"My Stomach Hurts": Common Causes and Cures for Tummy Trouble

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What it feels like: In addition to general abdominal pain (which frequently occurs at night), a child with IBS usually has bloating and gas. She may also have either diarrhea or constipation.

What's going on: IBS is a cousin of functional abdominal pain. It's more common in adolescents, but some younger kids do get it, particularly if they have a family history of the disease. They tend to have overly sensitive intestines that spasm in response to certain foods and stress. There's no specific test for IBS, but doctors may do some tests to eliminate other possibilities.

What to do: Eating more fiber and less fat can reduce the spasms that cause IBS, and consuming fewer foods and drinks with added fructose (a natural sugar in fruit) and sorbitol can help with diarrhea. Stress-management techniques such as hypnotherapy have been shown to ease IBS symptoms too.

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