Chronic Abdominal Pain
|Watch Dr. Miranda talk about abdominal pain in children.|
In many instances, the pain or nausea is accompanied by a problem within the nervous system (autonomic disorder) or abnormal motility of the intestines. When a child or adolescent suffers from chronic abdominal pain, the symptoms can lead to a disability that affects the entire family, increasing stress, anxiety or even depression.
Chronic abdominal pain also can be the result of abdominal migraines. The most recognizable symptom of an abdominal migraine is intense episodes of abdominal pain with long periods of normal health without symptoms. In this way, abdominal migraines are similar to migraine headaches.
Abdominal migraines affect 1 to 4 percent of children in the U.S. While they are slightly more common in girls, they also affect boys, usually starting at age 7 and peaking at 10 to 12 years of age.
Most functional disorders do not have a simple test to confirm the problem. Doctors often look for problems like:
- Periods of severe pain around the belly button.
- Normal laboratory tests.
- No "alarm symptoms," like blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss, fever or growth problems.
- Pain that is not related to any other stomach problems.
Potential causes of chronic abdominal pain include caffeine, high sugar intake, strong emotions, travel, long periods of time without enough food, change in sleep patterns, exposure to flickering lights, and social and school stress.
If your child suffers from chronic abdominal pain that is not improving, see a specialist. Our specialists at the Center for Pediatric Neurogastroenterology, Motility and Autonomic Disorders are nationally recognized experts in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic abdominal pain.