Abdominal pain is a very common issue in children. There are many causes, some minor and some very significant and even life-threatening unless treated adequately. This could be associated with vomiting, child drawing up his or her legs and change in the habit of passing stools or even bloated belly. The characteristics of vomit, stools and the pain pattern need to be noted.
Common conditions associated with Stomach pain in children:
Diarrhea or dysentery
Gastritis or acidity
Acute appendicitis or Meckel’s diverticulum
Generalised peritonitis due to any cause
Intestinal obstruction, Intussusception
Kidney or other organ diseases
Kidney infection or pyelonephritis
Other medical conditions like porphyria, purpura, sickle cell disease etc.
Causes of Stomach Pain in Children:
Intestinal worm infestation: This infection with roundworms, hookworms, pinworms, amoebiasis etc is one of the commonest causes of pain in the abdomen in children. Periodic de-worming medicines help.
Constipation: This is another common cause due to inappropriate diet. Lack of adequate fiber in the diet, too much of junk food, inadequate intake of water in daily routine and rarely causes inside the intestine are responsible. Change in the dietary habits helps, along with help with some medicines.
Gastritis or acidity: This is also not uncommon and needs to be treated appropriately.
Acute appendicitis: This is the most dreaded cause of pain. Needs to be ruled out positively by a proper examination by the pediatric surgeon which may require emergency surgery to save the life of the child. I have operated premature children weighing 1.2 kg with this disease.
Serious conditions: These include medical ailments like intestinal obstruction, peritonitis, intussusception, ischemic enteritis, kidney infection or pyelonephritis, kidney stones etc. need evaluation with investigations and need to be tackled appropriately.
Unrecognised injuries: These need to be considered in difficult cases.