Abdominal pain is an issue that often occurs among children. It is one of the reasons parents bring their children to a doctor or emergency department. The pain might be difficult to diagnose.
Many children with abdominal pain eventually get better in hours or days without special treatment and there is no cause often found. Oftentimes, the cause might be more evident over time and treatment can be started. If the pain or other issues persist, a doctor must be consulted.
What are the causes of abdominal pain?
There are various health issues that can trigger abdominal pain among children such as the following:
- Digestive issues – colic, constipation or irritable bowel syndrome
- Infections – gastroenteritis, bladder or kidney infections or infections in other parts of the body
- Food-related issues – food poisoning, excessive eating or food allergies
- Issues outside the abdomen – migraine or muscle strain
- Surgical issues – bowel obstruction, appendicitis or intussusception
- Menstrual pain
- Poisoning – from spider bites, smoking or eating toxic substances
The treatment of the child is based on the cause of the pain. The treatment might be simple as adequate rest, increased intake of fluids and a bland diet. In some cases, other treatment options might include hospitalization and surgery.
Generally, there are measures that can help manage abdominal pain such as:
- Ensure that the child gets enough rest
- Provide the child with plenty of clear fluids such as juice of cooled boiled water
- Do not force the child to eat if he/she feels sick
- In case the child is hungry, provide bland foods such as rice, crackers, toast or bananas.
- Place a hot water bottle or wheat bag on the tummy of the child or run a warm bath.
- Provide the child with paracetamol if the child is in pain or miserable. Make sure that the right dosage is given to the child.
When to seek medical care
The child should be taken to the emergency department right away if the child has the following:
- Fever or chills
- Severe or intensifying pain or discomfort that changes with position
- Individual becomes pale, sweaty and sick
- Refusal to eat or drink
- Vomiting for more than 24 hours
- Blood-streaked vomit or stool
- Skin rash accompanied by pain
- Issues when passing urine or producing less than 4 soiled diapers in a day