Kid Have a Stomachache? It’s Probably Constipation

Children who complain of acute or chronic abdominal pain are most likely to be suffering from constipation. Unfortunately, many doctors fail to identify the problem because they don’t do the right tests.

Those findings come from University of Iowa researchers who looked at 962 children who were seen at their hospital or clinics. Among that group 83 reported acute abdominal pain, and nearly half – 48 percent – were ultimately diagnosed with constipation. Only 2 percent of the kids were found to have appendicitis or another condition requiring surgery.

“Constipation can be overlooked as the cause of severe or intermittent abdominal pain, as a reporting of symptoms alone does not always establish that a child has constipation,” study author was quoted as saying. “The doctor should perform an abdominal examination and a rectal examination to see if the child is retaining stool.”

Many doctors, however, forego the rectal exam, believing it may cause undue mental or physical discomfort to the child. But Dr. says explaining the test to the child can alleviate some of those concerns.

“Our study helps to show that constipation frequently causes acute abdominal pain and that a physician should not just ask the parent if the child is constipated because the parent may have not been able to see all the signs of this condition.”

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