‘Tis the season of over-consumption. Leaving alone the materialistic side of this subject, there is still much to be over-consumed, especially when it comes to holiday foods. While adults have their own set of struggles, the holiday celebrations are not exactly a piece of cake for the little ones either...which, incidentally, is often the culprit of the subject at hand.
Kids get tummy aches, this isn’t anything new, but during this season of decadent foods and swiftly disseminating viruses, it can be hard to tell what if your little one’s ailment is something that needs medical attention or a heaping serving of healthy vegetables.
Common causes of a stomach ache in children
- Stomach flu
- Acid reflux/heartburn
- Food allergies
- Food foisoning
Some of the less serious but seriously uncomfortable causes of stomach pain for kids include gas, constipation and acid reflux. Any or all of these can be caused by changes in eating habits, over-eating, and too much sugar or sweets (and we know that’s pretty much a given during the holiday season).
There are a few symptoms that you should keep an eye out for, because these can be signs of illness or infection and you will need to get your child to a doctor as soon as possible. Appendicitis is common during childhood, often comes with the tell-tale sign of sharp and intense pain in the lower right side of the stomach, and usually requires surgery so get to the doctor quickly. Food allergies can also cause stomach pains, but if this discomfort brought tingling lips, swelling of the throat or hives along with it, this is a sign of anaphylaxis and emergency medical attention is a must.
Then there is the dreaded “stomach flu,” which isn’t really influenza but a gastrointestinal virus. Norovirus is the most common cause, but there are a few others out there, not that it matters because they all cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. If that sounds strikingly similar to food poisoning, that’s because the symptoms are nearly identical. Really the only way to tell them apart is timing. If the symptoms come on quickly, usually within six hours of eating, and others who ate the same food became sick at about the same time, it’s probably food poisoning. If the symptoms seem to build over hours or even days, it’s probably a virus.
Natural remedies for kids' tummy aches
For a stomach virus or food poisoning, there isn’t much that can be done. Once the peak of the illness passes and your kids can actually keep something in their stomach, keep it simple. The BRAT diet is the tried and true way to get your child on the mend. The American Pediatric Association recommends this low fat, fiber and protein diet for the first twenty-four hours after a stomach illness strikes to give their stomach a chance to recover, but then resuming normal eating habits to help your little one get the nutrients they need.
A: apple sauce
T: dry toast
Acid reflux, heartburn, and gas can really freak a kid out, especially if they’ve never experienced it before. Those over the counter heartburn treatments are not meant for kids, so don’t just toss a handful of acid reducers at them and call it a night. Instead, natural remedies are going to be a safer and more effective choice. Rest, a cup of tea, and avoiding hard to digest or acidic foods like broccoli, beans, citrus juices are the quickest route to recovery.
If constipation is the culprit, increase their fiber intake with kid friendly foods like dried fruits, berries, almonds, chia seeds and sweet potatoes. If you need to resort to fiber supplements, there are some great natural options made specifically for kids, but avoid using laxatives unless directed by your doctor.
Tummy-friendly teas & drinks