While it’s easy to worry about your child’s stomach pain, the good news is that it’s not serious in most cases.
Many children can get by with no treatment or use kids’ stomach pain home remedies, including ginger ale, warm compresses, and heating pads.
However, the reality is that stomach pain in children is wide-ranging, from minor to life-threatening.
The following information can help you determine how bad your kids’ stomach pain is and whether they need urgent care or the ER. You can know the symptoms of stomach pain in children and when to worry.
Common Causes of Stomach Pain in Children
Indigestion, stomach viruses, constipation, and dehydration are among the top reasons why children have stomach pain. Look for these conditions and see if you can trace them back to your kiddo’s suffering.
Dyspepsia and heartburn are the two common types of indigestion, and they both appear not long after eating or drinking.
Dyspepsia is discomfort in the upper abdomen, and heartburn is a burning sensation behind the breastbone. Someone in pain from indigestion may have heartburn, dyspepsia, or both.
Your kid will show symptoms including nausea, feeling full, burping, and regurgitating food or fluid into the esophagus.
Indigestion, though common, is usually mild in children and adults, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much. Home remedies for these stomach aches do the trick most times.
Often referred to as the “stomach flu,” gastroenteritis is another cause of stomach aches in kids. Viruses run their course in 3 to 5 days, so it’s not necessary to see a doctor for this condition in most cases.
The symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea and/or vomiting and low-grade temperatures. If your child has a stomach virus, make sure they drink plenty of fluids.
Your child’s stomach may hurt because of constipation, which happens when they don’t have enough fiber and water in their diet.
Hard, dry stools and infrequent bowel movements are signs of constipation in children. Constipation or lactose intolerance are not unusual reasons for stomach pain in kids.
Finally, kids can lose more fluids than they take in and suffer from severe dehydration. It can become a serious issue for infants and children, who are the most susceptible.
Being in the sun too long, sweating after exercising, and taking medicines that cause frequent urination increases the risk of dehydration. Vomiting and diarrhea are among the symptoms of dehydration.
Other symptoms besides stomach discomfort include:
- Feeling thirsty, tired, and/or dizzy
- Pee is dark yellow and strong-smelling
- Mouth, lips, and eyes are dry
- Peeing fewer than 4 times a day
Tips for Pinpointing the Cause of Abdominal Pain in Children
Children can’t always identify the spot where their stomach hurts. If they can, it provides a clue to the source of the problem and help doctors treat the condition.
However, keep in mind that the part of the stomach where the child indicates pain may or may not be accurate. This is a judgment call you can make based on their age and maturity.
Other factors used to diagnose general stomach pain include:
- The severity of the pain;
- What makes it better or worse;
- Accompanying symptoms, such as vomiting, gas, bloating, cramping, or nausea; and
- When the discomfort occurs, especially if it’s recurrent abdominal pain.
Around the Belly Button
Most times, you don’t have to stress if your kiddo experiences stomach pain near their belly button. Excess stress or eating something that upsets their stomach are common culprits.
If a child’s pain is around the belly button, try the following:
- Suggest they lie down and rest
- Ask if they need to poop
- Offer them a glass of water
- Offer the distraction of reading a book to them or suggest a quiet game
On the lower right side of the stomach (Possible Appendicitis)
Appendicitis could be the cause of your children having sudden and sharp pain in the lower right part of their abdomens. This is a serious medical emergency, and it is not wise to assume they’re fine without a second opinion.
If you suspect that your child may have appendicitis, contact their pediatrician immediately or bring them to the children’s hospital.
Symptoms of appendicitis include the following:
- Sudden, severe pain on the lower right part of the stomach
- Your child has a fever
- Difficulty passing gas
- Loss of appetite
On the Left Side of the Stomach
When a child complains of stomach pain on the left side of their stomach, they likely have constipation. Pancreatitis is another possibility but is a rarity in kids. Their pediatrician can diagnose pancreatitis with a blood test if necessary.
The warning signs of this severe condition include a sudden onset of constant, severe pain that usually radiates to the back, or the upper body. Leaning forward usually relieves this type of pain.
In the Upper Abdomen
The last tip for pinpointing your child’s stomach pain is paying attention to discomfort in the middle of their belly. Heartburn, bloating, burping, and nausea often follow.
Although it’s more common for adults to suffer from gallstones, children with obesity and other health conditions may be at risk.
If gallstone disease tends to run in the family or if the child has sickle cell disease, the chance they have gallstones grows.
Home Remedies for Stomach Pain in Kids
Thankfully, most tummy aches and upset stomachs aren’t serious conditions. This means you can treat your kiddo at home while getting ready for work or in the middle of the night.
Most minor stomach pain doesn’t last any longer than 1-2 hours, so your child should feel better before school the next day by trying these home remedies:
- Ask your kid to rest or lay down in bed
- Set a heating pad or warm compress on their stomach
- Make sure they’ve pooped to try and release gas
- Massage your kiddo’s stomach to alleviate indigestion
- Have them take sips from a glass of water
- Keep a food diary to discover connections between tummy aches and food
When to Contact a Doctor About Your Child’s Stomach Pain
Seeing a doctor is sometimes needed for diagnosing and treating abdominal pain in children. Signs of serious medical conditions cause doctors to recommend an office or emergency room visit.
Be sure to contact your child’s pediatrician if your child has a stomach ache and one or more of the following signs or symptoms:
- Severe pain
- Green vomit
- Symptoms of appendicitis (more above)
- Fever accompanied by a bad cough
- Urinating is painful, which could be a urinary tract infection
- High fever and unusual sleepiness
- The child is losing weight from diarrhea or vomiting
When to Seek Urgent Medical Help for Abdominal Pain in Children
As common as stomachs in children tend to be, your kiddo could be in life-threatening danger. There are times when you must seek emergency help since the stomach pain could be pointing to a more serious illness.
Seek urgent medical care for your child online or in person if they experience the following:
- Severe or worsening pain
- Pain that has moved position
- Vomiting for longer than 24 hours
- Chills or fever
- The child is pale, sweaty, and unwell
- Refuses to eat or drink
- Blood in the vomit
- Blood in the stool
- Problems urinating
- A skin rash accompanied by pain
- If your child is having a dangerous allergic reaction, symptoms include hives, dizziness, swelling of the face, a pale appearance
Where to Get Help for a Child with a Stomachache
If your child complains of stomach pain every day or you are concerned about their symptoms associated with a stomach ache, we can help. Home remedies for stomach pain don’t always work, and you may need to call a doctor.
Our caring pediatricians can see your kids from anywhere, including the comfort of their beds. Simply schedule an appointment, and we can see your children online, even after hours.
No matter who you are, where you live, or what socio-economic advantages you do or don’t have, our team provides equal access to healthcare. Give us a call today at (888)-961-8885, or create a free account to get started.