Making sure your child is healthy involves having a pediatrician you can trust, paying close attention to any issues and feeding them a good diet. If your child develops abdominal pain, there are a large number of potential causes. This can be worrying, as it can be hard to figure out what one thing might be causing the pain.
Sometimes the issue is minor and will go away on its own. Other times, it is necessary to visit a pediatrician. However, in some situations, the problem is severe enough that a visit to the emergency room is necessary. This guide can help parents understand how to recognize each of these situations and take the appropriate action.
Child abdominal pain
The most important things to look out for are the symptoms children exhibit.
The vast majority of the time, abdominal pain experienced by children is nothing serious. The most common cause is the flu or other minor sickness. Food poisoning causes severe abdominal pain, but it will typically pass in about 24 hours.
If the symptoms that accompany abdominal pain are mild and typical, such as fever, chills, aches and stuffy nose, there is almost certainly nothing to worry about. Ensure the child receives plenty of bed rest, drinks lots of clear fluids and sticks to bland foods like crackers and toast. If the abdominal pain has not gone away after 24 hours or the other symptoms remain after a week or two, a doctor's visit may be necessary. The key in these situations is to keep an eye on them and watch for changes.
Symptoms warranting a doctor's visit
Sometimes, children's condition is serious enough to warrant a visit to the pediatrician but not a visit to the emergency room. The biggest cause for concern is if the abdominal pain is moving. For all the minor problems, the pain should be in the general stomach area. If the pain has a pinpoint location or if the area in pain is not consistent, it may indicate that something is wrong with a specific internal organ.
It is also a good idea to visit the doctor if the child exhibits especially severe versions of otherwise minor symptoms. For example, it is normal to have diminished appetite while sick, but not being hungry for more than two or more days may be cause for concern.
If a child exhibits very serious symptoms, it is best not to go to a pediatrician first. Instead, seek out pediatric emergency care, which is likely offered at a local hospital. If a child has any of these symptoms, immediately seek emergency care:
- Bloody vomit or feces
- Frequent vomiting for multiple days
- Very little urine volume
- Intensified pain in response to touch
- Distended abdomen
With some or all of these symptoms, it is possible that the child's appendix is about to burst or they have intussusception, bowel obstruction, gastroenteritis, an infection or something more serious.
A child suffering from abdominal pain is a major concern for any parent. Some situations may be more serious than others. Ask a pediatrician to be sure, or else take children to the emergency room in cases of severe distress or concerning symptoms.
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