Abdominal pain in kids is very common and may be a symptom of different kinds of condition. Whether it is a simple food overload or a more serious problem, kid's abdominal pain can be categorized as mild, uncomfortable pain to excruciating pain. Children who are 4 years and above can already tell if they have stomach aches, however, for children less than 3 years old, parents are left to assume it's a belly ache when the child cries endlessly.
There are several reasons a child may complain abdominal pain. It is crucial for a parent to know whether it should need immediate medical attention or not. Most abdominal pain in kids can be treated at home using natural home remedies but there are times that the condition can be a cause of a more serious underlying condition that warrants an immediate checkup with a doctor.
Symptoms of abdominal pain in kids
Abdominal pain or belly ache can be a nuisance, especially if the child cannot pinpoint what's bothering them. For parents who can't seem to address what is bothering their child, the following symptoms may mean abdominal pain:
Diarrhea causes abdominal pain, especially when your child ate something that is contaminated with bacteria that cause stomach irritation. Children who have diarrhea are usually brought to the emergency room for proper diagnosis and medication. They are usually given intravenous therapy to keep them from being dehydrated while doctors treat the condition.
A child may experience belly ache because of the abnormal movement of their stool. Constipation can lead to fluid retention as well as the inability to pass out gas. Bloating can result to abdominal pain in which doctors may prescribe oral medication to loosen their bowel.
When a child vomits, it is usually caused by bad bacteria that irritate the stomach. It is also the body's initial reaction to withdraw the toxins out from the body. After a child vomits, he usually feels better and can be on the road to recovery, however, if it persists for more than 24 hours, parents should bring the child to a doctor for proper diagnosis.
- Hardening of the abdomen
In the event that there is an occurrence of abdominal pain in kids for whatever reason, their abdomen tends to tighten because of the stress brought by too much pain. A gentle massage sometimes helps ease the pain and to pass out gas.
Home remedy for abdominal pain in kids
Most abdominal pain that kids feel can be treated at home. Because of their active lifestyle, it is very common for them to experience belly aches every now and then. Here are some of the home treatment and management that you can do for abdominal pain in children.
Have your child lay still in her bed to calm her abdomen. Most mild abdominal pain can go away in a span of 35-45 minutes. Along with this, a parent may gently massage the belly part to help relax the muscle in the abdominal part.
- Gentle massage on the belly part
Parents can gently massage the painful area using a baby oil to keep the abdomen warm and comfortable. The massage will normalize the movement in the stomach and will eventually relieve the pain felt by the child. Massaging should be in a circular motion, alternately moving to the left and to the right.
- Give fluids
If a child is experiencing abdominal pain, see if they can drink clear fluids such as water or juices. Some belly aches are normally caused by solid foods that are hard to digest. Fluids also help relax the abdomen and hydrate the child that can eventually make the abdominal pain go away.
- Convince the child to pass stool
Abdominal pain usually happens before passing stool. Children are more prone to hold their stool and undermine the call of nature. Convincing them to go to the bathroom and sit there for a while until they feel the urge to pass up stool can help ease their abdominal pain.
- Avoid giving them carbonated drinks
Sodas and other drinks that have caffeine in them should not be given to the child even they ask for it. This can increase the pain they feel and cause diarrhea after a period of time.
- Apply topical cream to the abdomen
Topical creams are usually applied to babies who have abdominal pains. In most cases, parents assume that their baby is experiencing abdominal pain when they can't seem to stop them from crying. Sometimes a gentle pat on their stomach lets you hear bloated sound. This means that the baby's stomach is full of gas that needed to come out. Applying a topical cream has a warm feeling in the abdomen that eventually leads to passing out gas.
When do you know it is time to see a doctor?
While some abdominal pains in children are mild and can be treated at home, there are some symptoms that require an immediate medical attention.
- Localized pain
If a child complains about an abdominal pain in a specific, localized region, parents should pay more attention to it. Pain on the side of their abdomen may affect their kidneys, liver or gall stones. Pain in the lower part of the abdomen is another thing to watch as it can be caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Nausea, fever and diarrhea
When a child complains about abdominal pain that is accompanied by vomiting, fever and diarrhea, immediately bring her to the emergency room for proper diagnosis. While it is not very common, some abdominal pains accompanied by other illnesses can be fatal especially with children.
- Frequent abdominal pain
If a child experiences frequent abdominal pain, you may need to see a doctor for proper diagnosis. Regular bouts with abdominal pain can also be the cause of other underlying illnesses the parents may not know about.
Medical treatment of abdominal pain for children can only be given after a series of laboratory tests and diagnosis from the doctors. Meanwhile, the child may only be given first aid or emergency treatment to ease the pain.
Diagnosis of abdominal pain in kids
The diagnosis of abdominal pain in kids varies depending on the severity and frequency of the pain. If the pain comes regularly that seems to increase every time, the doctor may take a blood sample in order to check the liver function as well as the blood cell count. Urine tests can also be performed to see if there is any urinary tract infection that causes the pain.
A stool sample is also considered for proper testing. Most children acquire parasites that usually give them the stomach bug. The stool sample will also enable doctors to see another cause of their abdominal pain. Imaging or CT scan can also be performed if the above testing proves negative of anything that can possibly lead to abdominal pain. CT scan allows doctors to see if there is any abnormality in the abdomen of the child such as growth and tumors.
Once a child complains of a chronic abdominal pain, it is very important to see a doctor for proper diagnosis. Any type of abdominal pain left untreated may lead to a life threatening situation in the future. Parents should know the emergency signs of abdominal pain in kids and bring them to the doctor immediately.