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Abdominal Pain in Children: Care Instructions

Picture of the abdominal regions in a child

Your Care Instructions

Abdominal pain has many possible causes. Some are not serious and get better on their own in a few days. Others need more testing and treatment. If your child's belly pain continues or gets worse, he or she may need more tests to find out what is wrong.

Most cases of abdominal pain in children are caused by minor problems, such as stomach flu or constipation. Home treatment often is all that is needed to relieve them.

Your doctor may have recommended a follow-up visit in the next 8 to 12 hours. Do not ignore new symptoms, such as fever, nausea and vomiting, urination problems, or pain that gets worse. These may be signs of a more serious problem.

The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

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?

  • Your child should rest until he or she feels better.
  • Give your child lots of fluids, enough so that the urine is light yellow or clear like water. This is very important if your child is vomiting or has diarrhea. Give your child sips of water or drinks such as Pedialyte or Gastrolyte. These drinks contain a mix of salt, sugar, and minerals. You can buy them at drugstores or grocery stores. Give these drinks as long as your child is throwing up or has diarrhea. Do not use them as the only source of liquids or food for more than 12 to 24 hours.
  • Feed your child mild foods, such as rice, dry toast or crackers, bananas, and applesauce. Try feeding your child several small meals instead of 2 or 3 large ones.
  • Do not give your child spicy foods, fruits other than bananas or applesauce, or drinks that contain caffeine until 48 hours after all your child's symptoms have gone away.
  • Do not feed your child foods that are high in fat.
  • Have your child take medicines exactly as directed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • Do not give your child aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). These can cause stomach upset.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child vomits blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • Your child's stools are maroon or very bloody.

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

  • Your child has new belly pain or his or her pain gets worse.
  • Your child's pain becomes focused in one area of his or her belly.
  • Your child has a new or higher fever.
  • Your child's stools are black and look like tar or have streaks of blood.
  • Your child has new or worse diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Your child has symptoms of a urinary tract infection. These may include:
    • Pain when he or she urinates.
    • Urinating more often than usual.
    • Blood in his or her urine.

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

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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.