Dr Bernadette Carr gives her advice on what to do if you have concerns about a child with stomach pain and what to do if your eyes get bloodshot and tear up after using a computer.
Q. I am worried about my eight-year-old daughter who has been complaining of stomach pain over the last few weeks.
The timing varies and as she loves school, I don’t think it is related to not wanting to go.
Should I wait to see if this continues or bring her to the GP?
A. Stomach pain in children can occur for a number of reasons.
If your child is well, eating, drinking, and attending school it may be related to something simple such as constipation, a particularly common cause of stomach pain in children.
A lack of fibre in the diet or not drinking enough water during the day can be a common cause of infrequent passage of hard stool. This can cause tummy pain after eating or cramps in the tummy or pain passing stool.
If your daughter is not passing a regular soft bowel motion this may be the cause of the tummy pain and it can be a good idea to encourage her to eat wholegrain foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables, as well as drinking plenty of water. Juices such as orange juice can help to relieve constipation also.
It is important that your daughter knows to go to the toilet when she feels she needs to because sometimes “holding on” to stool can prevent regular bowel motions and lead to a build up of stool which causes cramping abdominal pain. Wind can sometimes also cause tummy pain in children, which usually passes quickly.
If these measures do not help to relieve the stomach pain, your GP may suggest an alternative cause.
Urinary tract infections can present with tummy pain, however, this will more commonly be associated with pain on passing urine or burning or stinging as well as needing to pass urine more frequently. Abdominal migraine can sometimes occur in children with intense bouts of tummy pain that occur sporadically.
Weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever or severe pain or pain that does not resolve within 24 hours are all reasons to call the doctor.
Q. My eyes are very sensitive. After just a few hours in front of a computer they get bloodshot and then tear up when I am outside.
Should I be using drops or will these diminish the strength of my eyes over time.
I would really like bright, white eyes.
A. Eye strain can happen very commonly especially in people who use computers for long periods due to staring at the screen, this can also happen from doing a lot of reading or writing especially using an electronic screen.
Eyes can become tired, and irritated as well as being more dry and sensitive.
These symptoms can be exacerbated with changes in the weather or environment due to air conditioning reducing the tear film on the outside of the eye.
If you are tired or have not got enough sleep these symptoms may be magnified.
There are a number of simple things you can do to reduce eye strain especially if it is associated with computer use.
It is important to take breaks from staring at the screen and try to focus on different points farther away from the eye.
A good rule is to take a break from looking at your computer screen every 20 minutes and focus at a point farther away from the screen.
It is important not to stare at the computer screen for longer than this time to avoid eye strain.
It can sometimes be difficult to blink at an adequate frequency when using an electronic screen which will exacerbate symptoms of irritation and dryness.
Lubricating eye drops can be bought over the counter in pharmacies in the form of artificial tears.
These are harmless and mimic the eye’s natural lubrication and can be very useful in relieving symptoms of eye fatigue.
These may be particularly relevant for contact lenses wearers who may be particularly prone to developing symptoms of dry eyes when staring at a computer for long periods or spending time in air conditioned environments.
Lubricating eye drops will have no effect on the strength of your eyes over time.
Taking care of your eyes and ensuring proper lighting when reading is extremely important in ensuring your eyes do not get fatigued or irritated.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved