Headaches and Stomachaches - FamilyEducation

Expert Advice

Headaches and Stomachaches

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q
My daughter has headaches and her stomach aches a lot. What is happening? Is something the matter with her? Yes or no?
A
The limited information you have provided makes it difficult to individualize my answer to your child. I don't even know her age, how long these complaints have been around, what they're associated with, how debilitating they are, her past medical history, and other important bits of information. I am assuming these head and stomach pains are not associated with an injury or a specific disease.

Recurrent pains in children are very common, with the head and belly being two of the more common sites. The pains often happen and then resolve until the next time. A search for a cause often comes up empty. Although the aches are real, frequently an organic cause just can't be identified. This can be particularly frustrating to the patient, family, and even the physician. If an organic cause can't be clearly identified, then psychological or environmental issues should be considered.

I would recommend that you touch base with her physician, filling in the details. A careful history and physical exam can be an important first step in helping to resolve these complaints without overdoing the evaluation or treatment.

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.

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