Tummy troubles

February 10, 2019| Health and Wellbeing /

Tummy aches can be extremely common in young children. Some are mild and non threatening, others need to be taken more seriously. Here we will run through a few different concerns and how best to handle the pain for your little one.

Our second son seemed to be born with a tummy ache. He was constantly squirming and uncomfortable and very upset for the first 12 weeks of his life. It turned out he had colic, and while it eventually settled down, it was a pretty miserable time!

Jennifer Mines, Emergency Physician, at Epworth Richmond says colic is a very common reason for tummy aches in babies. Others reasons include “infections, like gastroenteritis, or a urinary tract infection. Bowel pain is often crampy and colicky and very common.  It can be relieved by passing gas or stool. Certain food intolerances may present with bloating and pain.”

Less common and more serious tummy pains can be caused by “appendicitis, a twisted bowel, or a twisted testicle or ovary.  These tend to cause severe pain and vomiting” says Dr Mines.

You can feel helpless when your child is in pain but there are some things that can be done at home to comfort them.

Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used as needed. A heat pack might help some pains but make sure you don’t overheat as there is always a risk of burning the skin.

Gentle massage using baby oil around the belly button can help little ones pass wind, bicycling the legs also works well.

Encourage sips of water or breast milk if you’re breastfeeding, to help prevent dehydration.

If you feel like you’ve tried everything and your child is still in pain it’s important to see a doctor.

Severe pain, not relieved with simple painkillers, persistent pain, not relieved by opening bowels or bladder, lasting hours, or fever are all red flags.
— Dr Jennifer Mines, Emergency Physician, Epworth HealthCare

“Associated symptoms like vomiting, pain when your child empties their bladder, and if your little one is unable to eat and drink” should also be looked at.

Some important things to remember; minor pains can be managed at home with pain relief. Baby massage, warm baths and lots of fluids can help. If your child is distressed please don’t hesitate to see a doctor.

At Epworth Emergency we’re always happy to see children, and have access to paediatric surgeons and paediatric specialists if further investigations or admission is required.

Erin Giansiracusa


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