Posted by: KC | 2013/02/20


Tummy Problems

Hi Dr.
I would greatly appreciate your opinion on the following matter:
My five year old son has been complaining of tummy pains on and off for about a year now. He often wakes up in the morning saying his tummy is sore but is happy to go to school, plays all day and comes home fine. Sometimes he complains of a tummy ache during the day or evening but will still eat and seems ''fine''. Sometimes a complaint about his tummy ache will result in vomiting. This is usually one bout of vomiting and he will then curl up in pain but be absolutely fine a few hours later. I try not to make a big fuss about it but I am obviously concerned and I do try and pin point the obvious causes. I feel his tummy his regular. He never complains about bowel movements but I do get the impression he may rush to get off the toilet as quick as possible - I do discourage him and insist he sit for a little while longer. He is a fussy eater but eats a relatively balanced diet which includes fibre and water etc. He never complains that it hurts to urinate and I always ask if he has any pain in his scrotum/penis to rule out any possible uti causing the tummy aches. His GP at first suggested a food intolerance as there were no physical signs of a problem. I am not convinced as his stools are normal, he does not have excessive wind etc He has also suggested that it is psychological. He is a shy, reserved child (at times) and his teacher said he can be a little anxious but again I am not convinced as this does not explain the sudden bout of vomiting which happens from time to time. My last GP appointment resulted in a trip to xrays to find a cause. My son was in so much pain he could hardly walk and had curled himself up in a ball and slept before the appointment. The xray report indicated mild compaction but no indication of blockage or obstruction etc. He was then put on laxatives. But four days later and he has woken up with a sore tummy but is behaving normally. Again, I am not convinced. When an xray report says mild compaction - is that chronic constipation?
The long and short, should I continue with laxatives even though he is going to the toilet daily or should I make an appointment to see his paed?
Thanks again for all your advice - it is always appreciated!

Expert's Reply



You are welcome. You have given a very full history. I am not convinced that your son needs to be on laxatives. He may just have had some stool in his rectum when the Xrays were taken. There is nothing to suggest that he suffers from constipation. While it is possible that his abdominal pain has a psychological cause which is the commonest cause of recurrent abdominal pain in this age group, the story you give does not fit this diagnosis. His problem seems to be more likely to be due to either a condition called 'periodic vomiting syndrome' or possibly 'abdominal migraine'. Read up about both conditions on Google and see if the descriptions fit your son's condition. Putting him on a migraine diet [also available on Google] may help a lot. If his complaint persists it would be best to see your paediatrician.

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user comments


Posted by: Lu | 2013/02/20

Just putting it out there..... has a similar situation with both my kids recently (2 and 5) both complained about tummy ache since December but had no other simptoms and stools were normal.

Turned out they had a parasite (Giardia), which caused all of this. They had this 2years ago too (slight different situations etc) but similar simptoms on both occasions.

Ask your doc to do a stool test maybe.

Reply to Lu

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