Abdominal Pain

There are many potential causes of belly pain.  Any pain that is severe or prolonged deserves a visit to the office.  The information below is designed to help with suggestions for relief overnight for acute onset abdominal pain and to determine whether or not to seek emergency care for your child.

Emergency Care:

Call us or seek emergency care if:

  • The abdominal pain is severe, located in the right lower part of the abdomen, and your child has refused to eat or drink at all since the onset of the pain. If they are old enough, ask them to jump up and land on their heels. If they refuse or the pain is significantly worse with this pain they may have appendicitis and should be seen immediately.
  • Infants or Toddlers with a distended abdomen (looks like a balloon in their belly), irritability (constantly crying), and/or bloody diarrhea also need immediate attention, especially if they are alternating between crying and lethargy.
  • They recently had a seemingly minor or moderate trauma to the abdomen and now have significant pain.
  • They have frequent urination and/or pain with urination
  • They have signs of dehydration with vomiting and diarrhea.
  • There is any possibility of a poisoning or toxic exposure.
  • They have a high fever and significant cough with signs of distress (see cough)
  • If they do not meet the above criteria some home treatment may be warranted.

If your child has vomiting and/or diarrheasee the Vomiting & Diarrhea topic below.

For Intermittent gas pain, a warm water bottle (hot water bottle) on the abdomen may be soothing. We occasionally will recommend some Tylenol (acetaminophen) for temporary pain relief. In general if there is a risk of dehydration, we avoid the use of ibuprofen.

If the pain is chronic or recurrent, causes are multiple and include:

  • Colic, Milk protein intolerance, and reflux in infants
  • Reflux, Constipation, and Psychological stress in older children

This list is not all–inclusive and determining the cause usually requires an office visit. If you feel your child’s pain is a chronic problem or due to stress, please let our front desk know so they can give the physicians adequate appointment time to take a complete history.