Signs That A Child’s Stomachache Could Be Something Serious
Stomachaches are incredibly common in children. Most of the time they are nothing serious at all. Most are just from a mild stomach bug, or some constipation, or hunger or are a childs way of getting out of something they dont want to do. But a stomach pain can sometimes be a sign of a more serious problem.
Stomach Pain On The Left Side Of The Abdomen
If your child is complaining about pain on the left side of their stomach, it could be caused by something as simple as constipation to a more severe condition like pancreatitis. Dr. Mehta reminds parents not to panic just because their child is experiencing pain.
“Most of the time, stomach pain on the left side is caused by something mild, like constipation. Rarely, it can be a sign of something more serious,” she says. “Your child’s pediatrician can work with you to better understand the pain and symptoms your child experiences to ensure they receive an accurate diagnosis and more importantly, find relief.”
Ayurvedic Medicines Which Could Be Of Help:
- Hingwashtak Churna: 1 teaspoon could be added with ghee when having rice. Aids in better digestion and addresses bloatedness.
- Amrita Bindu: To be taken on an empty stomach with 4-5 drops added to water.
- Amlapittari Vati: A proprietary medicine used for hyperacidity.
- Pachani Rasayana: Helps in strengthening digestion.
- Ajamoda Arka: To be taken every morning with 4-5 drops added to lukewarm water.
- Kumaryasava: Improves functioning of the liver. If the problem persists, a doctor should be consulted without delay. Deworming the child every six months could also be immensely helpful in strengthening their digestive system.
Other precautions to keep in mind:
- Dont drink water immediately before or half hour after eating food. This dilutes the digestive fire or agni.
- Ask kids to not hold their bladder for a long time as it can lead to gastric problem.
- Give kids more of bland food, soup and freshly cooked vegetables.
- Avoid junk and fried food. When eating outside, ensure the place has proper hygiene and water is purified.
- Encourage children to play more of outdoor games. This will improve their metabolism, make the child hungry and help improve the appetite.
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Treating Symptoms Of Your Child’s Stomachache
- Have the child lie down and rest.
- Don’t give the child fluids for about 2 hours after the last vomiting episode. Then give the child clear fluids such as water or flat soda. Start with just a sip at a time.
- Keep a container nearby in case the child vomits.
- If the child vomits more than once, watch for signs of dehydration, such as decreased urination or dry diapers, dry lips, and crying without tears.
- If you think the child could be constipated, put them on the toilet. Passing a stool may ease the pain.
- Sit the child in warm water to help release a stool if you think the child is constipated.
Home Treatment For Stomach Pain
So how long does stomach pain normally last? Well, that all depends on the cause. With harmless causes, the pain is usually better or gone in about two hours. Either that or youll see new symptoms, like the vomiting, the diarrhea, usually theyll pass gas if its from gas pains, things like that. What if they have stomach pain from indigestion? Well the first thing they should do is just lie down. Quite often lying down and not focusing so much on the belly pain does make it better. You can give them belly rubs, you can have a warm washcloth or a heating pad on their stomach and that will make them feel better, too.
Avoid giving your child any solid foods and allow only sips of clear fluids if theyre vomiting. If they continue to try and eat normally, the vomiting will continue and their stomach pain will get worse. If your child hasnt gone to the bathroom for a little while, have them go sit on the toilet and see if having a bowel movement will help with their belly pain.
And finally, we usually dont recommend giving any medication for stomach cramps unless you know the cause. Obviously if its because of constipation and this is a chronic problem, give them their constipation medication. But if you dont know what the cause is, dont give your child Tylenol or Motrin to help the stomach pain. Try and figure out with your pediatrician what the cause of the stomach pain is so that you can help them if this happens again.
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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
âIndigestion may be the cause, if your child complains about pain in their upper belly, especially if it happens after eating certain foods,â 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.
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How Do You Treat A Child’s Stomach Virus
The best ways to treat the stomach flu in kids are hydration and rest. “For hydration, use a rehydration solution that’s available in any store and over the counter,” says Dr. Rojas. “Start with small sips and increase gradually, so they don’t vomit it up.”
Water alone may not be enough to rehydrate kids safely, especially younger children. Kids lose electrolytes when they vomit or have diarrhea. This can lead to low sodium in the blood, a dangerous situation. A rehydration solution, like Pedialyte, replenishes fluids and electrolytes. Broth can also be helpful.
You can also make a rehydration solution at home by combining 4 ¼ cups of water, 6 teaspoons of sugar and a ½ teaspoon of salt.
Dr. Rojas also recommends lots of rest for children. Rest can help the digestive system settle and heal.
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When Not To Worry
- Persistent vomiting if the vomiting seems like its going on forever, you need to assess your child for dehydration. If he is only mildly or maybe moderately dehydrated, this generally can wait until morning to contact your doctor.
- Dehydration keep in mind most kids will become mildly dehydrated during a vomiting illness. Mild dehydration is not serious and often does not warrant an urgent call to your doctor.
- Vomiting comes back It is common for kids to get better for a day or two, and then begin throwing up again. This is generally okay. Assess which stage he seems to be in and treat it accordingly.
- Fever it is normal to have even high fevers for several days. If your child is throwing up without a fever, it may be a food poisoning or a coughing problem.
- Blood in vomit you may see bloody streaks in your childs vomit. Tiny tears in the throat cause this from the pressure of throwing up. It is generally not dangerous and should pass.
A Stomachache Worries Doctors When
1. The pain is severe. By severe, I mean that the child cannot be distracted from it and is crying or otherwise showing that they are extremely uncomfortable. Any severe pain warrants a trip to the doctor, whether its unrelenting or it comes and goes.
2. There is blood in the stool. Most of the time, we see blood in the stool with constipation, which is usually not serious and can be easily treated. But a bad stomachache with blood in the stool can be a sign of a serious infection, inflammatory bowel disease, or another intestinal problem. So, any time your child has a stomachache and blood in the stool, give your doctor a call to be on the safe side.
3. The child vomits blood. As with blood in the stool, this isnt always a sign of something serious. Children who have been vomiting a lot can sometimes vomit some blood, and children who have nosebleeds, or bleeding from a lost tooth or some other problem of the mouth, may vomit that blood back up. But as with blood in the stool, any stomach pain with vomiting blood requires a call to the doctor.
4. There is green vomit. Green vomit can be a sign of a blockage in the intestine. Sometimes people vomit some yellow-green material when they have vomited up everything else, but stomach pain and green vomit should never be ignored.
8. The child says it hurts to urinate. Sometimes a stomachache can be a sign of a urinary tract infection.
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How Do I Take Care Of A Child With Abdominal Pain
If you are taking care of a child with a sore tummy or abdominal pain:
- make sure that they rest
- it’s very important that they drink enough clear fluids encourage them to take small sips often
- if they dont want to eat, dont push them
- if they are hungry, give them bland food, such as crackers, bananas, or toast
- if simple pain relief is needed, paracetamol is usually the recommended pain relief medicine
- sitting on the toilet may help them do a poo, which may improve the pain
- distract them from the pain by reading a book, rubbing their tummy or with toys or quiet games
If a baby has abdominal pain, follow advice for pain management in babies. Burping the baby may help if the baby has wind.
If a baby is sick with gastroenteritis:
- breast fed babies should continue to be breastfed, but may need feeding more often
- oral rehydration solutions may be needed, as well as breast milk
- bottle fed babies may need their formula and oral rehydration solution
Recurring Stomach Pain In Children
Burning in upper abdomen that worsens after eatingWhen a mixture of food and acid flows back through a weak valve at the top of the stomach , it causes heartburn and a barfy taste in the back of the throat. Heartburn typically doesnt affect young kids, but becomes more common as puberty approaches, notes John Howard, a paediatric gastroenterologist and professor at the University of Western Ontario.
For occasional attacks, try a glass of milk or an antacid like Tums, but if they occur once a week or more, consult your doctor. Avoiding big meals, cutting out carbonated drinks and not lying down immediately after eating may also help. Rather than subjecting kids to invasive tests, Howard usually prescribes a medication to suppress stomach acid productionif it works within two or three days, that proves the problem is heartburn.
Cramps in lower abdomen During a period, theres a surge of prostaglandins which can trigger uncomfortable muscle spasms or cramps in the uterus.
So how do you help your daughter cope? Cramps respond marvellously to over-the-counter ibuprofen, says Issenman, adding that the medication blocks the action of prostaglandins. Many parents also seek natural remediesfrom boosting dairy intake before a periods due to giving herbs like black haw or cramp bark.
Under six months old diarrhea extreme fussiness
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Make Him Eat Yoghurt And Other Probiotic Foods
Probiotic foods are also known to help soothe stomach pain. For example, yoghurt, which has probiotics in it, can provide relief from diarrhoea and cramps. Yoghurt is also full of good bacteria which compensates for the loss of microbes in the gut. Fenugreek seeds also help treat stomach pain in toddlers. Grind a handful of fenugreek seeds, add in the yoghurt, and give it to your child if he has stomach pain. Instead of giving any heavy foods, give him khichdi or plain rice. Khichdi is light on the tummy and will soothe your childs upset tummy.
Infectious Gastroenteritis In Children
Gastroenteritis can spread quickly. Infectious gastroenteritis is caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites. It is usually ingested through food or drink. Some of the common types of infectious gastroenteritis include:
- Escherichia coli infection
Children may not have all symptoms, but in general, gastroenteritis symptoms can include:
- loss of appetite
- bloody stools in some cases
- pus in stools in some cases
- generally feeling unwell including lethargy and body aches.
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They Keep Complaining About A Stomachache
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.
When To See A Professional
So when should you call your child’s health care provider? Call immediately if the pain is severe and has lasted more than an hour or its constant and has lasted more than two hours. Or if you are worried about appendicitis or if the pain actually extends into the scrotum or testicles of boys. You may be advised to go to the children’s emergency room for further testing that may not be able to be done in your doctor’s office to evaluate for those serious causes that may need a surgeon.
So abdominal pain is something that again, we see very often and there are so many things that could cause it. By working with your child’s doctor, you can figure out what the cause of the pain is and a plan to help your child.
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What Is Pediatric Constipation
When a child is constipated, a stool stays in their colon for too long. When this happens, the colon absorbs the fluid from the stool, which hardens the stool and makes it difficult to pass.
Children with constipation often experience:
- Bowel movements with dry, hard or small stools
- Less than two bowel movements in a week
How To Stop The Vomiting
Theres no single surefire way to halt puking in its tracks. The sad-but-true reality: The best course of action is usually to simply let an illness run its course.
In fact, though it might be tempting to reach for medication for a vomiting child, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using any over-the-counter or prescription anti-vomiting drugs in kids .
Using antibiotics to treat throwing up is especially discouraged, as many stomach illnesses are caused by viruses, not bacteria.
Typically, the more important goal is to make sure your child stays hydrated throughout their bout of sickness. As they lose fluids through throwing up, giving them plenty to drink is your best bet.
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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.
Ingestion Of A Foreign Body
Young children frequently put things in their mouths and end up swallowing them. Most foreign bodies that reach the gastrointestinal tract will pass out of the body without any help. A minority of objects will cause problems.
Button batteries and magnets can cause serious and life-threatening complications. If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery or magnet, go to the nearest hospital emergency department or ring the Poisons Information Centre 13 11 26.
Symptoms of having ingested a foreign body include drooling, loss of appetite, noisy breathing or coughing, vomiting, abdominal pain and dark bowel motions.
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What Can I Give My Child For Stomach Pain
Stomach pain usually resolves itself after your child:
- Passes gas
- Recovers from a stomach virus
Theres no specific treatment for an upset stomach, but you can help relieve your childs symptoms. Trusted home remedies for stomach pain in kids include:
- Offering plenty of clear liquids to keep your child hydrated
- Offering ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain
- Using a heating pad to ease cramps and pain
- Offering a bland diet, like crackers and soups
- Giving your child stool softeners, like MiraLAX® to ease constipation
- Mixing a probiotic in your childs water, which may help stop diarrhea
How Can I Help My Child Explain Their Pain Symptoms
Young children and babies may not be able to tell an adult where they feel the pain, or what it feels like. When trying to work out your childs symptoms, it can help to ask simple questions, such as:
- Can you point to where it hurts?
- Did you wake up with the pain?
- When did you go to the toilet last?
Try not to ask leading questions or transmit your anxiety to them.
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