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5 Causes of Abdominal Pain in Children

“My tummy hurts.” Most parents hear that more than once when their children are young. It can be difficult, however, to determine what’s causing the pain, particularly if a child is too young to articulate their discomfort in detail.

Most pediatric abdominal pain passes in a few hours or a few days with nothing other than home care. However, if the pain is intense or reappears frequently, you should book a visit with the caring and attentive pediatrician Smita Tandon, MD, of Dr 2 Kids in Fountain Valley, California.

There’s a wide range of conditions that can create abdominal complaints. Here’s a list of five of the most common causes for tummy pain. 

5 causes of abdominal pain in children

Abdominal pain is roughly divided into two types: generalized pain and localized pain. Generalized pain affects about half of the abdomen or more, while localized pain exists in one spot. This is a distinction older children can make when they respond to “where does it hurt?” Younger children may demonstrate their discomfort through crying, fussiness, poor appetite, or by drawing up their legs in an attempt to relieve the pain. 

1. Gut and bowel issues

Bowel irritation, colic, and constipation can each create discomfort and pain for children, with varying degrees of intensity. As you introduce your child to new foods, they may have gut and bowel issues as their bodies get accustomed to processing these new substances. Pain related to gut problems tends to resolve quickly, but be aware of patterns that might indicate food sensitivities or allergies. 

2. Nervous stomach

As an adult, you likely recognize the way your body responds physically when you’re worried or stressed. However, your child may not make that connection. If they’re worried about something, their stomach, appetite, and mood might be affected. Take time to ask them about things that might be bothering them. There’s a chance that talking about their worries can relieve their sore tummy. 

3. Infections

Bladder infections, kidney infections, and gastroenteritis usually result in abdominal pain. However, infections in other parts of their body can also create tummy troubles. If your child already has an ear infection or a head cold, their tummy pain could be related. 

4. Muscle strain

If abdominal pain follows strenuous play, the discomfort could be due to overworked muscles. A child’s developing body goes through many stages of growth, so their physical attributes are constantly changing. Abdominal pain after an active day should disappear by morning. 

5. Appendicitis

Appendicitis — which is inflammation of the appendix — is one of the more common reasons for a child to have surgery, even though it’s a rare condition for young children. Typically, the pain starts in the center of the abdomen and then shifts to the lower right side. The abdomen also usually becomes tender to the touch.

The condition also usually has secondary symptoms, such as a loss of appetite, fever, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea. Appendicitis is potentially very serious, so immediate medical care is necessary.

If your child has tummy troubles, or if your child needs pediatric care for any other reason, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr 2 Kids today.

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