Abdominal pain in children can be a common occurrence that is caused by a variety of factors, ranging from minor digestive issues to serious medical conditions. While most cases of abdominal pain in children are not serious, it is important to know when to worry and seek medical attention. Parents often struggle to determine the cause of their child’s pain and determine the severity. In this blog we will discuss the common causes of abdominal pain in children and when to seek care.
A wide range of conditions can potentially cause abdominal pain but the most common causes include:
- Constipation : a common digestive problem that occurs when a child has difficulty passing stool that results in hard and infrequent bowel movements. It is caused by a variety of factors, including low-fiber diet, dehydration, medications, leading to pain, bloating and discomfort.
- Acute gastroenteritis : caused by viral or bacterial infection that affects lining of the stomach and intestines leading to symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and fever. It is highly contagious and can spread easily through contact with infected individuals or contaminated food and water.
- Appendicitis : occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed and swollen – is one of the more common reasons for a child to have surgery. Pain typically starts in the center of the abdomen and shifts to the lower right side. Appendicitis is a medical emergency, and parents should seek immediate medical attention.
- Indigestion or Food allergies : condition in which there is discomfort in a child’s upper abdomen. Usually will experience pain or burning, bloating, diarrhea, and nausea. It can be caused by overeating, consuming spicy or fatty foods, and stress. Most cases can be treated with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter remedies.
- Urinary tract infection : occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract, leading to infection. Symptoms may include frequent urination, pain or burning during urination, and abdominal pain. Treatment may involve antibiotics and fluids to help flush out the bacteria.
Symptoms that warrant a doctor’s visit
Abdominal pain is a common complaint among children, but in some cases, it may indicate a more serious condition that requires medical attention. Parents should be concerned if the abdominal pain is severe, persistent, and migrating or accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, vomiting blood, bloody stool, a swollen or tender abdomen or change in behavior. If the child is also showing signs of dehydration, it is also important to consult a healthcare professional.
How to take care of a child with abdominal pain
In most cases, abdominal pain in children can be treated at home. Here are a few home remedies that can help alleviate abdominal pain:
- Encourage your child to drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Avoid spicy and fatty foods during periods of illness.
- Use tylenol, antacids, simethicone or laxatives, after consulting with a physician.
- Encourage rest and relaxation.
It is important to note that these home remedies should not be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If the child’s abdominal pain persists or worsens, it is time to call your pediatrician.
In conclusion, a child suffering from abdominal pain is a major concern for any parent. Oftentimes, parents need not to be concerned when their child complains of abdominal pain. With a better understanding of the common causes of abdominal pain, parents can differentiate between minor issues and severe conditions that necessitates medical attention. If uncertain, it is best to be cautious and consult the child’s pediatrician.
By: Hiral Patel, D.O.