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.
There Is Blood In Their Stool & They Have A Stomachache
As unpleasant as it may be, you should take a look at your childs stool if they have a stomachache to check for blood. Poston says, Blood in the stool, like blood in vomit, can range from serious to innocent. If a child is constipated, pushing the stool out of the rectum may cause a small amount of blood on the outside of the stool.
She adds, If the blood is more than a streak, is mixed with the stool, or the stool has a black, tarry appearance to it, these may be signs of a more serious cause of bleeding such as an infection or inflammation in the bowel. In that case, definitely call a doctor.
How Is The Cause Of Abdominal Pain In Children Diagnosed
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child and check his or her abdomen. He or she will want you or your child to describe where the pain is and when it started. The provider may ask if the pain wakes your child or stops him or her from doing daily activities. Describe anything that seems to make the pain better or worse. Your child may need any of the following:
- A smiley face scale may be shown to your child. A smiling face is no pain, and a sad face with tears is very bad pain. Your child may be asked to point to the face that matches what he or she feels.
- Blood, urine, or bowel movement samples may be tested for signs of an infection, disease, or injury.
- X-ray pictures of your child’s abdomen may show an injury or other cause of the pain.
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The Stomach Pain Is In Their Lower Right Side
Its important to find out where the pain is coming from, as pain in certain spots can be a sign of a more serious problem. Dr. Sylvia Owusu-Ansah, associate professor of pediatrics and medical director of UPMC Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh, tells Romper;that if the pain is in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen, especially if its tender to the touch, you should be on the alert. That may signify something such as appendicitis, or in females, ovarian torsion, where the ovary rotates on itself and cuts off the blood supply, she says.
How Can I Help Manage My Child’s Chronic Abdominal Pain
- Apply heat on your child’s abdomen for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- Make changes to the foods you give to your child, if needed:
- Give your child more fiber if he or she has constipation. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, and legumes.
- Do not give your child foods that cause gas. , Examples include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and carbonated drinks.
- Do not give your child foods or drinks that contain sorbitol or fructose if he or she has diarrhea and bloating. Some examples are fruit juices, candy, jelly, and sugar-free gum. Do not give him or her high-fat foods, such as fried foods, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and desserts.
- Have your child drink more liquid and eat small meals more often. This may help decrease his or her abdominal pain. Ask your child’s healthcare provider how much liquid your child should have and which liquids are best for him or her. The provider may recommend an oral rehydration solution . An ORS contains electrolytes that will help your child’s digestive system.
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They Are Very Young With A Stomachache
When it comes to babies who cant verbalize their pain, its hard to know when they have a stomachache, let alone how serious the pain is. Poston says, Vomiting and diarrhea in a baby less than 3 months old needs to be evaluated as soon as possible. Any fever in a baby under 3 months old does as well.
Symptoms Related To Stomach Pain
The symptoms that come with stomach pain vary depending on whats causing the stomach pain.
Cramps and general pain might be associated with excess wind and bloating.
Tummy pain that doesnt go away could be constipation or a urinary tract infection. Children with a urinary tract infection, might also have pain when doing a wee, be doing more wees than normal, and might have a fever, be vomiting and feel irritable.
A sore tummy is more likely to be a sign of something serious if it wakes your child up, or if the pain is in a specific area of the abdomen, away from your childs belly button. For example, in;appendicitis, the pain is usually sharp, and the pain often starts in the middle then moves to the lower right section of the abdomen. Your child might also have fever, loss of appetite and vomiting.
With all types of stomach pain, theres a risk that your child will become;dehydrated. You should watch for signs of dehydration, including sunken eyes, less wee than usual, lethargy and weight loss. If your child shows these signs, make sure they’re drinking enough fluids.
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They Have A Fever & Stomach Pain
Kids get fevers. It happens! A fever is the bodys way of reacting to an infection or pain, and can be relatively harmless. Still, that doesnt mean you should ignore it, especially if it comes along with severe abdominal pain. Owusu-Ansah says, Children with abdominal pain with fever should be checked out for any type of abdominal infection or kidney/urinary infections in the genital area. Upper abdominal pain with fever and cough can be a sign of lower lung lobe pneumonia with referred pain to the stomach. Abdominal pain with fever should be attended to and evaluated by a physician.
If you notice that your child has a fever, stomach pain, increased sleepiness, and blood in their stool, call your doctor Owusu-Ansah says this could be a sign of infection or even low blood pressure or blood loss.
When To Contact A Medical Professional
Seek medical help right away or call your local emergency number if your child:
- Is a baby younger than 3 months and has diarrhea or vomiting
- Is currently being treated for cancer
- Is unable to pass stool, especially if the child is also vomiting
- Is vomiting blood or has blood in the stool
- Has sudden, sharp abdominal pain
- Has a rigid, hard belly
- Has had a recent injury to the abdomen
- Is having trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain that lasts 1 week or longer, even if it comes and goes.
- Abdominal pain that does not improve in 24 hours. Call if it is getting more severe and frequent, or if your child is nauseous and vomiting with it.
- A burning sensation during urination.
- Diarrhea for more than 2 days.
- Vomiting for more than 12 hours.
- Fever over 100.4Â°F .
- Poor appetite for more than 2 days.
- Unexplained weight loss.
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Diagnosis Of Abdominal Pain In Children
When a problem is quite obvious, no tests are needed. If tests are needed, they may include:
- blood tests
- other special tests
- review by a specialist doctor.
If your child does undergo tests, the doctor should explain the results to you. Some results may take a number of days to come back and these results will be sent to your local doctor.
How Is The Cause Of Chronic Abdominal Pain Diagnosed
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your family history of abdominal pain or problems. Tell him or her if your child takes any medicines, and how well he or she eats and sleeps. Tell him or her if your child has any other health problems or has missed activities because of his or her pain. Tell him or her if your child has been stressed or worried lately. The provider will examine your child, and may have your child rate his or her pain using a pain scale. Your child may also need any of the following:
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Causes Of Abdominal Pain In Children
There are many health problems that can cause stomach pain for children, including:
- bowel problems constipation, colic or irritable bowel
- infections gastroenteritis, kidney or bladder infections, or infections in other parts of the body like the ear or chest
- food-related problems too much food, food poisoning or food allergies
- problems outside the abdomen muscle strain or migraine
- surgical problems appendicitis, bowel obstruction or intussusception
- period pain some girls can have pain before their periods start
- poisoning such as spider bites, eating soap or smoking.
Physical Exam And Investigations
a) physical exam
ABCs; vitals; and growth parameters .
- Inspection: look for contour, symmetry, pulsations, peristalsis, vascular irregularities, skin markings, wall protrusions , any signs of trauma , and abdominal distension
- Auscultation: auscultate before palpation in the abdominal exam, listen for bowel sounds, abdominal bruits, pressure of the stethoscope also tests for tenderness
- Percussion: assess general tone , percuss for liver span and spleen tip, assess for ascites .
- Palpation: assess tenderness with light and deep palpation, assess for guarding and rebound tenderness, palpate for liver, spleen, kidney and abdominal masses .
- Digital rectal exam: first exam the anus for fissures and skin tags, then assess for tone, stool, and blood
- Special Tests: there are a number of special tests for each differential diagnosis
table 4: findings on physical exam for common differential diagnoses
The differential diagnosis of abdominal pain is extensive making a concise approach sometimes difficult.
1.;;; Determine if abdominal pain is acute or chronic
2.;;; Is the abdomen acute/surgical or benign
3.;;; Are red flags present.
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How Will I Know If My Baby Has Abdominal Pain
Babies and very young children have trouble talking and saying what they feel. It may be hard to know if when he or she is in pain. Your baby may do the following when he or she has pain:
- Bite or squeeze his or her lips tightly
- Cry with a higher pitch, whimper, or groan
- Move around a lot to lie in a way that will not hurt or move his or her arms around
- Frown or squeeze his or her eyes shut tightly
- Pull his or her knees up to his or her chest
- Get upset when touched
- Sleep more or less than usual
- Touch, rub, or massage his or her abdomen
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 you’ll see new symptoms, like the vomiting, the diarrhea, usually they’ll pass gas if it’s 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 they’re vomiting. If they continue to try and eat normally, the vomiting will continue and their stomach pain will get worse. If your child hasn’t 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 don’t recommend giving any medication for stomach cramps unless you know the cause. Obviously if it’s because of constipation and this is a chronic problem, give them their constipation medication. But if you don’t know what the cause is, don’t 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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What Can I Give My Child For Stomach Pain
Stomach pain usually resolves itself after your child:
- Passes gas
- Recovers from a stomach virus
There’s no specific treatment for an upset stomach, but you can help relieve your child’s 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 child’s water, which may help stop diarrhea
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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Irritable Bowel Disease Celiac Disease And Ulcerative Colitis
kat43: My son is 14 and suffers from IBD. We have been seeing a gastroenterologist, but he does not seem to be getting better. What could we do next?
Dr__Wyneski: If he is not getting better, usually a second look to make sure the initial diagnosis was correct is in order. If confirmed, then looking at therapy would be next. The type of disease , as well as the location of the disease, play a role in choosing different therapy. Also, if it has been several years since diagnosis, sometimes repeating an endoscopy/colonoscopy may be needed to re-evaluate disease. Also, imaging with a CT scan or MRI may be used to help make an informed decision about changing to a new medication. There are many medications for IBD, and all those factors play a role in choosing the best medicine to treat the disease.
time_out: My daughter has celiac disease and it is really affecting her emotionally. Do you know of any support organizations I can look into? We are local in Cleveland.
Dr__Wyneski: I am checking into that. I know of a group called neohioceliac.com, and have had some people go to their meetings, but I am not sure about the pediatric portion of that. Also there is The Celiac Disease Foundation . Also, The Celiac Sprue Association . Here at CCF, we sometimes have patients with a disease speak to other patients with the same disease talk/call and discuss some issues that they may be having. However, there are confidentiality issues that have to be overcome with that.
Im Worrying A Lot Over Big And Little Things
Just about every morning before school last fall, Veronica Greens 7-year-old daughter cried because her stomach hurt. Green, who has suffered from irritable bowel syndrome and reflux in the past, worried that her daughter was developing similar gastrointestinal issues. Her symptoms were so dramatic that I kept her home from school for three days and took her to see the pediatrician. They did blood work, they took a stool sample, and they found nothing. Thats when the doctor said he thought it was anxiety.
Tummy troubles related to stress and worry are real physiological problems, Dr. Rana says. Our gut is heavily lined with nerve cells and connected to the brain. Theres a constant passage of information between them. The same way that stress can give you a headache, it can also affect some childrens gut health and cause stomachaches, cramps, nausea, and even diarrhea or vomiting.
Look for a pattern. If your child feels sick every night before bed or every morning, they could be anxious about school or another regular happening in their day. If they get nauseated before leaving the house for an outdoor birthday party or a soccer match, they could be worried about feeling left out or messing up and getting embarrassed on the field.
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