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Stomachache: Brief Version


What is a stomachache?

When your child says that his stomach hurts, there could be many causes. It might be caused by:

  • Eating too much.
  • Gas pains from drinking too much soda pop.
  • Other kinds of indigestion.

Most of the time, this kind of stomachache gets better in a few hours. If your child has vomiting or diarrhea with the stomachache, your child may have the flu. Sometimes food poisoning or something more serious causes the stomachache.

If something more serious than flu causes the stomachache, the pain gets worse and doesn't go away.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Have your child lie down and rest until he feels better.
  • Put a warm washcloth or heating pad on his stomach for 20 minutes.
  • Give your child only sips of clear fluids. Do not give solid foods.
  • Keep a pan or bowl handy for vomiting.
  • Have your child sit on the toilet. It may help to have a bowel movement (BM).

Do not give medicine for stomach cramps unless you have talked with your doctor. Stay away from laxatives, painkillers, and enemas.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • The pain is severe AND lasts more than 1 hour.
  • The pain does not go away AND has lasted more than 2 hours.
  • The pain comes and goes (cramps) AND lasts more than 24 hours.
  • The pain is in the scrotum or testicle.
  • Your child starts acting very sick.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • Your child's stomachache keeps coming back.
  • You have other questions or concerns.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2007-04-19
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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