Lower abdominal pain is a common complaint among children, according to the “American Family Physician” journal. Diagnosing the cause of the pain, however, can be tricky. Many issues can cause lower abdominal pain in kids, from food-related problems to external issues, such as a rash. In the majority of cases, the cause is not serious.
Children who suffer from lower abdominal pain may not want to eat. They may rub their stomach, cry, vomit, have diarrhea or curl up in pain. They may suffer from gas or cramping. Lower abdominal pain that has a viral or bacterial cause may also present as a fever in infected children.
When most children complain of a stomach ache, they are suffering from gas or other digestion issues, such as constipation. Infections, such as the stomach flu, can also cause abdominal pain. In the case of the stomach flu, however, the complaint tends to be upper abdominal, not lower. Lower pain that is caused by a virus is called gastroenteritis, or the “gut flu.” Other, more serious causes of lower abdominal pain include poisoning, a blockage in the intestines, or appendicitis, which consists of pain localized to the lower right side of the abdomen.
Immediate history is important when diagnosing lower abdominal pain. The doctor will want to know if your child has recently eaten a lot of greasy foods, or perhaps a food that may cause an allergic reaction. The doctor will also want to know what other symptoms your child has, such as vomiting, which usually signifies a viral infection, food poisoning or the consumption of a toxic substance. In addition, the doctor will probably palpitate the abdomen and ask your child to cough, jump or otherwise move around.
Treatment for most conditions that cause lower abdominal pain (save appendicitis or intestinal blockage, which require surgery) can be done at home. Gently rubbing your child’s belly may soothe him, as might warm, wet compresses or a warm bath. Gas pain can be treated with antacids. Bland foods, broth, soda water and crackers can help soothe an upset stomach.
There are two serious causes of lower abdominal pain, according to AskDrSears.com, and both require immediate medical attention. The first is appendicitis. Early appendicitis often presents as mild pain near the belly button. In time, the pain will move to the lower right side of the abdomen, and be constant and severe. Children with appendicitis may have a fever and will likely refuse to eat, walk or even move. Intestinal obstruction is also a serious cause of abdominal pain. This presents as severe, sudden pain coupled with projectile vomiting. The vomiting is persistent and dark green in color. A child with an intestinal obstruction will appear seriously ill. Medical treatment should be sought without delay.