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Common Causes of Abdominal Pain in Children

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More often than not, abdominal pain in children is usually benign. However, quick diagnosis and treatment are still necessary to minimize the discomfort and pain that could be too much for a child to tolerate. Don’t hesitate to bring your child to our Spring Hill Walk-in Clinic for a thorough medical assessment and treatment.

Although there are plenty of disorders that can cause children to become sick in the stomach, below are the most common causes of abdominal pain among kids.

1. Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis in children, also known as stomach flu, may spring from a viral infection. It occurs when people share food, water, utensils, towels or even toys with someone who has the virus.

Norovirus and rotavirus are two of the most common gastroenteritis viruses that can be quite severe in younger children. While there are vaccines to prevent this infection, it’s still best to take precautions so that the child won’t be at risk of stomach flu.

Some of the steps to take to prevent gastroenteritis include:

  • Cooking food properly, especially meat and seafood.
  • Washing hands before eating, and after using the toilet.
  • Boosting the child’s immunities with healthy, vitamin-rich food.
  • Using a mask when the virus is in season.
  • Resisting to share food in groups, especially among school children.
  • Using separate utensils, especially if a family member has the virus.
  • Disinfecting the home.

The most common symptom of gastroenteritis is diarrhea and vomiting. Children with stomach flu also develop a low-grade fever and may be quite irritable because of abdominal pain, headaches, or muscle aches. In severe cases, gastroenteritis can lead to dehydration, hence it’s best to seek the doctor’s help at the first sign of the condition to prevent this complication.

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2. Appendicitis

Appendicitis occurs when the appendix has been inflamed due to a blockage caused by an infection, a hardened stool, or the inflammation of the lymph nodes around the intestines. In the United States, an estimated 70,000 children a year experience appendicitis, according to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) and 20 to 30 percent of these cases require emergency surgery due to a ruptured appendix.

The abdominal pain may start around the belly button and extend to the lower right abdomen. The child may also vomit, develop a fever and refuse to eat.

Immediate medical attention is vital when a child complains of this type of abdominal pain because it only takes 48 hours before the appendix could burst. Diagnosing this condition requires an ultrasound, a CT scan, as well as urine and blood tests.

An appendix that hasn’t ruptured can be treated with antibiotics for the time being. However, the doctor might recommend a scheduled surgery.

3. Constipation

Constipation commonly happens in young children who are still toilet training, or going through diet changes. While this is a temporary condition, the discomfort of infrequent bowel movements, coupled with hard, or dry stool and some bleeding can become traumatic for a child.

Because of constipation, the child might fear the toilet or hold the urge to go because doing so is painful. Though this isn’t a great cause for concern as constipation is not serious, a visit to the doctor might be necessary if:

  • there’s blood in the stool
  • the abdomen is swelling
  • the child has a fever and obvious weight loss

Children who suffer from constipation should curb their high-fat food intake and increase fiber, fruits and vegetables in their diet. The kids must also learn to eat meals based on a regular schedule to facilitate proper bowel movement.

What to do?

The management for abdominal pain depends on the cause. If the abdominal pain is severe, has persisted for days, or is accompanied by fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, consult our highly trained physicians in Lifeguard Urgent Care Spring Hill Walk-in Clinic immediately.

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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.