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Understanding Tummy Trouble

Gas Pain in Infants and Newborns

Symptoms, Causes and Remedies to End a Baby’s Suffering

Gas discomfort upsets almost every baby to some degree and it affects both breast-fed and bottle-fed babies. While gas pain is common and can afflict a child at any age, it is particularly bothersome in newborns and young infants between one and four months of age, as their immature guts are developing. Furthermore, some babies seem to suffer more than others due to inborn and environmental factors.

Gas is a common symptom of intestinal disorders, but it is rarely a sign of a serious problem, according to Donald Schiff, M.D. and Steven Shelov, M.D. at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Infant Gas?

When tummy upset strikes a child, a parent’s first instinct is to find a safe and natural solution, but babies obviously can’t tell us the location and nature of their problem. Thus, knowing and observing the signs of intestinal gas is necessary to identify an effective remedy.

What Causes Babies to Experience Gas Pain?

Gas is a natural by-product of digesting the nutrients in breast milk or formula and the digestive system normally expels it without any discomfort whatsoever. However, since gas is buoyant it creates pressure in the opposite direction of gastric flow. When gas becomes trapped in the intestines it causes a painful pressure build-up. There are several factors that contribute to this:

Food Sensitivities in Babies and Children

In a young infant, food sensitivity may manifest itself through colicky symptoms–anything from unnatural, persistent fussiness, to inconsolable, ear-piercing screams that may go on for hours at a time. The baby might develop unexplained rashes–a possible giveaway that the breastfed infant’s gastric system is reacting to foods that his or her mother eats; to ingredients in formula, in the case of a bottle-fed baby; or to foods from a complementary diet, if the baby has begun eating solid foods.

In an older child, the list of possible indicators that the child has food sensitivities is quite a bit longer; it includes such symptoms as headaches, stomach ache, runny nose, sneezing, loose stool, chronic cold, chronic ear infection, constipation, rash, asthma, irritability or lethargy.

What Is the Difference Between Food Allergy and Food Sensitivity?

A food allergy involves a response by a person’s immune system. An allergic reaction usually takes place not long after the food is consumed, anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or two after ingestion. When the body mistakes a protein or proteins in the food as harmful, it releases germ-fighting organisms, called antibodies, which proceed to fight the offending food. An allergic reaction can result in a rash or hives, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the tongue, and even swelling of the airways to the lungs–a potentially deadly reaction.

A food sensitivity takes longer to manifest itself–up to three days after eating the food–so, it’s a little trickier to pinpoint. However, the symptoms are not as potentially severe as those of an allergic reaction. Food sensitivities can result in nausea, stomach pain, gas, cramps, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, headaches, irritability, or nervousness.

The Gas Journal

Parents can help their children keep track of their tummy trouble symptoms, even if children cannot tell you or cannot pinpoint the exact symptoms, by using The Gas Journal. Journaling is a great way to identify habits that are causing digestive stress or record information to share with your health care professional.

Tummy Ache Symptoms and Causes in Children

A tummy ache can be a frustrating symptom to understand in small children. While it’s a common problem, there are a wide variety of potential causes. This infographic reviews many potential causes of stomach ache and offers pros and cons to potential remedies.