Chronic abdominal pain is commonly seen in children. One in four children develops abdominal pain that lasts for more than 3 months at a time, at some point between 3-18 years of age. It is one of the most common reasons why parents seek advice from a pediatric gastroenterologist.
Chronic abdominal pain is stomach ache in children that usually lasts for more than 2 months and does not respond to traditional treatments. Often the child has been treated for acidity, gastritis, or dyspepsia. They are given home-remedies, de-worming, antibiotics, and anti-acidity medicines repeatedly for weeks or months.
Abdominal pain is also the leading cause of school absenteeism. It can cause low self-esteem in children and a feeling of helplessness in parents in the absence of appropriate treatment. It also affects a child’s appetite and can lead to poor growth.
As a parent of two girls and a Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist at Max Hospital, Gurgaon, Dr. Nidhi Rawal would like to share this information with the parents who have kids with frequent stomach aches.
Why do children have abdominal pain?
“There are a myriad of reasons as to why a child might experience abdominal pain. It could be as simple as constipation to as serious as Celiac Disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Chronic abdominal pain in kids that are not responding to traditional treatments could be an indication that there is some underlying disease, and it needs to be looked into,” said Dr. Nidhi.
“If initial treatment or medicine for abdominal pain for the child fails to work, then one should consider seeing a pediatric gastroenterologist.”
In children, the location of the pain doesn’t really predict the reason for the pain and hence, a stepwise approach is needed to look at all possible causes. Delay in diagnosis and treatment can have detrimental effects on children’s growth.
Some causes for chronic recurrent abdominal pain in kids may include the following:-
- Acid reflux disease
- Celiac disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Food allergy or intolerance
- Lactose intolerance
- Liver and Gallbladder disease
- Pancreatic disorders
“Some of these conditions, if not treated on time, can require surgical intervention, and hence, timely diagnosis and treatment is very important.”