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Teens and Stomach Problems

Stomach problems plague many teens and may be caused by any number of factors. These problems can range from mildly irritating to disabling, and may signify an underlying disease or illness that is not readily apparent. Stomach issues may impact teens’ daily lives, making study or play difficult, and preventing them from interacting fully with friends or family. Over-the-counter drugs may help to ease the symptoms of these problems, but could fail to address underlying causes. Many stomach problems in teens typically take the form of:

  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Digestion Issues

Many teens can avoid these problems by eating right and paying attention to the food and drinks they consume over the course of the day. Certain foods may not agree with teens due to the chemical changes their bodies experience during adolescence. Eating too quickly or not properly chewing food may also cause intermittent digestion issues. Speaking with a doctor or your family’s healthcare provider may help to narrow down the food choices that cause digestive problems.

Discussing Stomach Problems

Parents should talk with their teens about stomach issues if they notice strange eating habits or apparent symptoms of stomach pains after eating. Teens may be reluctant at first to discuss potentially embarrassing problems related to their digestion or bodily functions, but an open dialogue can allow parents to work with the teen to make adjustments to their lifestyle or eating choices. Many teens may experience these problems due to simple behavioral choices such as eating too fast or poor nutritional intake, but the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse advises parents to contact a doctor immediately if symptoms persist for two or more weeks. Infrequent eating or nausea after eating may be a sign of other underlying problems, such as bulimia and anorexia. These typically require intervention by a healthcare provider, as they may arise from mental, physical or even psychological sources and should not be taken lightly.

Severity and Potential Complications

Extended symptoms may be a sign of chronic stomach disease in teens. The severity of these issues may range from minor to life-threatening. Some over-the-counter medications may help to alleviate the symptoms of minor stomach problems. Many diseases related to stomach trouble are caused by germs, such as H. pylori, which can cause peptic ulcers, particularly in female teens according to the NDDIC.  Problems that are easily managed with occasional medicines, such as heartburn or indigestion reducers, may not require a trip to the doctor. Those that persist for a long time or otherwise interfere with daily life, however, typically signify a much more severe problem that may lead to complications. Complications arising from stomach problems may include irritability, a substantial loss of weight and continual abdominal pain.

Long-Term Effects

Stomach issues are not uncommon in teens and most sufferers can overcome the symptoms and trouble associated with these problems with over-the-counter medications and careful attention to food choices. The long-term effects suffered by those who have more severe stomach problems, such as gastrointestinal reflux disease or peptic ulcers, may be managed with diet and prescription medication. These effects, especially those that arise from a lack of timely treatment, may continue to interfere with daily life for years. As a result, it’s important to seek help from your physician or healthcare provider in a timely manner.

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