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Daughter with recurrent tummy aches after eating - any ideas?

Hello everyone!

I have an 11 year old daughter who has been getting tummy aches for a few months. They are not very bad pains as far as I can tell, although some are worse than others. It always comes on during eating , usually towards the end of the meal, and then can last for a couple of hours, gradually fading away. There is no sickness or diarrhoea. She finishes her meals and it doesn't seem to matter whether it is a meal she likes or dislikes (she has always been quite fussy, but I don't believe this is a behaviour thing). She is otherwise a fit, well, thriving child.

The pain does seem to be closely sited to her stomach - obviously with her age we thought of puberty related things but that doesn't seem to be the case. She has noted the tummy aches on her diary for a couple of months and I cannot see a pattern, other than that it will happen for a few days, then disappear for a few days.

Because I have Crohn's Colitis I am obviously concerned that she may have some gut problem. However, I never had any problems until I was 40 and my condition was quick onset and now controlled on medication after a couple of nasty initial flares, so there is not a strong family link.

I'm sure that if I took her to the GP now there would be little that they could do based on such mild symptoms, and I don't think it warrants anything as invasive as a gastroscopy, but I know that with any kind of IBD an early diagnosis would be better than waiting until any permanent damage is done.

At the moment I am going to start a food diary for her to see if she is sensitive to any particular foods and then there may be something to go on if we do go the see a doctor.

I just wondered if anyone else had any similar experiences, or any advice on what else I need to do.

I don't want to overreact when, at present, we seem to just be dealing with a few tummy aches, but it's the link to eating which is worrying me.

Thanks in advance.




I had some blood tests and faecal calprotectin done for my non IBD daughter for mild stomach aches.

Full bloods

The faecal calprotectin was done due to low iron levels with borderline anemia. The results have put my mind to rest.
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My son has crohn's and my daughter has similar issues to your daughter. I would say hers is more of a heartburn type pain. It is in her stomach but higher towards her chest too. If she chews antacid (Tums) it helps a lot.

Before my son was diagnosed he had the same issue but would also get nausea. He would not be able to finish dinner and never ate much. He was losing weight (a couple of pounds) at each check up for about 2 years. Because my daughter is still growing and gaining weight her Dr. doesn't want to do any tests yet. My son's was caught by a stool test that found protein. We were then sent to a GI. A fecal cal (wasn't available when my son was diagnosed) would be a relatively inexpensive and totally non-invasive way to see what is going on. My daughter's Dr. doesn't think it is necessary yet, I could insist though. My daughter also has mouth ulcers, and has had blood in her stool. My son never had diarrhea, he had constipation.

Her DR. will probably tell you to keep monitoring and they will wait and see, but you could ask for a fecal cal to put your mind at ease. What your describing could happen with a completely healthy child but I do understand your concern. I am at the same place with my daughter.

Good luck:heart:
My son was the same way. It started with stomach aches during and after eating. Unfortunately, he ended up being dx'd with both Celiac and Crohn's, so we're not sure which disease caused the initial stomach aches. I'm thinking it was the Celiac. If that's the case with your daughter, a food diary will be really helpful. Otherwise, like the others have said, a fecal calprotectin stool test would be non-invasive, though Celiac can also cause a high fecal calprotectin result as well. If any new symptoms start up, like nausea, vomiting, change in stooling, that would definately warrant a doctor visit, especially with your family history.
My son also had pain during and just after eating. He didn't have much of an appetite wouldn't finish a meal. He would also need to use the bathroom immediately after eating. He had other symptoms too though including mouth ulcers, sores at the corners of his mouth and fatigue. It took many visits to the GP but eventually they checked his blood and he was found to be anaemic, this led on to scopes and his Crohn's diagnosis.
Thanks for all the replies.

I think we'll get going with the food diary and see what happens. I don't want to ask my daughter any leading questions as she easily latches on to any suggestions. I definitely don't want her to know that I'm worried about her having any sort of IBD, and so that is another reason for the softly softly approach, as she had seen how rough I had felt when I was flaring.

If we do go to the doctors then knowing that we can maybe get some indication from stool tests is very reassuring. They never did a fecal cal test for me, perhaps because I had obvious ulceration and bleeding and ended up straight in the scope department!

It's so hard not to think the worst or to feel like I'm somehow to blame if she does end up having the same problems as me.

my little penguin

Staff member
The other thing to keep in mind is gastroparesis .
Which can cause nausea , lack of appetite, stomach pain etc....
Good luck with your tests .
We have DS rate his stomach pain on a scale of one to ten.
By tracking that with what I see as a mom - it gives a better non emotional tracking.
We ask or he writes it down so we can see the trend of of the pain is getting better or worse.
Ibd sick kids has an app which has you rate thing plus touch the stomach area to mark the spot of the pain - again good for tracking .

My son also started with mild pain around the belly button area after eating. He also had been having mouth ulcers for a along time. When he started having blood in his stool they did a fecal cal test which showed very elevated levels...it was the beginning of getting a diagnosis. My husband who also has crohns didn't start having problems until he was 50 so we didn't suspect anything similar with my son (hubby hadn't been diagnosed yet). It's an easy test and could save time and any damage inflammation might be doing to her gut, and with your medical history they might be very willing to give it a go. Keeping a food diary is a good idea anyways. Best of luck.
Sorry to hear you are going through this hopefully it is nothing. I agree with the others though ask for a fecal cal and blood work it can definitly set your mind at ease. Keep us posted how she is doing.
Thanks everyone.

Awmom - you have just reminded me that she does complain of mouth ulcers quite often and I had just been putting it down to the changeover from milk teeth to adult teeth, and blackmailing her into eating more fruit! It is definitely something else to consider, especially as my son doesn't ever seem to get them.

I will post back if there are any more developments or if we go on to have any tests done.
Monitoring symptoms is a good idea. I also like the fecal calprotectin idea suggested above. It wouldn't hurt to ask for a panel of bloodwork to check for anemia, elevated CRP and other basics. But, I will add that my son has Crohn's and other than elevated CRP, his bloodwork is normal. The stool for calprotectin was abnormal. If I knew then what I know now, he would have had a stool for calprotectin many months ago. My son never had GI complaints with Crohn's until after diagnosis. It's a sneaky disease.
Just a quick update, in case anyone else has the same situation.

I took my daughter to the GP (who has always been fab) along with the food diary (which didn't suggest any specific trigger).

After lots of questions and abdominal examination the GP suggested that her pain could be caused by acid reflux. This was something that had crossed my mind and, in hindsight, I realised that it had started during the weeks running up to my daughter's school SATs tests.

I have just realised that she recently has not mentioned tummy pains at all, which suggests that the GP was right and that now her school life is settling, so is her reflux.

I am so relieved that it has not turned out to be anything more worrying, but it also makes me so cross that the SATs have obviously stressed her out enough to cause this. She is very high-achieving at school and had nothing to worry about academically, but the pupils were coached so intensively that it has definitely affected her. I will stop now as I could go on and on ranting about SATs tests and teachers and just who is meant to be being assessed anyway.......!!!!!

I am speaking from the point of view of being someone whose cause of Crohn's can almost certainly be linked to a period of intense stress, and who still struggles with irrational anxiety.

Anyway, I just wanted to reassure any worried parents that there doesn't always have to be a horrible diagnosis, and sometimes things do work out OK.