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Acute Abdominal Pain In Children

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What do I need to know about acute abdominal pain in children?

Acute abdominal pain usually starts suddenly and gets worse quickly.

What are minor causes of acute abdominal pain in children?

  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux
  • An allergic reaction to food, or food poisoning
  • Colic in infants
  • Stress
  • Monthly period pain in older female children

What are serious causes of acute abdominal pain in children?

  • A blockage in your child's bowels
  • Inflammation or rupture of your child's appendix
  • Bleeding in your child's abdomen or organ
  • An ulcer or tear in your child's esophagus, stomach, or intestines
  • Swelling or an infection in your child's abdomen or organ
  • Stones in your child's kidney or gallbladder
  • Twisting of your child's testicles or ovaries
  • An ectopic pregnancy in older female children

How is the cause of acute abdominal pain diagnosed?

The cause of your child's abdominal pain may not be found. Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's signs and symptoms. Tell the provider when your child's symptoms started and about any recent travel, surgery, or injury. Also tell him what makes your child's pain better or worse, and what treatments you have tried. The provider will examine your child. Based on what the provider finds from the exam, and your child's symptoms, your child may need more tests. Examples include blood or urine tests, an ultrasound, a CT scan, or an endoscopy.

How is acute abdominal pain treated?

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.
  • 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.

How can I help manage my child's symptoms?

  • 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 as directed.
    • Give your child more fiber if he has constipation. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, and legumes.
    • Do not give your child foods that cause gas, such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Do not give him soda or carbonated drinks, because these may also cause gas.
    • Do not give your child foods or drinks that contain sorbitol or fructose if he has diarrhea and bloating. Some examples are fruit juices, candy, jelly, and sugar-free gum. Do not give him high-fat foods, such as fried foods, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and desserts.
    • Give your child small meals more often. This may help decrease his abdominal pain.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • 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.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.

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