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What To Do When My Baby Has Abdominal Pain?

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal Pain: Almost all children have a tummy ache at some point, and it is rarely from a significant health problem. The most likely cause is constipation or gastroenteritis, but it is convenient to know the pain’s characteristics to rule out significant issues.

The abdominal pain is a symptom that can be associated with different problems. When the part of the body between the chest and groin bothers or hurts a child, depending on what is causing the pain, it may also have other symptoms.

1. Causes of Abdominal Pain

In the little ones, gastroenteritis and constipation are the most common causes. At first, we have diarrhea with or without vomiting, and sometimes it is accompanied by a fever.

With constipation, the child has pain with stools, which are hard or infrequent.

Although when our son’s abdomen hurts, he most likely has a problem in his tummy, sometimes it is not like that. It is even the case that some tonsillitis, otitis, or pneumonia, for example, can also cause abdominal pain.

Also, the pain you feel may not be related to the intestine: the abdomen contains many other organs apart from the intestine and the stomach (pancreas, liver, urinary tract ) that, if altered, also cause it.

With constipation, the child has pain with stools, which are hard or infrequent.

In those cases, we would say that the pain has an abdominal cause, although not gastrointestinal, such as urine infections.

All these organs are organized and held within a bag, called the peritoneum, and this, in turn, is protected by successive layers of muscle, fat, and skin, which can also cause pain.

2. Attentive to the General State

Belly pain is usually not a significant problem. But it is convenient to be alert with the signs that will allow us to differentiate a worrisome abdominal pain from another that is not.

Children under 3 years of age may not be able to express directly that their tummy hurts, but they manifest it in other ways.

We will notice that they are irritable, complaining, with sudden crying that gives form and starts again, inappetent, and they can adopt “strange body postures” That help them make their tummy ache less.

sudden crying

We must observe the general condition of our child: check if he has a fever, the location of the pain, if it is constant or intermittent, if it increases in intensity or, on the contrary.

Decreases with the passing of the hours or with the emission of feces, if accompanied by vomiting.

We must also observe the stools (color, presence of blood, mucus ).

We must check if the abdominal pain is constant or not, if he has a fever if he vomits, the appearance of the stools …

Children who are already crawling or walking can suffer accidental trauma that causes pain and can be detected by the presence of bruises or injuries in other parts of the body.

This is why it is good to ask them if they have fallen or been hit recently and examine them.

3. Calm Infant Spasms

When an infant has an upper catarrhal picture, he may have difficulty eating and swallowing a lot of air that he cannot eliminate.

For this reason, you can suffer cramps that lead to more irritation and more air intake, and end up in the emergency room with crying and abdominal distention.

If we put the baby on his stomach with the head on our arm and the abdomen on the hand, we will help him expel gas, relieve his crying, and improve the symptoms.

child fever

4. Acute and Chronic Pain

It is essential to differentiate the type of abdominal pain, according to the way it appears in the child, and can be classified between:

Acute or short-term pain, but with sufficient intensity so that the child cannot do his everyday activity, as in the case of gastroenteritis caused by viral diarrhea, bacteria, or parasites that produce inflammation in the intestine due to the increase of the intestinal mobility and can cause pain.

Chronic or recurrent pain, when there are at least three episodes of pain in three months, a manifestation that may be caused by constipation: by accumulating stools or by trying to eliminate them by making increased movements of the intestine.

However, most of the time, a precise cause is not found, and the pain subsides spontaneously without treatment after a short time, so it is not convenient to obsess.

5. Other Causes of Pain

Sometimes, the pain rarely goes away, and the visible cause is not gastroenteritis or constipation. In these cases, the origin of the problem may be somewhat less common and should be taken into account:

Functional or psychogenic pain: emotions or anxiety can be the cause of belly pain.
Food allergies or intolerances to foods or substances such as cow’s milk protein or gluten, in which a first symptom may be nonspecific pain.

Intussusception in infants: the intestine sinks into itself, like a finger in a glove. It is rare and requires urgent surgical intervention, affecting children between 3 months and 3 years.

The intermittent pain lasts several hours, and crying spells with subsequent drowsiness and profuse sweating put us on the trail of this alteration.

As arterial blood does not reach this part of the intestine, it can suffer an injury, giving rise to stools with blood from the mucosa.

Kidney and urine infections: in urine infections, in addition to pain, a distinctive symptom in very young babies is the rejection of feeding, and in older ones, fever.

Hernias: the presence of a soft lump in the groin that was not previously present may indicate an inguinal hernia. The sensation when palpating this mass is as if it had air or water inside.

If you feel pain on palpation, it may be a symptom of a strangulated hernia and requires surgical intervention.

Lung infections: if there is pneumonia, the baby will have irritability, respiratory distress, fever, and a poor general condition.

Appendicitis or infection of a part of the intestine, a rare situation that affects children older than 4-5 years.

6. When to Go to the Doctor

In children under 3 years old, they should go directly to the emergency room if they have episodes of abdominal pain or intense crying, sweating or paleness, with intervals of calm or numbness of 15 or 20 minutes, and which may be accompanied by vomiting and bloody gelatinous stools.

Abdominal Pain

And, in general, we must go to the doctor if the child presents the following manifestations:

  • recent history of a severe blow to the abdomen repeated vomiting that won’t stop
  • fever
  • changes in stools or blood in them
  • very localized and persistent pain within the abdomen
  • increasing pain, forcing the child to lie still
  • prolonged pain lasting more than 24 hours
  • pain that awakens the child at night.

Depending on the child’s condition, the doctor may order blood tests, stool examination, or abdominal ultrasound.

7. Can Help You

The massage in the abdomen in the sense of the clock needles helps soothe pain in infants.

Be attentive to assess when the pain appears, for example, if it is related to food, a specific type of food, or a particular situation that causes stress.

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