When Should I Worry about a Stomachache?

When Should I Worry about a Stomachache?
This is a question we get daily. A stomachache is something that everyone has had or will have. Stomachaches are a symptom of so many illnesses and conditions, that it would be almost impossible to list them all. The question then is which ones should worry you as a parent.
Most stomachaches come and go, get better and get worse. If a stomachache lasts for 2 hours without a break, then you should have the child seen by a doctor. If the pain comes in waves and then goes away, that is the usual pattern for most common infections. Pain that is constant or increasing over a 2 hour time period needs evaluation and may be something serious.


Stomachaches can be from infections that are not in the belly, such as strep throat. If the stomachache is accompanied by diarrhea, then it is almost always an intestinal viral infection. The same is true for vomiting with diarrhea, almost always a viral illness.
If the stomachache is accompanied by hard stools or difficulty passing stools without other symptoms of an illness, then it is likely due to constipation. Constipation is something that we see on a daily basis. It might be beneficial to try a laxative to see if that gives relief of the pain.


Stomachaches that continue to recur beyond 1-2 weeks are not typical of a simple viral illness. Stomachaches that are getting worse instead of better are not good. Those kids should be evaluated for other causes.

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