Finding Answers to Kids Stomach Pain

Lori Muller with son

Lori & Eric

Lori Muller knew that her son Eric wasn’t making up his stomachaches, even though every doctor and specialist who saw the 12-year-old couldn’t find anything wrong. He grew anxious and withdrawn, lost more than 20 pounds,and became “skeletal thin,” she says. His constant pain even prompted Lori to start home-schooling him.

The concerned Mom finally got answers at Children’s, where Meg Sathe, M.D., attending physician, Gastroenterology, diagnosed him with functional abdominal pain (FAP). With the condition, the nervous system cranks so high that a person feels extreme pain when others might just think, “Oh, my stomach kind of hurts today.”

It’s the equivalent of a child getting a migraine from being nervous, and Eric had a severe case. Dr. Sathe treated the medical aspect of the problem, while Gabby Reed, a psychologist, equipped him with the necessary mental tools to fight his condition.

Now, two years later, Eric has occasional stomach pain but nothing serious. He’s back in band and plays football and basketball. “He’s our kid again. He’s Eric again,” Lori says.

Kids and Stomachaches

With a stomachache, it’s hard to tell if your child just ate too much or if it’s something more serious. The pain location can help you determine what to do.

Pain LocationWhat It Could BeHow To Treat
Above the belly buttonRefluxTry an antacid (if pain recurs or your child is vomiting green, it might be an ulcer a doctor needs to treat)
Around the belly buttonConstipation or irritable bowel syndromeGive the child more to drink and increase his or her fiber intake
Below the belly buttonUrinary tract infection or appendicitisDoctor evaluation, especially if associated with fever, nausea, or vomiting
Starts around the belly button and moves to the right lower side and stays thereAppendicitisAn emergency room visit



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