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Management of abdominal pain

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By Rotimi Adesanya
Children often complain of stomach ache (pain in the tummy). It can be a sign of illness, but often a child will have pain and may not be ill. Abdominal pain is not a disease but a symptom of many diseases.
A common cause of being upset in babies under six months old, colic describes the unexplained stomach pain experienced by otherwise healthy babies for part of most days. Aside from extremely unsettled, babies with colic will extend their legs and then pull them up hard against their belly, as well as pass excessive gas. There is no cure for colic but the vast majority of babies will have outgrown the condition by five months
Constipation: Constipation is often the cause of mysterious stomach aches that come and go. Constipation can cause sharp stomach aches that are centred around the left side of the belly and nausea. Increasing fibre and fluid in the diet will bring relief to this condition.
Diarrhoea: Abdominal cramping and gurgling guts are the most common types of stomach ache that accompany diarrhoea. As diarrhoea can accompany both viral and bacterial infections, along with food poisoning and parasites, it is best to keep a close eye on it.
Worms: An infestation of roundworms can cause bad stomach aches if the infestation has been allowed to get out of hand. A stomach ache caused by worms stems from bloating and excessive gas. It can also cause cramps and possibly diarrhoea and will not respond well to any home remedies. Anti-worming medication is really the only thing that will improve this type of tummy ache.
Gastroenteritis: Gastroenteritis, or more commonly known as ‘stomach flu’ or ‘stomach bug’, occurs after a viral or bacterial infection. The stomach aches that come with gastro are usually connected to vomiting and/or diarrhoea so can involve bad abdominal cramping and sharp pain up under the ribs due to the spasming that occurs with bouts of vomiting. The best ways to ease the tummy aches that come with gastro are by offering small sips of clear fluids.
Indigestion: Stomach aches that are sharp and high and are possibly made worse by taking a deep breath, are usually due to indigestion. Indigestion is a major cause of tummy ache in kids and is usually due to overeating, eating too quickly or drinking too many fizzy drinks or juices. Resting quietly with a hot water bottle over the tender area should provide some quick relief.
Anxiety: Stomach pain associated with anxiety is most common in kids aged 5 – 10 years old. These stomach aches often present as ‘butterflies’ in the tummy or diarrhoea-like symptoms. If suffering from this type of tummy ache, your child may want to sit on the toilet to find relief.
Lactose intolerance: Lactose intolerance causes bloating, gas and diarrhoea. These symptoms will become worse with the ongoing exposure to dairy products. Aside from temporarily easing the stomach pain with rest, heat and sitting on the toilet, the best and only way to be rid of these types of stomach aches is to identify this intolerance and then to eradicate lactose from your child’s diet permanently.
Urinary tract infection: Stomach aches associated with urinary tract infection tend to produce tenderness when the pelvic area is touched, as well as frequent and painful urination. Urinary tract infections can also cause nausea, vomiting and fever. If you suspect your child has a urinary tract infection, you should see your doctor for treatment.
Appendicitis: When it comes to stomach aches, appendicitis is definitely not the first diagnosis you should jump to! While appendicitis is reasonably uncommon, it does occur and if you suspect your child is suffering from the condition, you should see your doctor immediately. Stomach aches caused by appendicitis get worse over a few hours. The pain is centred over the lower right hand section or middle of the abdomen and is tender to touch. Appendicitis may cause nausea and vomiting as well as a fever.
Sickle cell Pain: This is a clear case of abdominal (sickle cell crises).Self medication is dangerous  and should be avoided.
Home Remedies
Rest: Encourage your child to lie down quietly for 20 minutes. Lying flat on his back with his knees bent is the best position to ease a tummy ache.
Drink water: Small regular sips of water can help ease a tummy ache – be careful though not to let your child drink too much too fast as this can make the pain worse and can result in vomiting.
Sit on the toilet Seat: Encourage your child to sit on the toilet – for longer than a minute! Aside from the obvious benefits, the position he maintains while sitting on the toilet is an effective way of dispelling painful gas.
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