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Tummy Troubles: What Might Cause Those GI Issues

From the Show: Healthy Children
Summary: How do you know when it's just a tummy ache or when you should call the doctor?
Air Date: 7/18/17
Duration: 14:23
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Anthony Porto, MD
Dr. Antony PortoAnthony Porto, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a board certified pediatrician and board certified pediatric gastroenterologist. He is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Clinical Chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Yale University. He is also the medical director of the Yale Pediatric Celiac Program.

Within the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Porto sits on the PREP Gastroenterology Advisory Board and is a member of the Section on Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. He is also a member of the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition's Public Education Committee, a pediatric expert on nutrition for The Bump's Real Answers, and is the co-author of The Pediatrician's Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers. Follow him on Instagram @Pediatriciansguide.
Tummy Troubles: What Might Cause Those GI Issues
Tummy aches are common complaints for young children. How do you know when to call your pediatrician?

What’s Normal?

Infants spit up food and get constipated in early life. Make sure the child eats, wets plenty of diapers, and is growing. Symptoms should improve after three or four months of age. Constipation is normal when you introduce solid foods around six months. Transitioning to whole milk at one year also leads to constipation. It should even out soon after your baby is used to digesting whole milk.

Potty training time can bring some constipation as toddlers learn muscle control. You can always put the diapers back on to relieve pressure and see if the pain goes away. If your child has hard stool, be sure he’s getting plenty of fiber and drinking water. Bowel movements at night, blood mixed into the stool, or vomiting with constipation are reasons to see a pediatrician.

Keeping a symptom diary with notes on diet can help diagnose what may cause digestive issues in your child. This is a great way to pinpoint food intolerance. Dairy consumption, greasy foods and acidic diets can be altered to reduce digestive problems.

If stomach pain lasts more than three months, it’s time to be concerned. Watch for rashes and weight loss. Keep family history in mind.

Where Does it Hurt?

Pain in the upper right area of the stomach may indicate gall bladder issues or gall stones.

Diffused pain could be related to stress. Note when it is happening in your child’s life.

Appendicitis typically starts with pain around the belly button. The pain is so intense the child will likely refuse food. There may be some vomiting. Pain will move to the lower right side that is tender to the touch. Light physical shaking can cause pain. Call your pediatrician or head to the ER right away.

Easing the Pain

There are physical activities that can ease tummy pain. Pulling the knees into the chest or doing bicycle exercises on the back may move gas. 

Gentle abdominal massages are good for the digestive tract. Start on the lower right part of the belly with light pressure. Work your way up the right side of the stomach. Turn at the rib cage and continue with pressure at the top of the tummy as you massage your way to the left side of the body. Finish by moving your hands down the left side of the body. This should help release gas from the colon.

Probiotics for Kids

Probiotics can be beneficial for children. They can help reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea when your child is prescribed antibiotics. They’ve also helped decrease the duration and frequency of diarrhea from stomach bugs.

Listen as Dr. Anthony Porto joins Melanie Cole, MS, to guide you through your child’s tummy troubles.

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