Abdominal Pain

SYMPTOMS:

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  • Pain or discomfort located between the bottom of the rib cage and the groin crease.
  • The older child complains of a stomachache.
  • The younger child should at least point or hold the abdomen (after 6-12 mos). Prior to 6 months, the protocol for crying should be used.

CALL YOUR DOCTOR NOW IF …

  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You suspect poisoning with a plant, medicine, or chemical. Notify poison control now.
  • Unable to walk or walks bent over holding the abdomen.
  • Pain mainly low on the right side.
  • Pain in the testicle or scrotum.
  • Severe pain anywhere.
  • Pain or crying present > 2 hours consistently.
  • Blood in the bowel movement or vomiting blood.
  • Vomiting bile (yellow or green stomach fluid). 
  • Recent injury to the abdomen or surgery.
  • Age less than two (2) years.
  • Fever > 105 degrees.
  • Intermittent pain that has lasted > 24 hours.

CALL YOUR DOCTOR WITHIN 24 HOURS IF …

  • Fever < 105 degrees F
  • Exposed to strep throat.
  • Possible lead exposure.
  • You think your child needs to be seen.

CALL YOUR DOCTOR DURING OFFICE HOURS IF …

  • You have other questions or concerns.
  • Abdominal pains are a recurrent problem.
  • Associated with abnormal menses.

PARENT CARE AT HOME FOR ABDOMINAL PAIN:

If your child has mild abdominal pain and you don't think your child needs to be seen:

  • REASSURANCE: A mild stomachache can be caused by something as simple as indigestion, gas pains, or overeating. Sometimes a stomachache signals the onset of a vomiting illness from a virus. Watching your child for two (2) hours will usually tell you the cause. 
  • REST: Encourage lying down and rest until feeling better.
  • CLEAR FLUIDS: Offer clear fluids only (i.e. Water, flat soft drinks, Pedialyte, or diluted juice).
  • PREPARE FOR VOMITING: Keep something handy in case vomiting occurs. Younger children refer to "nausea as a "stomachache".
  • PASS A BM: Encourage sitting on the potty/toilet to try to have a bowel movement. This may relieve the pain if it is due to constipation or diarrhea.
  • AVOID MEDICATIONS: Any drug could irritate the stomach lining making the abdominal pain worse. Do not give any medications for stomach cramps unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
  • EXPECTED COURSE: With harmless causes, the pain is usually improved or gone within two (2) hours. With viral illnesses, pain may precede each bout of vomiting or diarrhea. With serious causes such as appendicitis the pain worsens and is constant.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: Pain is present > 2 hours or if your child worsens or develops any of the above "Call your doctor" symptoms.

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