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Chronic Abdominal Pain In Children
Chronic abdominal pain
can occur in children 4 to 17 years of age. The pain occurs in your child's abdomen at least 3 times in 3 months.
Common signs and symptoms:
Signs and symptoms of chronic abdominal pain will come and go. Your child may have them for a day or more, and they may go away but return. Your child may feel pain in all areas of his abdomen, and he may not want to eat. He may not want to do his daily activities, such as school or sports. He may also have any of the following:
- Bloating and gas
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Slow growth or growth failure
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weight loss without trying
Seek care immediately if:
- Your child's abdominal pain gets worse and spreads to his back.
- Your child's bowel movement has a large amount of blood in it, or looks like black tar.
- Your child cannot stop vomiting, or vomits blood.
- Your child has diarrhea for 1 to 2 weeks.
- Your child has trouble breathing, and his skin looks pale.
Contact your child's healthcare provider if:
- Your child has abdominal pain that wakes him up at night.
- Your child has pain on his right side that does not go away.
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child has new mouth sores, trouble swallowing, or is losing weight without trying.
- Your child is not drinking liquids, and he is not urinating.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Treatment for chronic abdominal pain in children
may include any of the following:
- Medicines may be given to decrease stomach acid or treat a bacterial infection. Your child may also be given medicine to decrease diarrhea or to calm his stomach and control vomiting. Antidepressants may also be given to help decrease your child's anxiety or help relax his upper abdomen. Do not stop giving this medicine to your child unless his healthcare provider tells you to.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy can help your child learn to cope with stress. Your child will learn how to decrease or cope with his pain if it happens when he is scared or worried.
- Surgery is rarely needed, but may be done if there is something wrong with your child's abdomen. This could be because an organ in your child's abdomen is out of place, or not working correctly. A blocked intestine is an example of why your child may need surgery.
Manage your child's chronic abdominal pain:
- Apply heat on your child's abdomen for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- Make changes to the foods you give to your child, if needed.
- 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.
- Your child should drink plenty of liquids and eat small meals more often. This may help decrease his abdominal pain.
- Keep a diary of your child's pain. A diary may help your child's healthcare provider learn what is causing your child's abdominal pain. Include when the pain happens, what your child is doing, how long it lasts, and how he says it feels.
- Encourage your child to keep doing his usual activities. Encourage your child to talk about things that worry him. Find out if there are stressors at school by talking with your child's teachers. You may be able to help your child learn to cope better.
Follow up with your 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.