My Child’s Tummy Hurts All the Time: Is it Lactose Intolerance?

child's tummy hurts all the time

Your child’s tummy hurts all the time. It’s almost everyday, but you’re not quite sure what it is. Abdominal pain is one of the most common complaints by patients in the ER, but because there are such a wide range of causes, it can be difficult to diagnose exactly what’s going on, especially in young children who can’t describe what they’re feeling. Could it be something as serious as appendicitis or Celiac’s disease? Or could it be a tummy ache from something they ate, perhaps a dairy product?

Lactose intolerance, which is the inability to digest the lactose component of milk and some other dairy products, is actually pretty common. Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. Could this be the cause of your child’s tummy troubles?

Is Lactose Intolerance the Reason My Child’s Tummy Hurts All the Time?

The best thing to do is to monitor your child after they consume products with lactose including milk, cheese, cream, cream cheese, whipped cream, ice cream, yogurt and so on. The most common symptoms of lactose intolerance are bloating and stomach pain, typically around the navel and lower tummy. This happens when bacteria is fermented in the colon after not being digested. This process leads to excess gas and water. Some other symptoms include the following:

Diarrhea: Lactose intolerant children and infants are more prone to diarrhea than adults are. Diarrhea is caused by excess water in the colon, which increases the amount of liquid in the stool.

Increased Gas: When lactose ferments in the colon, it increases the production of hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide.

Constipation: Although diarrhea is more common in lactose intolerant people, constipation can occasionally happen. As bacteria in the colon ferments undigested lactose, they produce methane gas. Methane may slow down the speed of food moving through the gut, which can result in constipation in some people.

Vomiting: Bloating and pain may cause nausea or vomiting, although this is rare.

How Can a Doctor Determine if Lactose is Why My Child’s Tummy Hurts All the Time?

If you’re not 100% sure if your child is lactose intolerant, you can always seek a doctor’s advice. The doctor may ask you to eliminate dairy products from your child’s diet to see if there is an improvement. They can also order a hydrogen breath test or a blood sugar test to see if your child is digesting lactose normally.

Want to know more about the symptoms of an appendicitis or Celiac’s disease? Read Hospitality Health ER’s blog posts entitled Appendicitis or Bad Tummy Ache and Gluten or Gluten Free? What’s the Big Fuss?