Abdominal Pain in Children (cont.)
Abdominal Pain in Children
A parent or caregiver must be observant and should contact appropriate help at the appropriate time. Monitor a child especially closely during recovery until the child is better. A teenager may not want to be bothered but still should be monitored.
- Rest: A child with active abdominal pain often will benefit from resting. Lying face down may help relieve gas pain, but the optimal position
is that which feels best to the child.
- Diet: People can survive a long time without solid food but need to keep up on liquids.
Dehydration takes time to develop, so forcing fluids is not always necessary. A child who is actively vomiting will not be able to hold down a large amount of liquid. Doctors recommend giving small amounts (1-2 ounces) at a time (every 15-20 minutes typically) until the child can handle more.
Avoid tinted, carbonated, caffeinated, fatty, or excessively salty or sugary
liquids (such as dark colas, tea, coffee, milk, sports drinks, and fruit
- Fluids to give: Do not give water or boiled milk to infants, because it can cause serious problems with the salt content of their bodies. Also, milk is harder for a sick
stomach to digest. Doctors recommend various dehydration liquids. For example, Pedialyte can be bought over-the-counter without a prescription. Try to get the infant back on the usual feedings as soon as possible. Good choices for older children include ginger ale or simple soup broth. Avoid milk, fruit juices, heavily carbonated beverages, coffee, and sports drinks (such as Gatorade) in patients with diarrhea, since the
stomach may not tolerate these fluids. If an older child asks for soft drinks, avoid those with caffeine. Shaking the fizz out of carbonated beverages may make them more tolerable for an ill child.
- Solid foods: The child will let you know when it is time to get back on solid food. Start them slowly, first try toast or crackers then advance to regular foods as they tolerate the feedings. Banana, apple sauce,
plain toast, or cooked rice are also suitable foods for introduction after a full liquid diet.
- Medications: You can use acetaminophen (Aspirin Free, Children's Silapap, Panadol, Liquiprin, or Tylenol) to control fever. Most doctors still avoid
aspirin in children. Avoid antibiotics unless prescribed by a doctor. Physicians do not recommend herbal medicines or other home remedies. If you use them and later see a physician, be sure to
tell the physician exactly what you gave the child, because such material could affect the treatment recommendations.
Abdominal Pain in Children Medical Treatment
Treatment will be prescribed according to the history, physical examination, test results, and the individual child. Treatment may be as simple as sending the child home with instructions for rest, encouraging fluids, and eating a bland diet. For serious conditions, treatment can be as extensive as hospital admission and surgery.
Abdominal Pain in Children Prognosis
The prognosis for abdominal pain in children is as diverse as the causes themselves. Abdominal pain
left identified and treated early carries a good prognosis overall; however, pain undiagnosed and untreated can be life-threatening. Consequently, early in the child's illness, a parent or caregiver should work with the pediatrician and hospital to ensure the child receives appropriate care.
Medically reviewed by Margaret Walsh, MD; American Board of Pediatrics
UpToDate. Causes of acute abdominal pain in children and adolescents.
UpToDate. Patient information: Chronic abdominal pain in children and adolescents (Beyond the Basics).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/28/2016
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