Monday, April 22, 2024

What To Do When Child Stomach Hurts

The Most Common Signs To Look For

Mayo Clinic Minute: What to do if your child has an upset stomach

Children younger than 8 may not be able to differentiate between stomach pain and the kind of pain that warrant urgent medical attention, Friesen said. I ask them to point to where the pain is worst, he said. If they point to the lower right, they may need to go to the ER for appendicitis. So if your childs pain persists, you should try to keep track of new and existing symptoms.

Some of the indicators that a childs stomachache might be serious include weight loss, fever, significant vomiting, severe diarrhea, blood in the stool or vomit, or pain in the upper right or lower right abdomen. If a child has any of these symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Can Stomachaches Be Prevented

Not all belly pain can be prevented. But to help avoid common types of stomachaches:

  • Wash your hands before eating or preparing food, and after using the bathroom.
  • Dont overeat, and try not to eat right before going to sleep.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to keep food moving through your digestive system.
  • Avoid foods that have passed their expiration date or or werent stored properly.
  • If you have a food allergy or intolerance, avoid eating foods that make you sick. If you have a food allergy, always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors, and know when you should use them.

Its A Recurring Stomachache

Have you noticed that your child keeps having the same stomachache? Maybe it comes up every few days or every other day, but if you notice the same symptoms are recurring, it could be a warning sign thats something wrong, even if the symptoms seem mild. Poston says that any stomachache that sticks around, especially for a week, needs a doctors attention. Recurring stomachaches can be due to constipation, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel diseases, food intolerances, acid reflux, urinary tract infections, or a myriad of other causes, she says. If the child is pale, febrile, unable to eat or drink, is excessively tired, or has lost weight, a doctors visit is a good idea.

But these recurring stomachaches can be hard to sort out. Poston suggests keeping a diary of symptoms, including the time of day, the foods eaten, any stressors or behaviors, and the last bowel movement your child had. This information combined with a parents observations are more likely to lead to an accurate diagnosis.

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When Should I Seek Immediate Care

  • Your child’s abdominal pain gets worse and spreads to his or her back.
  • Your child’s bowel movement has a large amount of blood in it, or looks like black tar.
  • Your child cannot stop vomiting, or vomits blood.
  • Your child has diarrhea for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Your child has trouble breathing, and his or her skin looks pale.
  • Your child’s pain wakes him or her during the night.
  • Your child has trouble swallowing, or pain when he or she swallows.

How Long Does Stomach Pain From Antibiotics Last

baby in stomach pain

The pain can last for a few days and rarely for the entire period while taking antibiotics. In case the pain is mild, follow the below measures to cure a stomach ache. If you have severe pain, stop taking the dose and get instant help from your gastroenterologist.

To reduce the side effects of antibiotics and stop stomach pain and other symptoms, its essential to keep your good bacteria safe. Here are some yummy food items that can help you counter stomach problems after antibiotics.

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What Can Cause Stomach Pain In A Child

The most common causes of stomach pain in children include:

Additional stomach pain symptoms can vary based on what’s causing your child’s stomach to hurt, but may include cramping, diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea or vomiting. One of the most important symptoms to note is where your child is feeling pain in their stomach.

“One of the first questions we ask children is where their stomach hurts,” explains Dr. Mehta. “Location of the pain can help physicians determine what is causing the pain, in addition to other characteristics such as severity of pain, when it occurs, what makes it better or worse and accompanying symptoms.”

General Abdominal Pain With Bloating

Possible explanation: irritable bowel syndrome

What is it: As a syndrome, IBS refers to a group of symptoms that have been identified in addition to abdominal pain and bloating, many people also experience changes in bowel habits like constipation and diarrhea. It is not well known what causes IBS, but it may be related to genetics, food sensitivity, stress, or an infection.

Treatment: There is no cure for IBS at this time, so treatment revolves around managing whatever symptoms are present. Medications to treat diarrhea and constipation can be supplemented by some changes to diet one highly recommended regimen is a low-FODMAP diet, which refers to foods that contain certain fermentable components.

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Should I See A Doctor If I Get Stomach Pains When I Am Stressed

You should be seeing your primary care physician at least once a year, and you should tell them if you often have stomach pain or GI discomfort.

If your primary care physician identifies symptoms of a chronic GI condition or other warning signs, they may refer you to a gastroenterologist like myself. A gastroenterologist can help determine if your stomach pain or GI symptoms are related to stress, or due to another condition that requires different treatment.

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Should You Keep Her Home

Abdominal Pain in Children | Riley Children’s Health

If your child comes down with an achy stomach just before school , think twice before letting her stay home, advises Dr. Richard Gilchrist. Kids often get stomach pain from a stressor like a big test or a bully, he says you’re better off teaching her simple slow-breathing techniques to calm her nerves, or promise you’ll speak to her teacher and send her on her way. Even kids with known GI diseases shouldn’t stay home unless their symptoms are severe, he says. “By using guidelines developed with your child’s physician and spelled out in advance, you’ll avoid repeat battles.” Plus, at school she’ll be able to distract herself more easily when she’s keeping busy and among friends.

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Stomach Pain In The Upper Abdomen

If your child is complaining about pain in their upper abdomen, they may be experiencing indigestion. Telltale signs of indigestion include:

  • Pain in the middle of the upper belly
  • Nausea
  • Burping
  • Heartburn

“Indigestion may be the cause, if your child complains about pain in their upper belly, especially if it happens after eating certain foods,” says Dr. Mehta.

If your child has pain in the upper right side of their abdomen, this could also be a sign of gallstones. Gallstones are more common in adults than in children, but some children may be more at risk for developing gallstones including children with obesity, children with certain health conditions including sickle cell disease, and children with a family history of gallstone disease.

Of The Many Potential Causes Of Abdominal Pain In Children The Most Common Include:


This is a general term that describes discomfort in children’s upper abdomen. Common symptoms include pain or burning in the area between the breastbone and navel or bloating in the upper abdomen. Most of the time, indigestion will go away on its own and is not considered serious. Prepare smaller meals and try a bland diet. Talk with their health care provider if the discomfort persists.

Viral gastroenteritis

This is an infection marked by watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, and nausea or vomiting. Seek medical attention if your child has a fever of 100.4 F or higher, bloody diarrhea, or has significant pain or discomfort. Most important is to stay well-hydrated.


Constipated children have infrequent bowel movements or hard, dry stools. They may frequently complain of a stomachache, bloating or discomfort. Talk with their primary care provider if they don’t want to eat, are losing weight, have bloody stools or are having repeated episodes of constipation.

Stress or anxiety

When children are stressed or anxious, their bodies release the hormone cortisol into the blood. This can trigger abdominal cramps and discomfort.


Intestinal obstruction

With any abdominal pain, seek urgent medical attention if children have:

  • Pain so severe that they can’t move without causing more pain
  • Difficulty sitting sit or finding a comfortable position
  • Fever
  • Severe tenderness when the abdomen is touched
  • Swelling of the abdomen
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How Is Abdominal Pain Treated In Babies And Children

Often no specific treatment is necessary, other than home care . However, some treatments that may be needed include:

  • oral rehydration solution or intravenous fluids
  • pain relief usually paracetamol at the recommended dose for age and weight
  • an operation

Antibiotics are not normally recommended for gastroenteritis, as most infections will be due to a virus.

Stomach Pain Around The Belly Button

Recurrent Abdominal Pain In Children

Stomach pain around or near a child’s belly button is usually nothing to worry about. It’s one of the most common stomach pain complaints among kids.

“Children often rub their bellies when they hurt and complain about general pain around the belly button,” says Dr. Mehta. “This type of stomach pain is typically caused by stress or eating something that didn’t quite agree with them.”

If your child is complaining about stomach pain near the belly button, you can:

  • Encourage them to lay down and rest
  • Check to see if they need to poop
  • Offer a glass of water
  • Try distracting them by reading a book together or playing a quiet game

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Causes Of Recurrent Stomach Pains

  • Stress or Worries. The most common cause of frequent stomach pains is stress. Over 10% of children have a “worried stomach.” These children tend to be sensitive and too serious. They often are model children. This can make them more at risk to the normal stresses of life. Examples of these events are changing schools, moving or family fights. The pain is in the pit of the stomach or near the belly button. The pain is real.
  • Abdominal Migraine. Attacks of stomach pain and vomiting with sudden onset and offset. Often occur in children who later develop migraine headaches. Strongly genetic.
  • Functional Abdominal Pains. Functional means the stomach pains are due to a sensitive GI tract. The GI tract is free of any disease.
  • School Avoidance. Stomach pains that mainly occur in the morning on school days. They keep the child from going to school.

Common Causes For Stomach Pain

So abdominal pain is something we see very often and there’s a whole bunch of reasons why kids can have abdominal pain. They can have abdominal pain because they’re overeating we see that a lot usually around holidays, like Halloween, they eat too much candy. Christmas, they eat too much of the good yummy stuff that we see around the holidays. They can also have gas pains if they’re drinking too much soda. They can have indigestion from spicy foods. For example, I see a lot of kids that eat hot Cheetos and then they come in and tell me that their stomach hurts. The hot Cheetos are the cause of that stomachache.

Quite often as well, I see kids coming in for stomachaches because of constipation. They’ll say their stomach hurts around their belly button and then when you start asking questions about their bowel movements, it turns out they haven’t gone for awhile or when they go, it’s hard to get out. So ask your child if they have a stomachache, if they’ve pooped recently.

We are also seeing a stomach virus going around and a lot of kids will come in and say they have a stomachache, but they haven’t had the vomiting or diarrhea because the stomachache just started that day and the parents are concerned. But the vomiting and diarrhea start within 24 hours of the stomachache.

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The Gut As The Second Brain

The stomach often reflects emotions, so much so that Columbia Professor Dr. Michael Gershon coined a phrase for the stomach as the second brain. The stomach is home to the enteric nervous system, which holds hundreds of millions of nerve cells, CBSNews explains.

You probably have experienced this second brain in action when youre nervous and get the flittering feeling of butterflies in your stomach. Your child may be experiencing it when he or she is anxious and the belly is peppered with pain. Even if the nervousness or anxiety is all in your head, it can create a real sensation or pain in your abdominal area.

What Causes Anxiety In A Child

Why do we get abdominal pain and what can we do about it?

While most babies and young children have some feelings of separation anxiety, but it usually goes away. Likewise, if a child has separation anxiety as an older child, it usually doesnt last very long.

So, what causes this anxiety? There can be so many issues, and it can also be very simple. Anxiety can even be considered a learned behavior. If a parent worries, a child is more likely to worry, as well. Rule out the obvious things

Personally speaking, our children have all liked their teachers. In all of the years that theyve been in school, weve never had a teacher that they didnt like, so I knew that it wasnt an issue about the teacher. They liked their friends, so I knew that it wasnt their classmates, either.

Sometimes, our kids just miss us. The thought of being away from us for that long is hard for them. Separation anxiety can be as simple as that.

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Stomachache In Children: How To Know If It’s Serious

Most children experience abdominal pain from time to time. They may use terms like tummy ache, bellyache or stomachache to describe it.

As a parent, it can be hard to decide if your child’s abdominal pain is normal or the sign of something more serious. Indigestion or gastroenteritis? Anxious about something? Did they swallow a toy? Appendicitis? It can be difficult to know what to do.

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My older daughter, whos now 9, started getting regular stomachaches a few years ago, just before starting kindergarten. Her dad and I were confused and worried. Was it constipation? Food sensitivities? Kidney infection? A couple of trips to the pediatrician and a consultation with a child psychologist pinpointed the cause: anxiety. To this day, her stomach tends to act up a little when theres a significant change or stressor, such as when schools first shut down last spring due to COVID, but now we know how to help her.

Kids tummies can hurt anytime, but when pain becomes a chronic problem, it can be truly disruptive to their life and become the focus of your time together. Parents may worry that kids will have more stomachaches now due to the stress of an unpredictable school year, and since we know that nausea and vomiting can be signs of COVID, stomach troubles are more alarming for parents than ever.

Doctors say they havent seen an increase in garden-variety stomachaches in young kids during the pandemic, possibly because children are staying at home more. But if your kid is regularly complaining of pain, you may need to play detective in order to suss out the cause, which could be one of three common culprits.

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What To Expect At Your Office Visit

Talk to the provider about the location of the pain and its time pattern. Let the provider know if there are other symptoms like fever, fatigue, general ill feeling, change in behavior, nausea, vomiting, or changes in stool.

Your provider may ask the questions about the abdominal pain:

  • What part of the stomach hurts? All over? Lower or upper? Right, left, or middle? Around the navel?
  • Is the pain sharp or cramping, constant or comes and goes, or changes in intensity over minutes?
  • Does the pain wake your child up at night?
  • Has your child had similar pain in the past? How long has each episode lasted? How often has it occurred?
  • Is the pain getting more severe?
  • Does the pain get worse after eating or drinking? After eating greasy foods, milk products, or carbonated drinks? Has your child started eating something new?
  • Does the pain get better after eating or having a bowel movement?
  • Does the pain get worse after stress?
  • Has there been a recent injury?
  • What other symptoms are occurring at the same time?

During the physical examination, the provider will test to see if the pain is in a single area or whether it is spread out.

They may do some tests to check on the cause of the pain. The tests may include:

  • Blood, urine, and stool tests
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen
  • X-rays of the abdomen

Stomach pain in children Pain – abdomen – children Abdominal cramps in children Belly ache in children

They Keep Complaining About A Stomachache

5 Causes of Abdominal Pain in Children: Smita Tandon, MD ...

If your child is complaining about their stomach pain more than they usually would complain about something, that could be an indication that the pain is severe. See if you can distract them from what theyre feeling if their favorite movie or game doesnt take their mind off of it, thats probably because its really bothering them.

Dr. Leann Poston of Invigor Medical, says, If the pain is severe and your child cannot be distracted from the pain, contact your doctor. If the pain is not as severe, consider the age of the child. Children who cannot express their pain well warrant a call to a physician more quickly than those who can describe where the pain is located and what it feels like and thus provide reassurance.

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