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Abdominal Pain in Children


Abdominal pain

is felt in the abdomen between the bottom of your child's rib cage and his groin. Acute pain lasts less than 3 months. Chronic pain lasts longer than 3 months.

Common pain symptoms:

Your child's pain may be sharp or dull. The pain may stay in the same place or move around. Your child may have the pain all the time, or it may come and go. He may have nausea, vomiting, fever, or diarrhea. He may cry or scream from the pain. A young child who cannot talk may tug, massage, or pull on his abdomen.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child's abdominal pain gets worse.
  • Your child vomits blood, or you see blood in your child's bowel movement.
  • Your child's pain gets worse when he moves or walks.
  • Your child has vomiting that does not stop.
  • Your male child's pain moves into his genital area.
  • Your child's abdomen becomes swollen or very tender to the touch.
  • Your child has trouble urinating.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child's abdominal pain does not get better after a few hours.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child cannot stop vomiting.
  • You have questions about your child's condition or care.

Treatment for abdominal pain

may include medicine to decrease your child's pain. Do not give aspirin to children younger than 18 years. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Care for your child:

  • Take your child's temperature every 4 hours.
  • Have your child rest until he feels better.
  • Ask when your child can eat solid foods. You may be told not to feed your child solid foods for 24 hours.
  • Give your child an oral rehydration solution (ORS). ORS is liquid that contains water, salts, and sugar to help prevent dehydration. Ask what kind of ORS to use and how much to give your child.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.