Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Abdominal Pain - Stress Related

Definition

  • Pain or discomfort in the stomach (abdomen or belly)
  • The stomach pains occur when your child is worried about something
  • This is often called the "worried stomach"

Call or Return If

  • Stomach ache becomes worse than usual
  • Stomach ache lasts longer than usual
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • The pain occurs in the pit of the stomach or near the belly button.
  • The pain is mild to moderate.
  • The pain is real but harmless.

Pain Scale

  • Mild: Your child feels pain and tells you about it. But, the pain does not keep your child from any normal activities. School, play and sleep are not changed.
  • Moderate: The pain keeps your child from doing some normal activities. It may wake him or her up from sleep.
  • Severe: The pain is very bad. It keeps your child from doing all normal activities.

Causes

  • The most common cause of frequent stomach pains is stress and worries.
  • These children tend to be sensitive and very serious. They often are model children.
  • This can make them more at risk to the normal stresses of life.

Prevention of Stress

  • Teach your child the importance of getting adequate sleep
  • Daily exercise releases chemicals that protect from stress.
  • Do something fun and relaxing every day. Examples are music, a walk, reading, and talking with friends.

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • Over 10% of children have a "worried stomach".
  • Your child can learn to control it.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Relax:
  • To treat the pain, help your child get very relaxed.
  • Laying down in a quiet place and taking slow deep breaths will help. Make the belly go up and down with each breath.
  • Then try to relax all the muscles in the body. Think about something pleasant. Listening to CDs that teach how to relax might also help.
Talking:
  • Help your child talk about events that trigger the stomach pain.
  • Talk to your child about how to cope with these the next time around.
  • Help your child worry less about things he or she can't control.
Sleep:
  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep. This should be at least 8 hours each night.
  • Stress is easier to handle if you get adequate sleep.
What to Expect:
  • If your child can relax, the pain may be gone in 30 minutes. If not, the pain may last 2-3 hours.
  • A "worried stomach" won't go away. Many adults have it.
  • The only way to reduce attacks is to learn to deal with normal stresses.
Return to School:
  • Make sure that your child doesn't miss any school because of stomach pains.
  • Stressed children tend to want to stay home when the going gets rough.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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