What is Abdominal Pain in Children?

Abdominal Pain in Children

Getting Started

Your child may complain of a bellyache (abdominal pain) from time to time.

Most of the time, children with mild abdominal pain are not seriously ill; the symptoms go away in a day or two and can be managed at home. However, if your child has severe abdominal pain or has a bellyache along with frequent vomiting, you should contact your child's pediatrician. Abdominal pain that seems to be getting worse or lasting longer than expected also should be discussed with your doctor.

Answering the questions in this health decision guide will help you understand more about what usually causes children to have abdominal pain, and help you know when you should contact your pediatrician for medical care. Please note, this guide is not meant to take the place of a visit to your pediatrician's office.

Children under the age of two can't always communicate what they are feeling, making it harder to figure out what's going on with them.

If your child is under two years of age, call your doctor for advice.

Yes, my child is at least two years old.Abdominal Pain in Children

If your child has certain symptoms along with the abdominal pain, it could mean that he has a more serious illness.

Is your child vomiting or feeling nauseated?

Yes, my child is vomiting or nauseated.Abdominal Pain in Children

Your child has a bellyache and is vomiting.

When your child vomits, is it a greenish-yellow color, does it contain any blood, or does it look like coffee grounds?

Yes, that describes my child's vomit.Abdominal Pain in Children

Seek emergency medical care immediately. Your child may have abdominal pain and vomiting because of a serious problem with his intestines.

Click here to learn about bowel obstruction.



No, that does not describe my child's vomit.Abdominal Pain in Children

You have said that your child is vomiting or nauseated but the vomit is not greenish-yellow, does not have blood in it, or look like coffee grounds.

Do any of the following statements describe your child?

  • He has a high fever (102 F/39 C or higher).

  • He says that the abdominal pain is very bad.

  • The pain seems to be located in the lower-right part of his abdomen.

  • His abdominal pain has been constant, and has lasted for at least three hours.

  • His belly is swollen or hard.

  • He is vomiting a lot, but it doesn't make him feel better.

  • There is blood in his stool.

  • His scrotum or groin area is swollen (for girls, the groin area is swollen).

Yes, at least one of those statements describes my child.Abdominal Pain in Children

Call for emergency medical care immediately. Your child may have a serious problem with his abdomen.

Click here to learn about appendicitis.

Click here to learn about bowel obstruction.

Click here to learn about testicular torsion.



No, none of those statements describe my child.Abdominal Pain in Children Right Side

Your child has abdominal pain, but does not have high fever, severe pain, pain in the lower right side, blood in the stool, or swelling of the belly, groin or scrotum.

There is still some concern about a serious medical disorder.

Sometimes abdominal pain is a sign of a problem with the kidneys or bladder (urinary tract).

Do any of these statements describe your child?

  • He says it hurts when he urinates.

  • He is urinating more frequently than usual.

  • He has wet the bed recently, which is very unusual for him.

  • His urine smells strong, funny, or bad.

  • His urine looks pink or red.

  • He has pain right below his belly button or in his lower back.

Yes, at least one of these statements describes my child.Abdominal Pain in Children

Call your pediatrician. Your child's abdominal pain may be caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI).



No, this doesn't describe my child.Abdominal Pain in Children

Since none of those statements describe your child's condition, it is unlikely that he has a urinary tract infection.

Abdominal pain with cough and fever could be just the flu or a bad cold, or possibly pneumonia.

In addition to the abdominal pain, does your child have a cough and fever?

Yes, my child has abdominal pain with cough and fever.Abdominal Pain in Children

Call your pediatrician. Abdominal pain with cough and fever could be caused by pneumonia, an infection in the lungs.

Click here to learn about pneumonia.



No, my child does not have cough and fever.Abdominal Pain in Children

Pneumonia is less likely.

A stomach or intestinal infection called gastroenteritis is a common cause of abdominal pain. Usually diarrhea also is present.

Does your child have diarrhea?

Yes, my child has diarrhea.

No, my child does not have diarrhea.






No, my child is not vomiting or nauseated.Abdominal Pain in Children- Right Hand Side

Your child has abdominal pain but is not vomiting or nauseous.

Do any of the following statements describe your child?

  • He has had a constant pain for at least three hours.

  • The lower right-side of his belly hurts.

  • He has severe pain in his abdomen.

  • His pain doesn't go away after he vomits or has a bout of diarrhea.

  • His abdomen is hard or swollen.

  • He has a high fever (102 F/39 C or higher).

  • There is blood in his stool.

  • There is swelling in his testicles or scrotum. (If your child is a girl, her groin would be swollen.)

Yes, at least one of those statements describes my child.Abdominal Pain in Children

Call for emergency medical care immediately. Your child may have a serious problem with his abdomen.

Click here to learn about appendicitis.

Click here to learn about bowel obstruction.

Click here to learn about testicular torsion.



No, none of those statements describe my child.Abdominal Pain in Children Right Side

Your child has abdominal pain, but does not have high fever, severe pain, pain in the lower right side, blood in the stool, or swelling of the belly, groin or scrotum.

There is still some concern about a serious medical disorder.

Sometimes abdominal pain is a sign of a problem with the kidneys or bladder (urinary tract).

Do any of these statements describe your child?

  • He says it hurts when he urinates.

  • He is urinating more frequently than usual.

  • He has wet the bed recently, which is very unusual for him.

  • His urine smells strong, funny, or bad.

  • His urine looks pink or red.

  • He has pain right below his belly button or in his lower back.

Yes, at least one of these statements describes my child.Abdominal Pain in Children

Call your pediatrician. Your child's abdominal pain may be caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI).



No, this doesn't describe my child.Abdominal Pain in Children

Since none of those statements describe your child's condition, it is unlikely that he has a urinary tract infection.

Abdominal pain with cough and fever could be just the flu or a bad cold, or possibly pneumonia.

In addition to the abdominal pain, does your child have a cough and fever?

Yes, my child has abdominal pain with cough and fever.Abdominal Pain in Children

Call your pediatrician. Abdominal pain with cough and fever could be caused by pneumonia, an infection in the lungs.

Click here to learn about pneumonia.



No, my child does not have cough and fever.Abdominal Pain in Children

Pneumonia is less likely.

A stomach or intestinal infection called gastroenteritis is a common cause of abdominal pain. Usually diarrhea also is present.

Does your child have diarrhea?

Yes, my child has diarrhea.

No, my child does not have diarrhea.






No, my child is not two years old yet.Abdominal Pain in Children

Call your doctor for advice. Your child may be too young to communicate how he is really feeling.



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