When to see a doctor about your child’s tummy ache

“My tummy hurts” is a phrase many parents will be used to hearing on a regular basis. But when should you be concerned enough to take your child to a doctor?

A stomach ache that recurs more than four times a month for more than two months is classed as “chronic” and an intestinal illness may be responsible, according to the Cologne-based Professional Association Of Paediatricians (BVKJ) in Germany.

However, nearly one in four children between three and six years of age suffer from so-called functional abdominal pain, which has no organic cause and is usually due to stress, the association says.

To help a doctor determine what’s behind the pain, the BVKJ recommends keeping a diary.

Your notes should answer the following questions:

1. When do the symptoms occur?

2. What did the child eat prior to them?

3. What does the child generally eat? A lot of fruit, for instance, or sugary drinks?

4. Does the child have diarrhoea or complain of constipation?

Parents should also ask exactly where the pain is and whether it radiates to other parts of the body.

Functional abdominal pain can be caused by stress in the child’s nursery or primary school. Your doctor will want to know whether the child frequently suffers from anxiety, whether there is tension in the family, whether they have trouble sleeping, and how much time they spend daily in front of a screen. – dpa

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