January 28, 2010

Causes of Abdominal Pain in Children

Posted in Category : Child Health

If you are concerned about how often your child complains about a stomachache, rest assured that you are far from being alone. Abdominal pain happens to be one of the most common reasons for parents to seek medical attention for their children.

Almost all children have suffered from a tummy ache at some point or the other. Though many parents may not realize it, this problem is all the more common in toddlers. Most instances of child stomach ache do not really require any medical treatment. However, in some kids the pain may be more severe or may last for a longer period of time. Moreover, at times recurring pain in the belly may be an indication of a more serious, underlying health problem. Therefore, in case your child experiences stomachaches quite frequently, the best course of action is to visit a doctor and identify the possible causes.

Causes: There are numerous factors that could cause your little one to suffer from a stomachache. Given below are some of the common causes of child stomach ache:

  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Bloating or excessive gas production
  • Colic (in case of babies and toddlers)
  • Digestive problems, like constipation or diarrhea
  • Food, especially milk allergies or intolerances
  • Menstrual pain (in girls)
  • Nervousness, anxiety or an emotional upset
  • Overeating or the consumptions of foods that are heavy and hard to digest
  • Severe cough
  • Sudden changes in the diet
  • Viral or bacterial infections, often from gastroenteritis or the stomach flu

Certain causes of a stomachache in kids can be quite serious and should be addressed by a doctor immediately. Some of the more severe causes of tummy aches in kids include:

  • Appendicitis
  • Blockage in the bowels
  • Consumption of toxic substances
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Food poisoning or lead poisoning
  • Intussusceptions
  • Migraine (rare instances)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Strep throat and mononucleosis
  • Tumor or cancer
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Ulcers
  • Urinary tract infections (kidney or bladder infections)

Unfortunately, it is not always possible for a medical health care expert to identify the exact cause of the stomach ache in kids.

Symptom: Stomach pain is not a disease or a condition, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem. In several instances a stomachache may be accompanied by other symptoms, which can help you identify the cause. Look out for symptoms like:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Passing excessive gas

Unlike older children, infants and toddlers may not be able to tell you that they are suffering from stomachache, though there are a few telltale signs that can alert to the fact. Your toddler may have tummy pain, in case you notice these signs:

  • Increased irritation and fussiness
  • Crying excessively or uncontrollably
  • Drawing up the legs towards the belly
  • Poor feeding
  • Passing excessive gas
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting

You need to seek immediate medical attention for your child in case you notice any of the symptoms mentioned below:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Prolonged loss of appetite
  • Fever of more than 101 degrees F
  • Diarrhea that lasts for more than two days
  • Traces of blood in stools or vomit
  • Appearance of a rash or a lump on the body
  • Excessive sweating
  • Green colored vomit
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Rigid or hard belly (mainly in toddlers)

It is also advisable to call a pediatrician if your child’s stomachache persists after medication.

Treatment: The treatment for a stomachache usually depends on the underlying cause. In case your child is suffering from an infection or the stomach flu, your doctor may prescribe medications. However, the pain is not a result of a serious medical problem your doctor may just recommend a light diet and a few simple home remedies. Given below are a few effective self-care measures and home remedies for stomach pain in toddlers and children:

  • Rest: Have your child lie down for about half an hour or so, in order to ease the pain and discomfort in the tummy. It is best to make your kid lie down on his left side; this will cause him to burp as the gas in the stomach rises up.
  • Heat therapy: Apply a hot water bag or a heating pad on to your child’s abdomen, making sure that the temperature is not too high. For a toddler, you could warm a thick napkin in the microwave and place it on your little one’s belly.
  • Liquids: Your child may not want to eat, because of the pain and discomfort. Instead of forcing him to eat, try to keep him on a light, liquid diet, which comprises of water, clear broth and light tea (preferably chamomile or peppermint tea). Beverages like ginger ale and lemonade are also good for a stomachache
  • Passing stools: Many children gain immediate relief from a stomachache after visiting the bathroom. Therefore, try to encourage your kid to pass stool for tummy ache relief.
  • Diet: In case your child is willing to eat solids, make sure that he consumes foods like bananas, apples, toast and some cooked rice. Avoid tomatoes, dairy products and fried food for a couple of days.

While these remedies are quite safe if used correctly, it is best to consult a doctor before trying any of them. If the tummy ache persists even after trying these remedies, have a doctor examine your child.


  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007504.htm