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Abdominal Pain

Abdominal Pain is defined as pain or discomfort that is located between the bottom of the ribcage and the groin crease. An older child may complain of a stomach ache, while a younger child may point to or hold their abdomen.

Symptom Management

Lie Down: Encourage your child to lie down and rest until feeling better.

Clear Fluids: Offer clear fluids for moderate to severe discomfort (e.g., water, flat soft drinks, or half-strength Gatorade). For mild pain, you may offer a regular diet.

Prepare for Vomiting: Keep a vomiting pan handy. Younger children often refer to nausea as a “stomachache”.

Pass a Stool: Encourage sitting on the toilet and trying to pass a stool. This may relieve pain if it is due to constipation or impending diarrhea.

Avoid Pain Medicines: Drugs (especially ibuprofen), can irritate the stomach lining and make the pain worse. We do not recommend the use of pain medication or laxatives for stomach cramps. If your child’s pain is accompanied by a fever above 102°F, acetaminophen may be given.

Liquid Antacid for Upper Abdominal Pain: Upper abdominal pain is sometimes caused by indigestion and may be relieved by the use of a liquid antacid (e.g., Mylanta). For children ages 5 and older, administer 1 tablespoon as needed. Do not administer more than 4 times a day.

Expected Course

In most cases, the pain will improve in 2 hours. If the discomfort is due to a stomach bug (i.e., gastroenteritis), belly cramps may precede each bout of vomiting or diarrhea and last several days. In serious cases like appendicitis, the pain will worsen and become constant.

When to Call the Office

  • The pain becomes severe and interrupts your child’s sleep or participation in normal activities.
  • Constant pain is present for over 2 hours.
  • Pain is located low on the lower right side of the abdomen.
  • The pain is mild but comes and goes over 24 hours.
  • Your child becomes worse.


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The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances