Unfortunately, there is no permanent medical treatment or cure for functional abdominal pain. In summary, the different options are:
- Medicines: The drugs normally used in the treatment of pain (analgesics), such as paracetamol or anti-inflammatories, are not generally useful, and unless directed by your paediatrician, should not be used due to their side effects.
- Probiotics: Your paediatrician may recommend probiotics to try to relieve symptoms. There is a considerable amount of studies investigating the effect of probiotics for the treatment of RAP in children, but the results are mixed: some conclude that they are useful and others that they are not. The problem is that they are very dissimilar studies in terms of design: different strains of probiotics, different doses and for different periods. Thus, with current knowledge, it is difficult to prescribe the appropriate probiotic, at the appropriate dosage and for the appropriate time.
- Diet: As for diet, there is no diet that has been proven effective in RAP in children. Children with RAP are advised to follow a varied and balanced diet. If a particular food is identified as a trigger for symptoms (lactose, pulses, sugars, etc.), its consumption can be reduced or eliminated, always in accordance with the doctor’s opinion. In adults with irritable bowel syndrome, there is increasing evidence of the effectiveness of a diet low in FODMAPs. FODMAPs are dietary sugars that are fermented in the gut and are responsible for the abdominal discomfort and wind. There is little experience with this diet in children, but it is probably also useful in some selected cases, always under medical and dietary supervision as it is very restrictive. In some children, it is enough to simply reduce the consumption of sugars from packaged juices, pastries, snacks and breakfast cereals in order to decrease the severity and frequency of pain.