- Pain or discomfort in the stomach or belly area
- Pain found between the bottom of the rib cage and the groin crease
- The older child complains of stomach pain
- The younger child points to or holds the stomach
- Before 12 months of age, use the Crying care guides
Causes of Acute Stomach Pain
- Eating Too Much. Eating too much can cause an upset stomach and mild stomach pain.
- Hunger Pains. Younger children may complain of stomach pain when they are hungry.
- GI Virus (such as Rotavirus). A GI virus can cause stomach cramps as well as vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- Food Poisoning. This causes sudden vomiting and/or diarrhea within hours after eating the bad food. It is caused by toxins from germs growing in foods left out too long. Most often, symptoms go away in less than 24 hours. It often can be treated at home without the need for medical care.
- Constipation. The need to pass a stool may cause cramps in the lower abdomen.
- Strep Throat. A strep throat infection causes 10% of new onset stomach pain with fever.
- Bladder Infection. Bladder infections usually present with painful urination, urgency and bad smelling urine. Sometimes the only symptom is pain in the lower abdomen.
- Appendicitis (Serious). Suspect appendicitis if pain is low on the right side and walks bent over. Other signs are the child won't hop and wants to lie still.
- Intussusception (Serious). Sudden attacks of severe pain that switch back and forth with periods of calm. Caused by one segment of bowel telescoping into a lower piece of bowel. Peak age is 6 months to 2 years.
Causes of Recurrent Stomach Pains
- Stress or Worries. The most common cause of frequent stomach pains is stress. Over 10% of children have a "worried stomach." These children tend to be sensitive and too serious. They often are model children. This can make them more at risk to the normal stresses of life. Examples of these events are changing schools, moving or family fights. The pain is in the pit of the stomach or near the belly button. The pain is real.
- Abdominal Migraine. Attacks of stomach pain and vomiting with sudden onset and offset. Often occur in children who later develop migraine headaches. Strongly genetic.
- Functional Abdominal Pains. Functional means the stomach pains are due to a sensitive GI tract. The GI tract is free of any disease.
- School Avoidance. Stomach pains that mainly occur in the morning on school days. They keep the child from going to school.
- Mild: your child feels pain and tells you about it. But, the pain does not keep your child from any normal activities. School, play and sleep are not changed.
- Moderate: the pain keeps your child from doing some normal activities. It may wake him or her up from sleep.
- Severe: the pain is very bad. It keeps your child from doing all normal activities.