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Acute Abdominal Pain in Children

AMBULATORY CARE:

Acute abdominal pain

usually starts suddenly and gets worse quickly.

Abdominal Organs

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child's bowel movement has blood in it, or looks like black tar.
  • Your child is bleeding from his or her rectum.
  • Your child cannot stop vomiting, or vomits blood.
  • Your child's abdomen is larger than usual, very painful, and hard.
  • Your child has severe pain in his or her abdomen.
  • Your child feels weak, dizzy, or faint.
  • Your child stops passing gas and having bowel movements.

Call your child's doctor if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has new symptoms.
  • Your child's symptoms do not get better with treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment

may depend on the cause of your child's abdominal pain. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to decrease pain, treat a bacterial infection, or manage your child's symptoms. Do not give aspirin to children younger than 18 years. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he or she takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage.
  • Surgery may be needed to treat a serious cause of abdominal pain. Examples include surgery to treat appendicitis or a blockage in your child's bowels.

Care for your child:

  • Apply heat on your child's abdomen for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours. Do this for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Help your child manage stress. Your child's healthcare provider may recommend relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises to help decrease your child's stress. The provider may recommend that your child talk to someone about his or her stress or anxiety, such as a school counselor.
  • Make changes to the foods you give to your child, if needed:
    • Give your child more fiber if he or she has constipation. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, and legumes.

    • Do not give your child foods that cause gas. , Examples include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and carbonated drinks.
    • Do not give your child foods or drinks that contain sorbitol or fructose if he or she has diarrhea and bloating. Some examples are fruit juices, candy, jelly, and sugar-free gum. Do not give him or her high-fat foods, such as fried foods, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and desserts.
    • Have your child drink more liquid and eat small meals more often. This may help decrease his or her abdominal pain. Ask your child's healthcare provider how much liquid your child should have and which liquids are best for him or her. The provider may recommend an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS contains electrolytes that will help your child's digestive system.

Follow up with your child's doctor 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.