Abdominal Pain in Children
There are many causes of abdominal pain in children. It is one of the most common complaints kids have! While most of the time it is mild, there are some serious causes of belly pain.
Constipation is one of the most common causes of abdominal pain in children. It can be hard to know that older children are constipated because they go to the bathroom by themselves. Kids can poop every day and still be constipated. So, ask your child if it is hard or painful to use the bathroom, or if they have seen blood on the outside of their stool.
Urinary tract infections, appendicitis, and stomach viruses are common causes of belly pain. They tend to be accompanied by fever, nausea/vomiting, loss of appetite, and/or diarrhea, depending on the cause.
Intussusception is when the intestine telescopes within itself. It has sudden bursts of severe pain followed by lethargy. It sometimes causes bloody stools.
Children can also have migraines in their stomach, sometimes accompanied by vomiting. This is a long-term issue that is usually diagnosed over time.
“Functional abdominal pain” is occasional belly pain without other concerning symptoms. It is diagnosed after other causes have been ruled out.
What are the signs/symptoms of appendicitis?
Older children usually have pain in the right lower side of their abdomen with loss of appetite, fever, and nausea/vomiting. It usually hurts to move or touch their belly. Children under 6 can be much more subtle, so any young child with severe belly pain should be seen quickly.
When should I take my child to the emergency room?
Any time you see blood mixed in with your child’s stool or their pain is very severe and accompanied by other symptoms, they should probably be seen immediately. If they have been vomiting and appear dehydrated, they should see their doctor, or go to the ER if their doctor is not available.