanted to go into both ends and meet in the middle. I was glad at how it was attacking her problem and I knew if something was wrong he would find it. Of course they did it outpatient and put her to sleep for it. When he was done and she was in recovery, he already knew what was wrong with her. She was lactose intolerant and she had helocobactorpylori (H-pylori) which is a bacterial infection in the lining of the stomach. check out this website and look at the symptoms and see if your daughter matches http://www.helico.com/. For they h-pylori she was given two antibiotics at one time and also an acid reflux med. She had to take them for 4 weeks then she went back for a breath test (all she did was drink some lemon drink and then breath in a bag) to see if it was gone....and it was. For her lactose intolerence she takes over the counter Digestive Advantage Lactose Intolerance for kids. She chews two pills a day and she can usually have all of the dairy that she wants.

Good luck & I hope things go well for you.....let me know if you have any questions.

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M.J.

answers from Lafayette on

Julie

I have a 6 yr. old daughter and just went thru tummy aches and some headaches. The family doctor referred us to a neurologist and after a couple months of documentation by her teacher and me - they think she is having abdominal migraines. Another symptom - not sleeping thru the night. She is now taking periactin at bedtime and this has made a complete turn around for her. The only bad thing - this makes her hungry - so we are encouraging healthy snacks. Good luck with you daughter - I will keep her in my prayers. I know how frustrating it can be when you kids have a constant complaint - hang in there!

M.

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M.K.

answers from Columbus on

Julie:

I feel your frustration! My daughter had the same symptoms - I went thru a lot of guilty feelings because I didn't know what was real and what wasn't!! But like you, the symptoms would show up even when she was having fun, etc. So, after many, many tests we found out she had a hernia!!! Had surgery and is fine!!! All the doctors thought it was some allergy, etc., and then someone FINALLY discovered it was a hernia!!! Just something maybe you could have checked. Good Luck and God Bless!!

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L.M.

answers from Cleveland on

I would check for allergies. If you remove dairy for a week you should know if it is an issue. I would also try giving her Culturelle daily, it's a probiotic. You can get it at Sams Club (only the ones with pharmacy's carry it, call first to make sure they have it) order it online at Vitacost.com or buy it at Walmart. Other stores carry it but it is expensive at places like CVS, etc.

Good Luck!!

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E.W.

answers from Cleveland on

I wanted to get back to you sooner. I had the same issues with my daughter and we had to go through a long process to rule out different issues. In the beginning they gave us Zantac and that didn't work. We had to rule out allergies and then Crohn's disease, ulcers,etc. We were able to identify she did have an immune deficiency. That was some of her problems because your gut is a big supporter of the immune system. SHe ended up getting a vaccine to try to help that out. Unfortunately she got shingles in December and now we're dealing with a neurological condition brought on by the shingles. I don't know where you live but I love going to osteopaths. They are doctors that treat allergies non-invasively and work with a lot of kids with food allergies/sensitivities. If you live in the Cleveland/Akron area Dr Cheryl Leuthauser is great and there is Osteomed in Middleburg Hts. My daughter gets headaches/stomachaches/dizziness/nausea/mild reflux/insomnia. SHe is being evaluated for posterior orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). The problem with stomach and headaches it could be migraines. A biofeedback doctor was the one to get to the bottom of what was going on. If I can be of any further help please let me know. Try other alternative milks; soy, almond, rice, hemp. Lactose free I was told not to waste my time on. She uses goat milk and cheeses. A gastrenterologist is the one to decide if it's Crohn's or gluten or lactose problems.

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J.F.

answers from Cleveland on

My son who is also 6 had the same issue earlier this year. He would have stomach aches almost every other day. His doctor gave him a blood test to test for food allergies. Thankfully he had none. I discovered that the stomach aches went away when I limited his chocolate intake--we are chocoholics! He can only have chocolate milk once a day and he eats candy/chocolate only once in a while now instead of daily! Maybe you could try a food journal to see what triggers her tummy aches.

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B.B.

answers from Indianapolis on

My first thought was whether or not she was having normal BM's too. My oldest daughter is 5, and when she's complained of bellyaches, it's usually been because she went haywire and ate a bunch of bananas or something that backed her up - once she pooped, she felt fine.

That might be something to check...encourage more pears, less bananas/apples. Might not hurt to give her a dose of mylicon in the evenings too.

Good luck!

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R.D.

answers from Indianapolis on

Is she having regular, soft bowel movements? That is my first thought. My daughter had me really scared a couple of times complaining of severe stomach pain. Turned out she hadn't gone in several days and was very constipated. Had to look at getting enough fiber into her diet, then.
Another thought, before the night waking, is, maybe it is an attention getting thing? You know your daughter best and know if it could be this. I do know in my daughter's Kindergarten class there was a boy who complained a lot about stomach hurting. It was attention getting for him. He would get a cracker, and then go on with life. As far as I know, they never treated anything and he graduated last year, so it must not have been anything serious.
R.

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T.D.

answers from Cleveland on

Make sure you get her tested for food allergies especially dairy. I know you said that you switched to lactose free milk but milk proteins can be found in tons of food and places that you wouldn't expect. And it can take up to two weeks just to get the milk proteins out of her system and to begin to see a change.

I had undiagnosed IBS (it was causing me a lot of pain) as a child because a really rude pediatrician refused to take me seriously. I suffered with it untreated until I was in my 20's and was in so much pain I wouldn't take "There is nothing wrong" for an answer. So, if you think there is something really wrong with your daughter make sure you stick to your guns and make them figure out what is wrong. Insist on them doing any testing that might find a cause even if it seems odd or unrelated. I hope that they can figure out what is causing your daughters discomfort soon so that she can go back to being a happy, healthy 6 year old.

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C.S.

answers from Cincinnati on

Frequent belly aches at this age CAN be stress related. My dd had severe separation anxiety (still does at 13-but she can handle it now). She complained every day to the school nurse. In first grade, the stress grew worse and she developed Trichotillamania. That's when we sought counseling and she learned how to manage her stress. She still gets tummy aches and since she's 13 I give her a choice between relaxation exercises and tylenol. It's a long journey and lots of kids don't even recognize stress.

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M.H.

answers from Elkhart on

I discovered as an adult that I am gluten intolerant (wheat, oats, rye, and barley products, including bread, flours, etc.)and dairy intolerant (milk, cheese, ice cream, regular butter),and also soy and corn sensitive; and also peanuts give me a headache. I lived with stomach aches so much during my life, but no one connected the diet issues to the stomach and other health issues.

Knowing what I know now, if I were you, I would try a serious elimination diet and give it 2 months. Eat only the basics - rice, potatoes, meat, vegetables, fruit. See what happens. Can't hurt! You need to get to the cause not just suppress the symptoms.

Merry H.

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K.C.

answers from Cleveland on

Do Migraines run in your or your husband's family? It's a long shot but kids who will get migraines(like my daughter) start with bellyaches. Migraines can be caused by lots of different reasons the big ones being fatigue and dehydration. My daughter gets them when barometric pressure changes - so if I get a sinus headache she would get a bellyache and then now at 8yrs old a migraine. It's not a common thing but it took us years(and lots of tests) to figure out what was happening.

Her triggers are weird, she gets bellyaches from softserve icecream but can eat huge amounts of reg. ice cream, milk, yogurt w/out any problems so it took us a while to track the causes of her stomach aches. Also raisins bother her but organic raisins don't....
Good luck, don't give up and (forgive the pun) trust YOUR gut! If I hadn't asked questions my daughter would be heavily medicated right now. You are her best advocate.

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D.M.

answers from Columbus on

I have a 5 yr old and a 7 yr old that say the same thing every night before bed. I have talked with my son's doctor about it and couldn't find anything wrong. So, what I have taken to doing is every night when they say something about their tummy being upset I give them a Rolaids Soft Chew and they forget all about it and go to sleep. They are inexpensive at Wal-mart and the doctor said that is ok. It has worked for me. Hope this helps. Good luck!

D.

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D.K.

answers from Indianapolis on

NATURALLY HEALTHY BABIES AND CHILDREN by Romm and

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NATURAL HEALTH & HEALING FOR CHILDREN by Weber

I'd own BOTH! Might find on AMAZON and/or Half Price Books.

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D.G.

answers from Columbus on

Is your daughter having normal bowel movements? Some times children so young don't take time out from playing to go to the bathroom.She could be constipated or her bowel could be a little twisted.I would try a stool softner for a bout a week and see if it helps.
Also sadly some kids will say they have a belly ache just for attention so be careful.

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K.N.

answers from Cleveland on

They should test for allergies and acid reflux. certain antacids make my reflux worse, took the doctors forever to believe me, so I've been there. in the time it takes you to make and get an appointment I'd suggest a food journal, everything she eats or drinks when and then any symptoms she has, might help pinpoint the cause, even later on if they don't get an instant answer for you, it could help them rule out certain things. good luck.

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J.F.

answers from Columbus on

Julie- i would ask the doctor about the possibility of an inflamed appendix. A boy i work with had really bad stomach aches and we also attributed them to stress (his father had passed away 6 months before this all started) and one day about 6 months after it all started he ended up having severe pain and we took him into the ER. After 24 hours of testing it turned out that his appendix was inflamed and about to burst. when they went in to remove it the doc said that it looked like it had been going on in a mild way for quite a while and told us that it is not uncommon for a child to get a more chronic mild form of appendicitis before having an accute episode. it would have saved us all a lot of worry if someone had looked for that wen it all started!

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