Jul 30, 2012 Post By: Children's Health

Finding Answers to Kids Stomach Pain
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.

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 He grew anxious and withdrawn, lost more than 20 pounds,and became “skeletal thin,” she says.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 Location
    • Above the belly button
      • What it could be
        • Reflux
      • How to Treat
        • Try an antacid (if pain recurs or your child is vomiting green, it might be an ulcer a doctor needs to treat)
    • Around the belly button
      • What it could be
        • Constipation or irritable bowel syndrome
      • How to Treat
        • Give the child more to drink and increase his or her fiber intake
    • Below the belly button
      • What it could be
        • Urinary tract infection or appendicitis
      • How to Treat
        • Doctor evaluation, especially if associated with fever, nausea, or vomiting
    • Starts around the belly button and moves to the right lower side and stays there
      • What it could be
        • Appendicitis
      • How to Treat
        • An emergency room visit