Abdominal pain is a common complaint in children. Older children may be able to say they have a sore tummy, whereas younger children with abdominal pain may cry, moan, or simply become quiet and pale. Some children complain of abdominal pain frequently, while for others it is unusual and therefore may be of more concern. The presence of associated symptoms such as a vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, rash, or pain while urinating may be important clues as to the cause.
There are many possible causes of abdominal pain in children. Some of the more common medical causes include constipation, urinary tract infections, and gastroenteritis. Appendicitis causes pain that usually begins around the belly button, before becoming more severe and moving to the lower right side of the tummy. Children with appendicitis often have a low-grade temperature and vomiting. Emotional problems frequently lead children to complain of a tummy ache, which may come and go with stresses.
If your child is not listless or vomiting, and is still eating well, the problem is probably a minor one and will pass with a little TLC. However if your child looks ill, or the pain persists for several hours, is severe enough to make the child lie down, or has any of the associated symptoms listed above, see your doctor immediately.
Reviewed and Edited by Dr Daryl Efron, Consultant Paediatrician, Royal Children's Hospital. Melbourne - Disclaimer