My 15 year old daughter has been complaining of a stomach ache off and on for a few months. She has even ended up in the nurse’s office at school a few times. How do I know if she really has a stomach ache or if she is just trying to avoid going to school?
There are many reasons for stomach pain and stomach aches so it might take some investigation to get to the root cause of the problem. First, you and your daughter may need to discuss her diet and lifestyle.
· Eating on the run?
· Skipping meals?
· Eating fast food?
· Drinking soda, sports drinks, coffee, energy drinks? Mega sized drinks?
· Does she eat meals with the family?
· Eating a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fruits, vegetables and dairy?
It may be difficult for her to discuss these issues with you or she might not be aware of her diet. Maybe she could keep a food diary and write down when she eats, what she eats and how much for 2-3 days. You still may come across as a member of "the healthy food police" but try to keep the conversation supportive and non-judgmental.
Other reasons for stomach pain/stomach aches may include:
· Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
· Menstrual Pain
· Food allergies or intolerances such as lactose intolerance.
· Irritable Bowel Syndrome
· Wearing tight clothes
· Working out after eating
Your teens may not have access to the restroom during the day or her lunch period may be too early or too late. Her class schedule, work and sports may make it impossible to sit down and eat a meal or eat the right foods. These factors may be enough to cause an upset stomach. If the pattern of stomach aches is unclear, have your teen keep a calendar or journal to track when she is having stomach pain/stomach aches. It is best to have your teen see the doctor to assess overall health, height and weight and investigate the cause of the stomach aches. Lifestyle changes, changes to her diet and treatment for underlying medical issues may bring the pain relief she needs to keep up with her busy schedule and get back to school.
Next time: Is it all in her head?