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Stomach Pain in Children: Cause, Symptom, Prevention & Treatment

stomach pain in child

Navigating stomach pain in children can be a tricky ordeal, with causes ranging from the common to potentially severe. From stomach bugs to stress and underlying health issues, understanding the reasons behind your child’s discomfort is essential.

In most cases, abdominal pain is temporary and resolves with minimal intervention. However, when it becomes recurrent or the cause remains elusive, addressing the pain can pose a challenge, necessitating a closer look into potential infections, food-related issues, or other underlying concerns for effective prevention and treatment.

What Are the Symptoms of Stomach Pain in Children?

Stomach pain in children can manifest in various ways, and symptoms may vary based on the underlying cause. Common symptoms include:

  1. Location of pain: Children may point to different areas of the abdomen where they feel discomfort.
  2. Intensity: Pain can range from mild to severe, influencing a child’s daily activities.
  3. Duration: Persistent or recurrent pain lasting for an extended period may be a concern.
  4. Accompanying symptoms: Additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, fever, or changes in appetite.
  5. Behavioural changes: Irritability, lethargy, or mood changes may indicate underlying issues.
  6. Frequency: Frequent complaints of stomach pain may warrant attention.

It’s essential to observe these symptoms, communicate with the child, and consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and management.

You Can Also Read: Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

What Are the Reasons Behind Children’s Stomach Pain?

Abdominal pain in children can stem from various causes, ranging from mild to severe. Understanding the type of pain and accompanying symptoms is crucial for proper evaluation.

Common causes and their symptoms include: 

  • Indigestion and gas (burping, bloating, reflux, nausea, flatulence)
  • Constipation (lower abdominal cramping, bloating, infrequent bowel movements)
  • Gastroenteritis and food poisoning (vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, fever, dehydration)
  • Food intolerance (irritability, acid reflux, bloating, heartburn, vomiting, diarrhoea)
  • Stress (vague abdominal discomfort, nausea, headache, changes in behaviour)
  • Menstrual pain (lower abdominal cramping, breast tenderness, headache, nausea, diarrhoea)
  • Groin pain (stabbing pain, swelling, bruising, trouble walking)

Prompt medical attention is crucial, especially for severe cases such as:

  • Appendicitis (worsening pain, no appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal swelling). It appears as a sudden pain starting around the belly button, which moves to the lower right quadrant.
  • Intestinal obstruction (cramping pain, nausea, vomiting bile, blood in stool). It progresses rapidly and can be fatal within 2 to 5 days.
  • Urinary tract infection (sharp or dull pain in the lower abdomen, fever, blood in urine, flank pain, urgent need to urinate and foul-smelling urine).
  • Infection (vague or generalised pain, fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache).
  • Anaphylaxis (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, hives, difficulty breathing). It can escalate rapidly, so call an ambulance in case of severe symptoms.
  • Intestinal problems or hernia (severe pain, bulge or swelling in the groin). Medical evaluation is required if the pain worsens with movement.

Chronic issues may involve intestinal conditions, IBD (Inflammatory bowel disease), or functional origin, demanding a paediatrician’s comprehensive assessment. Other potential causes include IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. 

What is the Treatment for Stomach Pain in Children?

The underlying reason for children’s stomach aches determines the course of treatment. Here are the general guidelines and interventions:

Indigestion and Gas

  • Encourage slow eating, and avoiding fatty or acidic foods.
  • Promote regular meals and hydration.
  • Over-the-counter antacids may help.


  • Increase fibre in the diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Ensure an adequate intake of fluids.
  • Encourage regular physical activity.
  • Over-the-counter stool softeners or laxatives may be used under medical guidance.

Gastroenteritis and Food Poisoning

  • Maintain hydration with clear fluids.
  • Encourage a bland diet (e.g., rice, bananas and toast).
  • Seek medical attention if severe symptoms persist.

Food Intolerance

  • Identify and eliminate trigger foods.
  • Consider keeping a food diary.
  • Use antacids or other medications under medical guidance.


  • Provide emotional support.
  • Encourage stress-reducing activities.
  • Consider counselling or therapy if stress is persistent.

Menstrual pain

  • Provide pain relief with medication.
  • Encourage rest and a heating pad for comfort.

Groin pain

  • Rest and avoid activities that exacerbate pain.
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling.
  • Pain relievers may be used under medical guidance.

For more severe cases requiring immediate attention:

  • Appendicitis: Emergency surgery is done to remove the inflamed appendix.
  • Intestinal obstruction: Hospitalisation and treatment is recommended to relieve the obstruction, which may include surgery.
  • Urinary tract infection: Antibiotics are prescribed by a doctor for this infection.
  • Infection: Treatment depends on the specific infection and may include antibiotics.
  • Anaphylaxis: Epinephrine is administered immediately, followed by emergency medical attention.
  • Intestinal problems (Hernia): Surgery is done to repair the hernia.

Always consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan based on the child’s specific condition.

You Can Also Read:  Lactose Intolerance & Its Possible Treatment

What Are the Preventive Measures for Childhood Stomach Pain? 

Preventive measures for childhood stomach pain involve promoting overall health and addressing specific risk factors. Here are some general guidelines:

Healthy Diet

  • Promote a healthy, well-balanced diet that is high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
  • Limit fatty, greasy, and acidic foods.
  • Ensure adequate fibre intake to prevent constipation.


  • Encourage regular water intake to prevent dehydration.
  • Limit sugary and caffeinated beverages.

Regular Physical Activity

  • Promote regular exercise to support digestive health.
  • Physical activity can help prevent constipation and promote overall well-being.

Stress Management

  • Instruct students on stress-reduction methods including mindfulness and deep breathing.
  • Foster open communication to address emotional concerns.

Regular Meals

  • Establish regular meal times to promote a consistent eating schedule.
  • Discourage excessive snacking, especially on unhealthy foods.

Proper Chewing Habits

  • Encourage children to chew food thoroughly to aid digestion and prevent indigestion.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

  • Support healthy growth and development through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • See a medical expert for advice on managing your weight.

Good Hygiene Practices

  • Emphasise the importance of handwashing to prevent infections and foodborne illnesses.

Food Allergy Management

  • Identify and manage any food allergies promptly.
  • Educate caregivers, teachers, and others about the child’s specific dietary needs.

Regular Health Check-ups

  • Schedule regular check-ups with a paediatrician to monitor overall health.
  • Address any concerns or symptoms promptly.

Proper Toilet Habits

  • Educate children on the importance of regular bowel movements.
  • Ensure access to clean and comfortable bathroom facilities.


  • Keep vaccinations up to date to prevent infections that can cause stomach issues.

Allergen Avoidance

  • Identify and avoid potential food triggers that may cause intolerance or allergies.

It’s essential to tailor preventive measures based on the child’s individual health needs and any specific conditions they may have. Regular communication with healthcare professionals can help guide and optimise preventive strategies.

When Should I See a Doctor if My Child Has Stomach Pain?

Mild stomach aches in children might not be alarming, but specific signs call for medical attention. Assess your child’s condition based on:

  1. Intensity: Severe or inconsolable pain, even intermittently, should be examined.
  2. Location: Lower right abdominal pain could signal appendicitis, especially if around the belly button.
  3. Vomiting: Watch for unusual colours like blood or green vomit, indicating potential issues.
  4. Stool: Blood in the stool alongside abdominal pain may suggest problems requiring medical attention.
  5. Urine: Painful urination could indicate a UTI, and needing antibiotics.
  6. Allergy Signs: Wheezing, swelling, or hives may signal anaphylaxis, requiring immediate attention.
  7. Other Signs: Weight loss, lethargy, signs of infection, or unusual complaints warrant prompt medical consultation.


There will come a time when your child will feel pain in the vicinity of their stomach. If your child’s vomiting, fever, nausea, or other symptoms of an allergic response are present along with apparent severe stomach discomfort, then It is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced gastroenterologist. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition. 

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult a gastroenterologist, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment at the CK Birla Hospital.


How Can Parents Prevent Stomach Pain in Their Kids?

Parents can prevent kids’ stomach pain by promoting a balanced diet, ensuring regular bowel movements, fostering good hygiene practices, addressing stress, and promptly addressing any signs of discomfort or illness.

Are There Specific Foods That Contribute to Stomach Pain in Children?

Certain foods like fatty, greasy, or acidic ones can contribute to stomach pain in children. Food intolerances to items like milk, chocolate, or additives may also trigger discomfort.

What Home Remedies Can Be Used to Soothe a Child’s Stomach Ache?

To soothe a child’s stomach ache, consider offering bland foods, clear fluids, and ginger tea. Warm compresses on the abdomen, adequate rest, and avoiding trigger foods can also help alleviate discomfort.

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