Travel Anxiety or Mummy Tummy? - My Family Travels

What to do when your child has a tummy ache, from FTF's MD.

Abdominal pain, or bellyache, is a common childhood complaint which extends to the teen years, with everything from flu, to school avoidance, to foreign foods bringing on the lament of a painful tummy. Most “simple” stomach aches are located in the center of the abdomen and experienced as a dull or crampy pain. The child usually can move around, despite his or her discomfort, and feels well during the interval between episodes of pain. This type of  stomachache is often caused by nervous tension or physical stress and frequently follows eating or drinking. It may be associated with constipation and gas, which also result from a change of body rhythms in new time zones. Typically, a child with a stomach ache caused by stress may be difficult to manage. The ‘cure’ for this very real pain is usually a combination of reassurance and understanding and support, which goes a long way in helping to alleviate a young child’s stress. Antacids, clear liquids or a warm bath may help older children ease their distress.

Parents should be aware of a few other causes of abdominal pain that may require medical evaluation. Strep throat, pneumonia, urinary infection, ulcer disease and the early stages of appendicitis can all look like simple stomachaches. A good rule of thumb is that if your child’s complaints of stomach pain are not assuaged by the usual comforts, especially in the presence of vomiting, diarrhea or fever, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Travelers who experience a change of diet may succumb to Mummy Tummy, the Runs, Delhi Belly, Turista — all names for what is usually a brief bout of ‘traveler’s diarrhea.’ In countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Peru, Thailand, China, India, or Nepal, diarrhea may be the result of bacterial and parasitic illnesses, such as shigella and giardia, that require treatment. Intestinal infections, both viral and especially bacterial, can also cause excessive stomach pain, vomiting and possibly fever. The traveler’s first line of defense is caution: don’t drink tap water, stick to bottled carbonated beverages; never eat raw fruits and vegetables unless they can be peeled, such as papaya. If symptoms of infection occur, dehydration often follows. The child should be seen by a physician immediately for possible medical treatment.

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1 Reply to “Travel Anxiety or Mummy Tummy?”

  • Great advise and said in very simple language in order for a range of readers to process. I must add that the symptoms and solutions are equally as important in adults who suffer from abdominal illness.