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Abdominal Pain with Unknown Cause, Male (Infant/Toddler)

Abdominal (stomach) pain is common in children. But children often don't complain of pain because they don't have the words to describe what is wrong. They also have trouble pinpointing where it hurts. Often, they just feel bad, or don't want to eat. This can make abdominal pain hard to diagnose in young children. Also, abdominal symptoms are associated with many problems. Most of the time, the cause of abdominal pain in children is not serious and will go away.

Over the next few days, abdominal pain may come and go or be continuous. It may be hard to decide whether your child has pain or is feeling something else. Your child may be nauseous and vomit, have constipation, diarrhea, or fever. Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether your child feels nauseous because they just feel bad and don't associate that feeling with nausea. The child may constantly touch his or her stomach or indicate pain when the stomach is touched.

Abdominal pain may continue even when being treated correctly. Sometimes the cause can become clearer over the next few days and may require further or different treatment. Additional tests or medicines may be needed.

Home care

Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine for pain and symptoms of infection. Follow the instructions for giving these medicines to your child.

General care

  • Comfort your child as needed.

  • Try to find positions that ease your child’s discomfort. A small pillow placed on the abdomen may help provide pain relief.

  • Distraction may also help. Some children may be soothed by listening to music or having someone read to them.

Diet

  • Don't force your child to eat, especially if he or she is having pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.

  • Water is important to prevent dehydration. Soup, frozen ice pops, and oral rehydration solution will help. Give liquids a small amount at a time. Don't let your child guzzle it down.

  • Don't give your child fatty, greasy, spicy, or fried foods.

  • Don't give your child dairy products if he has diarrhea.

  • Don't let your child eat large amounts of food at a time, even if they are hungry. Wait a few minutes between bites, and offer more if tolerated.

  • Follow any dietary instructions provided by your healthcare provider. Ask for the instructions in writing if you are worried you won't remember the information.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider, or as advised. If tests or studies were done, they will be reviewed by a specialist. You will be notified of any new findings that may affect your child’s care.

Special notes to parents

Keep a record of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or fever. Identify what the child was doing when the symptoms started, such as eating or going to the bathroom. This may help your healthcare provider make a diagnosis.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Trouble arousing

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Seizure

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the healthcare provider

  • Inconsolable crying or irritability

  • Continuing symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, bleeding, painful or bloody urination, nausea and vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea

  • Abdominal swelling or the abdominal wall becomes rigid and hard

  • There is a recent history of injury or trauma to the belly

  • Your child recently had surgery and is having any symptoms

  • Painful, swollen, or inflamed scrotum

  • Not urinating or having wet diapers

Online Medical Reviewer: Jen Lehrer MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2019
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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