Your child is clutching her tummy, wailing in agony. You feel her forehead, and it is burning up. It could just be a simple infection, such as the so-called stomach flu. The cause of her pain and fever could also be something more serious, such as appendicitis or diverticulitis. Fever and stomach pain together can also point to certain chronic conditions.
You or your child may experience stomach pains and a fever when you’re suffering from an unpleasant infection, such as viral gastroenteritis. While commonly called the stomach flu, viral gastroenteritis isn’t actually caused by influenza. The fever will be low, and the stomach pains may be accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea or both. Another cause of stomach pain and fever is pancreatitis, which occurs when the pancreas, the gland responsible for insulin production, becomes inflamed. The pain from pancreatitis is usually more intense than from the regular stomach flu, according to KidsHealth. The condition usually clears up on its own after a few days.
Cause for Concern
In some cases, intense pain in the stomach and abdominal area and a fever are related to serious illnesses that should be treated by a doctor. Some children with stomach pain and fever may have appendicitis, which is an inflammation of the appendix. If left untreated, the appendix can burst, spreading bacteria throughout the body. When someone has appendicitis, he usually experiences a great deal of pain on the lower right side of his abdomen, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website. Intussusception, a type of bowel obstruction that causes the intestine to slide over itself, is another concerning condition that causes pain and fever. It usually occurs in children under age 2.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
In some cases, stomach pain and fever can result from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease, which affects the small intestine and parts of the large intestine, and colitis, which affects the colon. People with either colitis or Crohn’s may experience frequent diarrhea or constipation. Since the the body isn’t able to absorb nutrients properly, people with inflammatory bowel disease also have fever, poor growth and fatigue, according to KidsHealth.
Treatment for stomach pain and fever depends on the cause. If it is just a simple stomach virus, your child will benefit from resting and not eating for a while. Ice chips, small sips of water or carbonated drinks, such as ginger ale, may also soothe her stomach pain. Fever reducers may make the stomach pain worse, so MayoClinic.com recommends avoiding their use, unless necessary. In the case of inflammatory bowel disease, certain medications may help reduce the inflammation.
Surgery may be required in some cases. If your child has appendicitis, it may need to be removed. Intussusception can be repaired by removing the obstruction or, in more extreme cases, by taking out part of the intestine. Colitis may need to be treated by taking out part or all of the colon. Though surgery is an option for Crohn’s disease, it can cause lasting effects on the child, such as stunted growth and poor nutrition.