Coast doctor helps ease tummy troubles in kids

Gulfport “tummy” doctor makes children feel better

Gulfport's "tummy doctor" working to improve quality of life for children

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Most of us experience stomach issues at one time or another, but doctors are seeing more cases of chronic conditions than ever before.

And that goes for our children too. Every parent knows that when your child suffers, parents suffer too. It’s difficult to see them in pain and even more difficult when you don’t know what’s causing that pain.

Fifteen year old Gracie Wilcox had been in and out of doctor’s offices for several weeks after having abdominal pain and other symptoms that weren’t going away. She ended up seeing Dr. April Ulmer, known as the “tummy doctor”.

Dr. Ulmer is one of only a handful of pediatric gastroenterologists in Mississippi. As a mother herself, Dr. Ulmer says she understands the fear of uncertainty.

“It’s always nerve wracking for families when a child is suffering, so it’s our job to figure out what it is and get them on the right treatment path,” she explained.

Gracie ended up having a scope procedure at Gulf Coast Outpatient Surgery in Biloxi.

“By the time they see a specialist, it’s time for more detailed tests. And if the parent is concerned, then we’re usually concerned.”

And that concern is what brought Gracie’s mom, Barbie Wilcox, to Dr. Ulmer in the first place.

Barbie says, “She was not able to eat much: very full after a few bites, heavy pain, and discomfort. And as time went on, the problems didn’t go away, and they got worse.”

Dr Ulmer offers comprehensive evaluation, diagnostics and therapy for infants, children and adolescents with disorders of the stomach, intestines, colon, liver and pancreas.

“Just because a child is having symptoms doesn’t mean what they have is catastrophic. So, we work with the families.”

The scope Gracie had is similar in technique to a colonoscopy and is designed to give doctors answers. And in this case, to hopefully get Gracie back to a normal, healthy, pain free life. Her mom says she’s missing out on a lot of her favorite activities.

“I hope she can get back to school work, cross country because this is affecting every aspect of her life.”

And Dr. Ulmer says that’s the goal. Once they’re able to diagnose the problem, then they work together to get it fixed.

“We usually have a tremendous ability to make a huge difference in the quality of life for children and their families, and I think parents appreciate that.”

If your child has recurring pain or other symptoms that affect daily life...it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor.

Dr. Ulmer’s Kids and Tummies office is located at 401 Cowan Road, Suite B, Gulfport. The phone number is 228-222-4072.

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