|When to Call Your Doctor|
|Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If|
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
|Parent Care at Home If|
|Causes & Health Information|
- Eating Too Much. Eating too much can cause an upset stomach and mild stomach pain.
- Virus (such as Rotavirus). A virus can cause stomach cramps as well as vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- Food Poisoning. This causes sudden vomiting and/or diarrhea within hours after eating the bad food. It is caused by toxins from germs growing in foods left out too long. Most often, symptoms go away in less than 24 hours. It often can be treated at home without the need for medical care.
- Constipation. The need to pass a stool may cause cramps in the lower abdomen.
- Strep. A strep throat can cause up to 10% of new onset stomach pain with fever.
- Serious Cause. Appendicitis. Suspect appendicitis if pain is low on the right side and walks bent over. Other signs are the child won't hop and wants to lie still.
- Stress or Worries. The most common cause of frequent stomach pains is stress. Over 10% of children have a "worried stomach". These children tend to be sensitive and too serious. They often are model children. This can make them more at risk to the normal stresses of life. Examples of these events are changing schools, moving or family fights. The pain is in the pit of the stomach or near the belly button. The pain is real.
- Mild: Your child feels pain and tells you about it. But, the pain does not keep your child from any normal activities. School, play and sleep are not changed.
- Moderate: The pain keeps your child from doing some normal activities. It may wake him or her up from sleep.
- Severe: The pain is very bad. It keeps your child from doing all normal activities.
|CARE ADVICE FOR MILD STOMACH PAIN|
- What You Should Know:
- Mild stomach pain can be caused by something simple. It could be from gas pains or eating too much.
- Sometimes, stomach pain signals the start of a viral infection. This will lead to vomiting or loose stools.
- Watching your child for 2 hours will help tell you the cause.
- Here is some care advice that should help.
- Have your child lie down and rest until feeling better.
- Clear Fluids:
- Offer clear fluids only (such as water, flat soft drinks or half-strength Gatorade).
- For mild pain, offer a regular diet.
- Prepare for Vomiting:
- Keep a vomiting pan handy.
- Younger children often talk about nausea (a need to vomit) as stomach pain.
- Pass a Stool:
- Have your child sit on the toilet and try to pass a stool.
- This may help if the pain is from constipation or diarrhea.
- Note: For constipation, moving a warm wet cotton ball on the anus may help.
- Do Not Give Medicines:
- Any drug (like ibuprofen) could upset the stomach and make the pain worse.
- Do not give any pain medicines or laxatives for stomach cramps.
- For fever over 102° F (39° C), acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be given.
- What to Expect:
- With harmless causes, the pain is most often better or gone in 2 hours.
- With stomach flu, belly cramps may happen before each bout of vomiting or diarrhea. These cramps may come and go for a few days.
- With serious causes (such as appendicitis), the pain worsens and becomes constant.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Pain becomes severe
- Constant pain lasts more than 2 hours
- Mild pain that comes and goes lasts more than 24 hours
- Your child becomes worse
- Extra Help: Worried Stomach:
- Help your child talk about events that trigger the stomach pain. Talk to your child about how to cope with these the next time around.
- Help your child worry less about things he or she can't control.
- To treat the pain, help your child get very relaxed. Laying down in a quiet place and taking slow deep breaths may help. Then try to relax all the muscles in the body. Think about something pleasant. Listening to CDs that teach how to relax might also help.
- Make sure your child gets enough sleep.
- Make sure that your child doesn't miss any school because of stomach pains. Stressed children tend to want to stay home when the going gets rough.
- Caution: Your child should see his doctor for an exam. Do this before concluding frequent stomach pains are from worrying too much.
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012
Last Revised: 1/13/2013
Content Set: Child Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.