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8/15/22 blog post

when to be concerned about tummy aches

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Whether we like it or not, tummy aches come with the territory of having children. Most of the time, tummy troubles are nothing to worry about and resolve on their own after a short period of time without any special treatment. But believe it or not, a tummy ache, more technically referred to as abdominal pain, is one of the most common reasons parents take their child to the emergency department.

So, if most tummy troubles resolve on their own, how do we know when a child needs medical attention? We asked tummy trouble expert, Liz Yarger, CPNP-PC, pediatric gastroenterology to help us understand when tummy aches are a cause for concern.

what are the common causes for tummy aches/abdominal pain?

Numerous things can cause a child’s stomach to ache, but we can generally attribute the pain to one of six common causes:

  1. Constipation
  2. Infection (UTI, gastroenteritis,etc.)
  3. Foreign body
  4. Menstrual cramps
  5. Surgical  (appendicitis/bowel obstruction/intussusception/testicular torsion)
  6. Anxiety

what can I do to relieve my child’s pain?

As mentioned before, most abdominal pain resolves on its own but there are a few things you can do to help if your child has mild abdominal pain:

  • Allow them time for plenty of rest
  • Encourage your child to drink clear fluids: Pedialyte or water
  • Keep your child on a bland diet
  • Try to pass a bowel movement
  • Always call your child’s doctor before giving any over-the-counter medications

when should I seek medical attention for my child?

It is not always easy to decide when and where to take your child when they are sick or in pain. It’s always a good idea to contact your child’s pediatrician with any concerns you may have regarding your child’s illness or other medical concerns. After all, your child’s pediatrician knows them best!

If any of the following symptoms occur, call your child’s pediatrician:

  • Pain is worse with movement or lasts more than one hour
  • Fever (constant high fever)
  • Blood in the stool
  • Vomiting blood or dark green fluid
  • Swollen or hard abdomen
  • Pain when abdomen is touched
  • Pain/discoloration in the groin or testicles
  • Refusing to eat or drink
  • Pain or burning with urinating

Your child’s pediatrician will guide you on the next steps. If it is recommended for your child to be seen by a specialist in gastroenterology, you can schedule an appointment online.

Elizabeth Yarger, CNP

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