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There can be many causes of stomach aches and cramps including food poisoning, an infection (stomach bug), overeating, food intolerances, constipation and emotional excitement, anxiety, stress or upset. Stomach aches are particularly common in children.

If you are constipated follow the link above for information.

If stomach ache is accompanied by vomiting and diarrhoea this is an indication that food poisoning or an infection are the likely cause (see the relevant sections for advice). Stomach pain may also be a sign of a urinary infection such as cystitis particularly if urination is painful with cloudy or strong-smelling urine.

Many children's stomach aches are due to the emotions so try giving your child a cuddle and gently massage the tummy to see if that helps. Try to encourage your child to talk about their feelings and go to Crystal Essences in the Family Pharmacy for suitable remedies to help deal with emotional issues. Make sure that the whole family eats a healthy diet and include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, fibre and fluids - filtered or bottled water, herbal teas and fresh diluted juices.

Bloating is a very common stomach complaint, particularly in women and may be caused by stress, emotions and food intolerances. These symptoms may be an indication of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) particularly if there is also constipation, diarrhoea or both. The most common problem foods are wheat, dairy, coffee, tea, alcohol, chocolate and citrus fruits. If you suspect particular foods are the problem keep a food diary and see your doctor to discuss food allergy testing. You can also arrange to have an allergy test done privately. Once you know which foods are upsetting your gut, eliminate them for at least six months before attempting to re-introduce them in small amounts. Your doctor can refer you to see a dietician for help with an elimination diet. Alternatively Radionics and Bio-Resonance practitioners work to eliminate allergens through different types of energy healing. Reducing stress levels and emotional upset is an important way of improving the symptoms of IBS so consider yoga or another form of meditation, counselling, or Autogenic (mind-body) Therapy to see if that helps.  If stomach ache is severe or persistent see your doctor or health care provider.

TO HELP EASE A STOMACH ACHE:

• Avoid solid food until the stomach ache has gone.

• Hold a hot water bottle (with warm water in) over the stomach. Try to relax and take slow deep breaths, expanding the stomach as you inhale.

• Try ginger, chamomile or peppermint tea to help soothe the stomach - see Herbal Tea.

• Dilute lavender or peppermint oil in a base oil and massage it into the stomach. Also try burning lavender in an oil burner or vaporiser to help relax the body - see Essential Oils.

SUPPLEMENTS FOR HEALTHY DIGESTION:

Probiotics - a probiotic supplement helps to replenish levels of good bacteria in the gut and strengthens the digestion. It is also needed to help with the production of B vitamins which improve muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract - see Probiotics and Probiotics for Babies & Children.

Digestive Enzymes - for better digestion of foods try taking a digestive enzyme complex with each meal - see Digestive Enzymes.

Fibre - taking extra fibre can have both a healing and cleansing effect on the gut - see Cleansing Detox & Fibre.

Herbs - 'Di-Jest' contains a blend of digestive herbs and can be used for many gastro-intestinal upsets such as those caused by poor diet, overeating, or foods that don't agree with the body, as well as bloating, and is available as a liquid extract or capsule. 'Intestinal Bowel Supplement' capsules are a similar supplement and contain ginger, peppermint, fennel, chamomile and cardamom oils to help calm and support the digestive system. 'Slippery Elm Plus' is a combination formula in capsules which helps to soothe the digestive tract - see Herbs.

Children from the age of two can use 'Kiddy Tum' a gentle blend of herbs, including slippery elm, in a tincture to help relieve the pain and discomfort of gastric upset. 'Kid Chamomile' is especially suitable for upset stomachs, which often occur with sensitive, anxious, hyperactive or easily distressed children. For stomach ache that is caused by indigestion, wind, colic, overeating or unsuitable foods try 'Windy Pops'- see Herbs for Babies & Children.

NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.

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