Abdominal Pain Or Stomach Ache In Children Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies

Abdominal Pain Or Stomach Ache In Children Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies


Abdominal Pain or Stomach Ache is the most common complaint in children and one of the most common reasons for parents to take their children to pediatricians. There are many causes for abdominal pain in children. Possible causes for a child's abdominal pain range from trivial to life-threatening, with little difference in the child's complaints. However, with correct diagnosis and right treatment, the pain can improve quite quickly. The tricky part for parents is to decide whether their children's complaint warrants immediate medical attention or not. Treatment depends on the cause of the pain and can range from rest and liquid diet to hospitalization and even surgery.

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Abdominal Pain Or Stomach Ache In Children Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies

Causes of Abdominal Pain or Stomach Ache in Children


Given below are some of the common causes for abdominal pain of stomach ache in children

Infections


Such as bacterial or viral can cause abdominal pain, e.g. stomach flu (gastroenteritis). Viral infections have a tendency to abate quickly, whereas bacterial infections need antibiotics for treatment.

Food intake


Eating contaminated food causes food poisoning, which has symptoms similar to that of gut/stomach flu. Other food related causes for stomach/abdomen pain include: Overeating, food allergies, gases resulting in bloating and discomfort. If the pain in the abdomen is due to something in the food, then it often occurs immediately after eating.

Poisoning


This can range from simple problems (such as eating soap) to more serious issues like swallowing iron pills, magnets, coins, botulism from spoiled food, or an overdose of medications.

Medications


Over dosage of medications like acetaminophen (acetaminophen poisoning) also causes stomach pain in children.

Surgery Related


Causes or problems related to surgery such as obstruction of the bowels or appendicitis also causes stomach pain.

Other Medical Issues


Children can have abdominal pain, as a result of complications from diabetes. Other causes such as getting bitten by a black widow spider also causes pain in the abdomen.

Signs and Symptoms of Abdominal Pain or Stomach Ache in Children


A parent or caregiver usually can notice pain in a child's abdomen. Infants and very young toddlers may cry, express pain facially, and curl up. Young children are usually quick to tell you what is wrong. Some teenagers may be reluctant to report pain, and you must try to get a clear explanation of what they are feeling. Ask about these conditions:

Duration of the pain


Most simple causes of abdominal pain do not last long. Most of us have experienced gas pains or the stomach/gut flu, and recall that the pain was usually gone within 24 hours. Any abdominal pain that continues longer than 24 hours should be evaluated by a physician.

Abdominal Pain Or Stomach Ache In Children Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies

Location of the pain


Most simple pains are located in the center of the abdomen. The child will rub around his or her belly button. Pain felt in other areas is more concerning. This is especially true of pain located low and down on the right side of the abdomen. Pain in that area should be considered as appendicitis until proven otherwise.

Appearance of the child


As a general rule, if the child looks very ill in addition to being in pain, medical help should be sought. Often, the caregiver "just knows" the child is very sick. When abdominal pain occurs, key things to look for include pale appearance, sweating, sleepiness or listlessness. It is most concerning when a child cannot be distracted from the pain with play, or refuses to drink or eat for several hours.

Vomiting


Children vomit quite frequently with abdominal pain, but vomiting does not always indicate a serious problem. However, as with the duration of the pain, most simple causes of vomiting go away very quickly. The rule again is that vomiting for longer than 24 hours is a legitimate reason to call the physician.

Nature of the vomiting


In infants and very young children, vomiting that is green or yellow is a reason to call the doctor. At any age, vomiting that appears to contain blood or darker material is a reason to seek emergency care.

Diarrhea


Diarrhea is also common with abdominal pain and usually indicates that a virus is the cause. This can continue for several days but usually only lasts less than 72 hours (three days). Any blood in the stool is a reason to seek medical care.

Fever


The presence of fever does not always indicate a serious problem. Indeed, a normal temperature can be seen with the more serious causes of abdominal pain.

Groin pain


One serious problem that a boy may describe as abdominal pain actually comes from somewhere else. It is testicular torsion, a condition in which a testicle twists on itself and cuts off its own blood supply. The child may be embarrassed to mention the location, so you should ask if there is any pain "down there." A testicular problem is usually easy to fix if treated early enough. So, if a child complains of pain in the groin area or testicles, seek medical emergency care.

Urinary problems


Abdominal pain associated with any trouble urinating, such as painful or frequent urination, could indicate an infection and is a reason to seek medical care.

Rash


Certain serious causes of abdominal pain also occur with a new rash. The combination of skin rash with abdominal pain is a reason to contact your doctor.

Abdominal Pain Or Stomach Ache in Children Diagnosis


Abdominal pain in children has several potential causes, affecting multiple organ systems, each requiring a unique set of diagnostic tests. The doctor will obtain a thorough history and examine the child, which likely will include a rectal exam to evaluate the presence of blood. From this information the doctor may order additional tests.

Blood probably will be drawn and sent to a laboratory for blood cell counts (complete blood count, CBC), liver function tests, blood cultures, amylase/lipase levels, and/or lead level. A urine sample may be obtained and sent for urinalysis and culture.

A stool sample may be obtained to check for blood, bacteria, or parasites.

Imaging studies (X-rays and related studies) may be taken to evaluate the abdomen. Other tests may include:

  • Ultrasound of the abdomen/testicles
  • CT scan of the abdomen

Special tests may be ordered based on the child's condition, including barium enema or swallow, anal manometry, or a pelvic exam.

A specialist such as a gastroenterologist or a general or a pediatric surgeon may be consulted.

Treatment and Home Remedies for Abdominal Pain or Stomach Ache in Children


Treatment depends on the cause of the pain. Minor causes only require rest, lots of fluids and a bland diet. If the abdominal pain is from something serious, then hospital stay and surgery may be needed.
Given below are some simple measures which can help in relief from abdominal pain in children:
Rest: Rest is important for any illness. For abdominal pain, lying face down helps in alleviating pain from gases.

Diet


Liquid diet is very important; however, you should never force your child, especially if he/she is vomiting, as they won't be able to hold too much liquid. The best way is to give your child small sips of fluids (around 1-2 ounces), periodically (every 10-15 minutes), till the child is able to keep down more. Drinks which are sugary, tinted, caffeinated, carbonated, salty or fatty should be strictly avoided.

Fluids to give


Milk, tea, coffee, dark colas, fruit juices and sports drinks should not be given. Water and boiled milk should be avoided in infants, as they can cause disturbances with the salt content in their bodies, plus milk is difficult to digest for a sick stomach. Over-the-counter oral electrolytes are easily available and are recommended by the doctors as best to be given in such cases. However, parents should try to get back their child on normal feedings as soon as he/she child feels better.

Solid foods


The child will let you know when it is time to get back on solid food. Start them slowly, first try toast or crackers then advance to regular foods as they tolerate the feedings. Banana, apple sauce, plain toast, or cooked rice are also suitable foods for introduction after a full liquid diet.

Medications


You can use acetaminophen (Aspirin Free, Children's Silapap, Panadol, Liquiprin, or Tylenol) to control fever. Most doctors still avoid aspirin in children. Avoid antibiotics unless prescribed by a doctor. Physicians do not recommend herbal medicines or other home remedies. If you use them and later see a physician, be sure to tell the physician exactly what you gave the child, because such material could affect the treatment recommendations.

When to Call a Doctor


Call your child’s doctor immediately if your child has any of the following:


  • Persistent pain on the right side of the abdomen, which could be an appendicitis
  • Pain confined to one part of the abdomen
  • Severe or rapidly worsening abdominal pain or pain that doesn’t go away within 24 hours
  • Pain or tenderness when you press on the belly
  • A swollen abdomen or an abdomen that is rigid to the touch
  • Pain in the groin, or pain or swelling in a testicle
  • Unexplained fever
  • Lots of vomiting or diarrhea
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Blood in the stool or vomit
  • A recent abdominal injury
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