Stress related stomach pain in child

Stress related stomach pain in children

Parents need to know that  according to studies on children health, stress in children causes abdominal pain and stress can also make abdominal pain worse. Children with chronic and frequent stomach pain are more likely to have anxiety disorders in adulthood.  The feeling adults get when we are nervous – “butterflies in stomach” and feeling sick is something like what kids feel when they are stressed out. Children feel the same things and might not be able to express what is happening to them.

The reason children often feel abdominal pain for no visible reasons is because, the stomach and intestine both have their own nervous system called enteric nervous system. Enteric nerves respond to the stress hormones and send to the brains. When there is stress and fatigue pain threshold reduce in children (as well as in adults).  During stress a small disturbance in digestive system or a passage of gas bubble can feel worse in children. In addition, stress related eating of comfort foods can make the pain worse. Children tend to eat more lactose and fructose, or they demand for such food. Children have poor ability to digest these foods and it causes uneasiness, pain, bloating, cramping and diarrhea in children. These changes also cause inflammation in intestine and sometimes bleeding in stool. This is inflammatory bowel disease with little blood in stool. Inflammation in the intestine affect brain and makes children more sensitive to pain. If you feel that your child is healthy but showing these above symptoms related to stress, talk to your child’s pediatrician.

Parent also can help child to get relief from stress. Reasons for stress in children can be due to several reasons.

  • Bullying, meanness of other kids
  • Unable to take part in sports
  • Unable to take part in discussion
  • Body image
  • Unable to make friendship and feeling lonely
  • Inferior performance in studies
  • Parents fights
  • Physical abuse etc.

Some stress can be helpful but not all. Helpful stress that is related to sports or studies will help your child up to manage life in the future. Those stress that can be fixed with your interference, should be taken care soon. Parents must also encourage child to take part and continue normal activities during stress. School absence is common among children who often suffer from abdominal pain. Encourage child to go back to school and monitor child’s activity closely.

Apart from medication, some counseling will possibly help the child to come out from tension, anxiety and stress. In addition, meditation that brings mindfulness in child, helps to reduce pain. Slow breathing, walking, meditation, yoga, sports, exercise, extracurricular activities, counseling – all these does not have any side effect like medicines and focusing on happiness helps children to overcome stress and anxiety.

Talk to your children and understand what they are feeling, what activities they are involved at school or outside. If they have stress, it can worsen the pain. Devoting sometime solely to child and giving positive attention helps child to recover sooner.


Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: May 29, 2019

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