A to Z Symptom: Abdominal Pain
May also be called: Stomachache; Bellyache
Almost everyone has had abdominal pain at some point. While a stomachache can be a symptom of many conditions, most do not have a serious cause.
More to Know
The amount of belly pain someone has does not always match the seriousness of the problem causing it. Sometimes very simple problems like gas or constipation can make a person very uncomfortable.
An infection (like a bout of "stomach flu" or "food poisoning") can cause stomach pain, as can problems like appendicitis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Abdominal pain also can be a symptom of a food-related problem like celiac disease (a reaction to proteins in certain grains), food allergies, or a food intolerance.
Stress also is a common cause of abdominal pain. In those cases, counseling to manage stress can be helpful.
In some cases, abdominal pain can be caused by a problem in another part of the body (like the chest).
Treatment, if needed, will depend on the cause of the abdominal pain. Kids should not be given laxatives, antacids, or other medicines unless recommended by a doctor.
Keep in Mind
While many cases of abdominal pain are minor, some can have a more serious cause, like appendicitis. So call your doctor if the pain is very strong, is accompanied by repeated vomiting, or the discomfort gets worse over time or doesn't go away.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) works on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies, including all those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Celiac Disease Foundation The Celiac Disease Foundation provides support, information and assistance to people affected by celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. The site provides information on celiac disease and helps people locate support groups.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|Children's Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation (CDHNF) The CDHNF website provides information on gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).|
|E. Coli Undercooked burgers and unwashed produce are among the foods that can harbor E. coli bacteria and lead to infection marked by severe diarrhea. Here's how to protect your family.|
|Inflammatory Bowel Disease Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to two chronic diseases that cause intestinal inflammation: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Although they have features in common, there are some important differences.|
|Ultrasound: Abdomen Doctors order abdominal ultrasounds when they're concerned about symptoms such as abdominal pain, repeated vomiting, abnormal liver or kidney function tests, or a swollen belly.|
|X-Ray Exam: Abdomen An abdominal X-ray can help find the cause of many abdominal problems, such as pain, kidney stones, intestinal blockage, a hole in the intestine, or an abdominal mass such as a tumor.|
|Appendicitis Appendicitis requires immediate medical attention, so it's important to know its symptoms. The earlier it's caught, the easier it will be to treat.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2016 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com