It is very common for children to have a stomach ache. Children may have a stomach ache for many different reasons, but usually, it is not dangerous. Often stomach pain goes away by itself, but sometimes the child may need treatment.
This text is about children who have a stomach ache. For adolescent adolescents, stomach pain can sometimes have causes that are more common in adults.
Here you can read about stomach pain in adults.
Children cannot always say where it hurts
It can be difficult for a toddler to feel and describe exactly where in the stomach the pain comes from.
Children up to about three years of age often point to the stomach if you ask where they are in pain, even if the pain comes from some other part of the body. Older children may also have difficulty saying where it hurts. Up to the age of six or seven, children almost always point to the belly of the navel when you ask where it hurts. With increasing age, the child can better describe the pain and can indicate if it hurts more on the right or left side, or if the pain is high or low.
When and where should I seek care?
Most children who get stomach upset without other symptoms do not need to seek care. The trouble usually goes by itself.
If a child has had a problem for a long time or if the problems come back, contact a health care center or pediatrician.
If it is a weekend, you can wait until it is every day. You can contact many receptions by logging in.
If it’s in a hurry
If a child has one or more of the following problems, immediately contact a health care center or on-call reception.
- The child has both stomach pain and other symptoms, such as fever, swelling of the groin, pain in the scrotum, black and lose poop or poop containing fresh blood, more than just occasional streaks.
- The baby has a stomach ache that is clearly swollen, and neither poop nor gases come out.
- The child is tired and brought on by the pain.
- Pain that does not go over becomes more severe, is very intense or seems to move towards one side.
- The child is in pain at clear intervals.
- The baby is very sore on one side of the stomach.
- The child has abdominal pain and burning when they kiss.
If it is closed at the health center or on-call reception, seek care at an emergency room.
The child may need to be assessed and examined by a doctor to find out why they are in pain and how the problems can best be treated.
It is not always easy for the doctor to determine the cause of the pain. It is therefore important to describe the symptoms as carefully as possible. Usually, it is precisely the description of the trouble that gives the most important clues.
Prepare the child or yourself using the following questions:
- How did the trouble start and has it gotten better or worse since then?
- Exactly where does it hurt? Always in the same place?
- How long has it been going on?
- Exactly where does it hurt? Always in the same place?
- Are there other symptoms at the same time?
- When does it hurt? Is it mostly in the evening, in the middle of the night, at school, on weekends?
- Does it hurt all the time or does the pain come at intervals?
- What improves and worsens the hassles? Food? Going to the toilet? To lie still or to think of something else?
- Does anyone in the family have or have had similar symptoms?
- Any treatments that have been tried and worked or not worked?
It is important to include information on how the child has grown and developed for the visit to the doctor. Therefore, bring your health care from the child care center or from the school health care if your child is of school age.
The doctor examines the stomach and takes samples
The doctor also examines the child by, among other things, feeling the stomach. Often, the child may pass urine, stool and blood tests. Sometimes the child may also need to be examined by ultrasound or x-ray. The child may sometimes need to stay in the hospital for doctors to monitor how the child is feeling and can safely rule out certain causes for it to hurt.
Children should be able to participate
There is no age limit for when a child can have an influence over their care. The child’s ability to participate in related to the child’s maturity.
The older the child, the more important it is for them to be involved in their care. In order to be active in the care and to make decisions, it is important that you as an adult and the child understand the information you receive from the care staff.
You have the opportunity to interpret other languages. You also have the option of interpreting assistance if, for example, one of you has a hearing impairment.
Read more about the rights of children and guardians in care.
What can stomach pain be?
Stomach pain can have many different causes. In some conditions, the pain may come suddenly. Sometimes it can be muddy and long-lasting. The pain can also come and go at intervals.
Sometimes, stomach pain can be a symptom of the child feeling stress or worry.
Here is a list in alphabetical order of more or less common causes of stomach pain in children.
Appendicitis usually starts with the child having less appetite than usual and sometimes feeling unwell. The baby often aches with soreness around the navel, and sometimes the soreness can move to the right lower part of the abdomen where appendicitis sits. The child often gets a little higher body temperature, up to 38-38.5 degrees.
Similar disorders occur in the so-called glandular or glandular abdomen.
Functional gastrointestinal disorders
The most common cause of prolonged and recurrent stomach pain is called functional gastrointestinal disorders. Another term for some of these disorders is irritable bowel disease, IBS.
The problems can vary, but usually, they last for longer than two months and come at least once a week. Other symptoms may include acid reflux, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea. Sometimes the hassles can increase during periods of stress.
In preschool children, it is not uncommon for a cold to cause stomach pain. This is probably due to the fact that the infection settles in parts of the intestinal mucosa and causes the intestines to move worse than usual and that more gases are formed.
Food allergy – food allergy
A child who is allergic to any substance contained in foods can react in many different ways. The usual thing is that the child gets a rash or eczema. Sometimes itching, irritation of the mouth, swelling of the lips and throat. Also stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation can be symptoms of food allergy.
Children with constipation are difficult to poop. The buoy is hard and it can hurt to poop. The stomach is often a little stretched by gases and intestinal contents that cannot pass out, and it hurts. This is one of the most common causes of stomach pain in both small and large children.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
It is common for infants to vomit. But when a child with copious, prolonged vomiting gets stomach upset or does not gain weight, it can be called gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is because the stomach juice comes up in the esophagus more often or for longer than usual. The problems, for example, usually decrease when the infant switches to food with a firmer consistency.
Gluten intolerance or celiac disease means that the child does not tolerate the protein gluten found in cereal wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten intolerance can cause many different symptoms, but many have few symptoms. Common symptoms in children are poorer appetite than usual, fatigue, headache and stomach pain with or without constipation or diarrhea.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Crohn’s disease and ulcer active colitis belong to a group of diseases with the collective name inflammatory bowel disease. Common symptoms are diarrhea with or without blood in the pelvis, stomach pain, weight loss, and fatigue. Pain in the joints or head pain may occur. Inflammatory bowel disease can occur in forests. This means that the symptoms can increase and decrease in periods.
Invagination is an unusual condition that can occur in smaller children, up to 2-3 years of age. In the case of invagination, a part of the intestine has crept into the subsequent part and there is a risk of stopping in the intestine.
The child usually gets abdominal pain suddenly, becomes pale and quiet, and sometimes gets screaming attacks. The pain comes and goes in intervals. The time between the pain attacks is getting shorter until the child is in pain all the time. Intestinal failure causes the child to feel ill and vomit, and that neither poop nor gas can come out.
It is unusual, but the risk of invagination may increase some of the rotavirus virus vaccines.
Glandular or glandular is thought to be due to the fact that swollen lymph nodes in the stomach cause the bowel to move worse than usual. It causes pain when the gut does not pass through the intestine. Often, the gland is due to a viral infection, which at the same time can cause more or less high fever. Sometimes the problems of the gland after an infection can be quite prolonged.
The gland can be mistaken for appendicitis.
Many children of extra-Nordic origin develop lactose intolerance from early school age onward. That means the gut bacteria ferment milk sugar, lactose, in the diet. It gives rise to gases and diarrhea, which can lead to stomach pain.
Groin hernia in children is usually congenital and is then seen as a rounded bulge at the groin or in the scrotum. Groin fracture is due to a part of the peritoneum and intestine being pushed through the abdominal wall so that a sac is formed under the skin.
Most children who have groin hernias have no problems. But part of the gut may get trapped in the hernia. It is called squeezed groin and usually leads to stomach pain, groin pain or scrotum.
Children who have stomach ailments feel sick, vomit, sometimes have stomach aches and almost always diarrhea. The child often has a fever, is tired and powerless. Stomach illness is usually caused by a virus, or in rare cases by bacteria or parasites.
Stomach illness usually goes on for a few days. It is important that children who vomit or have diarrhea get fluid. This is especially important when it comes to small children under one year, who become easily dehydrated.
Infants up to 3-6 months of age can be bothered by stomach discomfort for shorter or longer periods. It is called infant colic. The child screams intensely and can be almost inconsolable for several hours at a time. Often the child screams in the afternoons and evenings in periods that are repeated in a clear pattern. The child can also pull his knees up to his stomach, tighten his legs and have gases that sound in his stomach.
Testicular torsion or testicular torsion causes severe pain in the scrotum or lower abdomen on the right or left side. The scrotum becomes swollen and red and a testicle becomes sore. Testicle twisting is rare, but it is important to seek care directly so that the testicle is not damaged.
Read more about pain in the scrotum before puberty.
In the case of urinary tract infection, it often fades when the baby pauses. The baby kisses more often than usual, can pee and often get a stomach ache. There may be some blood in the kiss, which may smell bad.
Untreated urinary tract infection can develop into renal pelvic inflammation or pyelonephritis. Then the child may have stomach pain that radiates to the right or left side, fever, and vomiting.