Stomachaches: Is It Clinical or Emotional?

By Holly Giovi, RN
Child that isn't feeling well

As a registered school nurse with over 28 years of experience, I have seen countless children come into my office complaining of stomachaches. Some of these stomachaches are caused by physical ailments, while others are caused by emotional distress. As a parent, it can be challenging to determine which type of stomachache your child is experiencing.

Here are some tips on how to determine if the stomachache is clinical or emotional.

Ask Your Child to Describe Their Pain

The first step in distinguishing between clinical and emotional stomachaches is to ask the child to describe the pain. Clinical stomachaches are generally described as a dull, achy pain in the abdominal area, often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Emotional stomach aches are typically described as a sharp pain that comes and goes and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as headaches, dizziness or fatigue.

If the child’s stomachache is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, it is likely a clinical stomachache. In this case, it is essential to keep the child hydrated and seek medical attention if the symptoms persist or worsen. Additionally, disinfecting high-touch surfaces that may have come into contact with germs is crucial. Simple solutions such as wiping down surfaces with Lysol Disinfecting Wipes or disinfecting with Lysol Disinfecting Spray can help prevent the spread of illness-causing germs from spreading throughout the household.

What You Can Do to Help their Anxiety

If the stomachache is not accompanied by other symptoms and appears to be related to emotional distress, there are several things parents can do to help their child feel better. Talking to the child about what is causing their stress or anxiety is one of the best ways to help. Encourage them to share their feelings and listen without judgment. This open dialogue can create a supportive environment where the child feels comfortable sharing their emotions.

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga can help the child to relax. Encourage them to take breaks throughout the day to engage in these activities and to take care of their emotional well-being. Creating a safe and supportive environment at home, setting aside time each day to connect with your child, providing opportunities for them to engage in activities they enjoy and offering plenty of encouragement and positive feedback can also help.

If emotional stomachaches persist or worsen, seeking the assistance of a mental health professional may be helpful. A therapist or counselor can work with the child to identify the underlying causes of their stress or anxiety and develop coping strategies that will help them manage their emotions more effectively.

Resources to Help Get Through Stomachaches

Parents are their child’s greatest advocates, and it is essential to seek medical or mental health assistance if you are concerned about your child’s health or well-being. Working together, parents can help their child navigate any physical or emotional challenges they may be experiencing and support them as they grow and thrive.

Lysol’s HERE for Healthy Schools Program offers interactive lesson plans, age-specific activities, and worksheets to make it easy to help children learn healthy habits in fun and engaging ways. Encourage your child’s teachers to implement healthy habits programming in schools and reinforce them at home to help reduce the spread of illness-causing germs and that may cause stomachaches.

Stomachaches can be caused by physical or emotional issues, and as a parent, it’s important to distinguish between the two. By understanding the symptoms of clinical and emotional stomachaches, parents can take appropriate steps to help their child feel better and stay healthy. Additionally, resources such as Lysol’s HERE for Healthy Schools Program can provide additional tools and support for a child’s physical and emotional well-being. Remember to seek assistance if needed and work together to support your child’s physical and emotional health.

Holly Giovi, RN, is a school nurse from Long Island, N.Y., wife, mom and mentor to hundreds of school nurses across the globe.

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