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Anatomy - Gastrointestinal
|When to Call Your Doctor|
|Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If|
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
|Parent Care at Home If|
|HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MILD ABDOMINAL PAIN|
- A mild stomachache can be caused by something as simple as gas pains or overeating.
- Sometimes a stomachache signals the onset of a vomiting or diarrhea illness from a virus (gastroenteritis).
- Watching your child for 2 hours will usually tell you the cause.
- Rest: Encourage your child to lie down and rest until feeling better.
- Clear Fluids: Offer clear fluids only (e.g., water, flat soft drinks or half-strength Gatorade). For mild pain, offer a regular diet.
- Prepare for Vomiting: Keep a vomiting pan handy. Younger children often refer to nausea as a "stomachache".
- Pass a Stool:
- Encourage sitting on the toilet and trying to pass a stool.
- This may relieve pain if it is due to constipation or impending diarrhea.
- Note: For constipation, applying a warm wet cotton ball may relax the anus and help release a stool.
- Avoid Medicines: Any drug (especially ibuprofen) could irritate the stomach lining and make the pain worse. Do not give any pain medicines or laxatives for stomach cramps. For fever over 102° F (39° C), acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be given.
- Expected Course: With harmless causes, the pain is usually better or resolved in 2 hours. With gastroenteritis (stomach flu), belly cramps may precede each bout of vomiting or diarrhea and last several days. With serious causes (such as appendicitis), the pain worsens and becomes constant.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Pain becomes severe
- Constant pain present over 2 hours
- Mild pain that comes and goes present over 24 hours
- Your child becomes worse
- Extra Care Advice: Worried Stomach
- Help your child talk about events that trigger the abdominal pain and how to cope with these triggers next time.
- Help your child worry less about things he or she can't control.
- Teach your child to use relaxation exercises (relaxing every muscle in the body) to treat the pain. Lie down in a quiet place; take deep-slow breaths; and think about something pleasant. Listening to CDs or audiotapes that teach relaxation might help.
- Teach your child the importance of getting adequate sleep.
- Make sure that your child doesn't miss any school because of stomachaches. Stressed children have a tendency to want to stay home when the going gets rough.
- Caution: Your child should have a complete medical checkup before you conclude that recurrent stomachaches are due to worrying too much.
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 11/1/2011
Last Revised: 4/6/2012
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.