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Frequent Abdominal Pain in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Frequent abdominal pain is belly pain that occurs at least 3 times over 3 months. Sometimes the pain is linked to foods your child eats. But most of the time the pain cannot be explained.

Sometimes the pain is so bad that your child cannot do his or her normal activities. Stress, anger, or excitement can make the pain worse. Your doctor may use the words "functional abdominal pain syndrome" or "recurrent abdominal pain" to describe the problem.

It can be hard when your child is in pain and the doctor can find no cause, even when tests are done. Even if you cannot make the pain go away, there are some things you can do to help your child manage it.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Keep your child doing normal activities as much as possible. Many children are able to keep their pain under control if they remember it is "just the usual bellyache" when pain starts.
  • Be sure your child has regular meals and snack times.
  • Be sure your child has a regular bedtime so he or she gets enough sleep.
  • Keep a symptom diary. This can help you see if there are events or emotions that make your child's pain worse. Write down what your child ate, drank, or felt before the pain began.
  • Help your child reduce stress. Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques can help.
  • Try cognitive-behavioural therapy. You and your child can work with a counsellor to learn how to do this therapy. It can help your child cope with pain by changing the way he or she thinks. How your child thinks can affect his or her feelings.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has a fever and belly pain.
  • Your child has severe pain that is different from his or her usual belly pain.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child's pattern of pain or discomfort changes.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's belly pain.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.