KNOXVILLE (WATE) – As kids head back to school, one of the most common reasons they will be seen by a school nurse is for an upset stomach. Children complain of stomachaches for all sorts of reasons, so it can be hard to tell if it’s just back-to-school jitters or for a more serious reason.
Dr. Shannon Cohen with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says there are six top reasons children have stomach aches:
- Emotional Upset: This can be everything from back to school butterflies over changing schools, stress over getting back into a heavy workload, making new friends, adjusting to a new teacher, or even the school lunch routine. The best way to help is to listen to your child’s concerns, try not to over-schedule them and often times just having patience that the jitters will pass. Usually once a routine is established the upset tummy will subside.
- Constipation: This is more common in older children, especially when they have anxiety about using the restroom at school. Sometimes “holding it” will make them constipated. Adding fiber to the child’s diet and making sure they use the bathroom before leaving home can help. If the problem continues talk with your pediatrician about the best treatment for your child.
- Strep Throat: This throat infection is common and easily spread. If your child has an upset stomach combined with sore throat and fever, it could be strep throat.
- Stomach Virus: This is also highly contagious and known to sweep through schools. Signs of stomach virus include painful stomach cramps usually followed by vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- Lactose intolerance: This is when the body lacks the enzyme needed to break down lactose in milk and milk products. Symptoms are similar to a stomach virus, only you may notice a pattern of a severe upset stomach after drinking milk or eating milk products like cheese.
- Appendicitis: This is a potentially serious inflammation of the appendix, a small appendage located on right side of abdomen. Symptoms include persistent abdominal pain that migrates from the midsection to right lower abdomen, nausea and vomiting, and low fever beginning after other symptoms.
You should call a pediatrician if your child has abdominal pain that comes on suddenly or persists, a stomachache with fever, vomiting or diarrhea for more than 24 hours, or recurrent abdominal pain with no explanation.