“Mummy, My Tummy Hurts”

Digestion, Infant and Children | March 2, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Children, Digestion

“Mummy, My Tummy Hurts”

Having a sore tummy is a common complaint in children that can be caused by viruses, food intolerances, constipation and even anxiety. It can leave many parents feeling helpless, unsure of what to do to help their child. Natural therapies have many solutions to help relieve the discomfort, eradicate a stomach bug faster and gently calm a child.

What causes a sore tummy in kids?

Although sometimes fabricated to get out of doing chores or eating dinner, sore tummy’s in kids can be due to:

  • Gut problems: constipation, colic, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammation
  • Infection: gastroenteritis, kidney or bladder infections
  • Food related issues: overeating, food poisoning and food allergies/intolerances
  • Poisoning: spider bites or eating harmful substances
  • Surgical problems: appendicitis or bowel obstruction
  • Stress and anxiety

 

What to do when your child has abdominal pain

When your child has a sore tummy it’s important to make sure they get plenty of rest and drink enough fluids to stay hydrated. This is particularly important if they are experiencing vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Don’t push your child to eat if they’re not hungry — if they are, offer bland foods such as plain crackers, soup, rice or a banana. Run your child a warm bath or use a wheat bag or heat pack on the abdomen to help ease the pain.

When to seek help

Usually pain will settle by itself in a few hours or a few days. Seek further medical help if your child is experiencing:

  • Worsening or severe pain
  • Fever or chills
  • Become pale, sweaty and unwell
  • Vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • Refuses to eat or drink
  • Blood in vomit and bowel motion
  • Problems passing urine

Probiotics

Probiotics, suitable for kids are a 'must have' item to always have in the fridge. You never know when a case of gastroenteritis is going to hit! Administering probiotics can be useful not only as a treatment for gastroenteritis and other infections in the gut it can be taken daily to avoid it happening in the first place. Strains specific for this include Sacchromities boulardii, Lactobacillus acidophilis, Bifidobacteria animalis and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.

Lactobaccillus rhamnosus GG (6 billion daily) has shown some benefits for children with irritable bowel syndrome, significantly reducing the frequency of abdominal pain over a 4-week treatment period. It is also effective in reducing allergies, infection (including diarrhoea) and in increasing the range of good bacteria in the gut.

Probiotics can be used to reduce constipation, colic, reflux, indigestion, bloating and pain, among many others. They help to improve overall digestive wellbeing.

Herbs to relax and soothe the gut

Herbal teas are a gentle but effective way to help settle an upset tummy. Use a good quality organic loose-leaf tea or tea bag and infuse for a few minutes. Add extra cool water until it is the right temperature to drink. A little honey can be used to help make the tea more palatable.

Examples of teas that can help include chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint, liquorice, fennel and ginger. These varieties are readily available from any large pharmacy, supermarket or health food store.

Fresh ginger tea can be made by grating the rhizome and steeping with water in a plunger. Ginger is great to use as a digestive tonic but it can also help if there is vomiting and nausea.

Liquorice root tea can be helpful if constipation is a cause of an upset tummy as it works as a mild laxative. It also helps to soothe inflammation in the digestive tract and relaxes the muscles. It is a naturally sweet tasting herb that is usually well tolerated by children.

Chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint and fennel can help to reduce the spasm of muscles in the gut. Chamomile and lemon balm can also be helpful to calm a child that is anxious and is having trouble sleeping.

A blend of digestive herbs used in drop doses also works quickly to relieve digestive complaints. A product containing a blend of candytuft, angelica root, milk thistle fruit, caraway fruit, celandine, liquorice root, chamomile flower, lemon balm and peppermint has been found to be effective for dyspepsia, abdominal pain, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome. It can be used safely from a very young age to help with colic in infants.

For frequent tummy pains in kids

Finding the cause of chronic abdominal pain in kids can be tricky. Your doctor may want to perform some tests to help find a cause.

Sometimes it can be a result of food allergies and intolerances. One particular study confirmed that food allergy can indeed be a major factor underlying recurrent abdominal pain in children.

Inflammation of the oesophagus, intestine and stomach as well as erosion in the intestine and stomach were also found to be causative factors.

To help reduce inflammation a change in diet is necessary based on a fresh wholefoods. Anti-inflammatory herbs for the gut can be helpful and these include slippery elm powder, aloe vera and turmeric.

Common food allergies in kids include dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, eggs, wheat and shellfish. Other subtler reactions such as food intolerances may also be occurring to a wide range of foods, the most common example is lactose intolerance. Sometimes an elimination diet with rechallenging culprit foods can help to discover if certain foods are causing the problem. A naturopath, nutritionist or dietician can help with guiding your child through an elimination diet.

Too many processed foods?

Have ever eaten a big hamburger or too much chocolate and felt sick? Eating foods too high in fat, particularly saturated and trans fats puts an extra burden on the digestive system.

Have a look at the foods your child eats. Are there too many foods that are from a packet? How much salt, fat and sugar do they contain? Are there many nutrients?

A child’s diet that contains too many processed foods or unhealthy prepared foods tend to be too high in fat, sugar and salt and lack vital nutrients such as fibre, vitamins and minerals. Eating these foods regularly can lead to constipation, bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort.

Reducing these foods and replacing them with fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, lean meat, fish and home-prepared meals can make a significant improvement in general digestive health.

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References

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/abdominal-pain-in-children

Gawronska A, et al. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of Lactobacillus GG for abdominal pain disorders in children. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Jan 15;25(2):177-84

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17229242

Thomsen, M. (2005) Phytotherapy desk reference third edition. Michael Thomsen, Australia

Rosch W, et al. Phytotherapy for functional dyspepsia: a review of the clinical evidence for the herbal preparation STW 5. Phytomedicine. 2006;13 Suppl 5:114-21

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16978851

Kokkonen J, et al. Mucosal pathology of the foregut associated with food allergy and recurrent abdominal pains in children. Acta Paediatr. 2001 Jan;90(1):16-21

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11227327

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