Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
- Your child complains that his abdomen (stomach) hurts.
For babies less than 3 months old with fussy crying, see
The causes are numerous. Usually acute abdominal pains are
caused by something simple like overeating, gas pains from
drinking too much soda pop, or other types of indigestion.
Sometimes a stomachache signals the onset of viral
gastroenteritis (stomach flu), and vomiting or diarrhea soon
The most common causes of recurrent abdominal pain are
stress and worries. Over 10% of children have recurrent
stomachaches from stress. The pain occurs in the pit of the
stomach or near the belly button. The pain is low grade but
real. Recurrent stomachaches can have numerous causes and
deserve medical attention.
With harmless causes, the pain is usually better or gone in
2 hours. With gastroenteritis, the cramps may precede each
bout of vomiting or diarrhea. With serious causes, the pain
worsens or becomes constant.
Your child should lie down and rest until he feels
better. A warm washcloth or heating pad on the abdomen
for 20 minutes may speed recovery.
Avoid giving your child solid foods; permit only sips of
clear fluids. Keep a vomiting pan handy. Younger
children are especially likely to refer to nausea as "a
- Sitting on the toilet
Encourage sitting on the toilet and trying to pass a BM.
This may relieve pain if it is due to constipation or
- Common mistakes in treating abdominal pain
Do not give any medications for stomach cramps unless
you have talked with your physician. Especially avoid
laxatives, enemas, and painkillers.
- The worried stomach
If your child has been evaluated by a physician and has
stomachaches from worries, these suggestions might ease
- Help your child worry less. Children with recurrent
stomachaches tend to be sensitive, serious,
conscientious, even model children. This can make
them more vulnerable to the normal stresses of life,
such as changing schools or moving. Help your
youngster talk about events that trigger his pains
and how he's going to cope with them.
- Make sure that your youngster doesn't miss any school
because of stomachaches. These children have a
tendency to want to stay home when the going gets
- Teach your child to use relaxation exercises for mild
pains. Have him lie down in a quiet place; take
deep, slow breaths; and think about something
pleasant. Listening to audiotapes that teach
relaxation might help.
- Caution: Your child should have a complete medical
checkup before you conclude that recurrent
stomachaches are due to worrying too much.
Call Your Physician Immediately If:
- The pain is severe AND lasts more than 1 hour.
- The pain is constant AND has lasted more than 2 hours.
- The pain comes and goes (cramps) AND lasts more than
- The pain is in the scrotum or testicle.
- Your child starts acting very sick.
Call Your Physician During Office Hours If:
- This is a recurrent problem for your child.
- You have other questions or concerns.
Pain with Urination