Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Abdominal Pain in Children Home Care

Home care for abdominal pain in children includes:

Abdominal Pain in Children Constipation

Home treatment of constipation in children with abdominal pain includes general measures and changes in diet. Avoid enemas and laxatives unless the doctor directs you to do so.

General Measures

  • Avoid foods that seem to give your child constipation. Cheese, white flour and white rice can trigger constipation.
  • Avoid straining on the toilet, this can cause hemorrhoids and complicate things further.
  • Encourage drinking plenty of water.
  • Encourage regular activity and exercise.
  • Encourage your child to use the bathroom when the urge occurs.
  • Give your child a high-fiber diet every day. Fruits and vegetables are best. Older children may use fiber supplements such as Metamucil.

Care for Infants Under 1 Year
  • Infants younger than 2 months: one teaspoon of Karo syrup per day.
  • Infants older than 2 months: 2-4 ounces of fruit juices, such as grape, pear, cherry or apple, per day. Prune juice can be used as a last resort. Orange juice and citrus juices are not as effective.
  • Infants older than 4 months: provide high fiber baby foods, such as peas, beans, cereals, apricots, prunes, pears, and spinach.
  • No enemas in children under 1 year of age.

Care for Children Over 1 Year
  • Make sure your child eats more fiber. The easiest way to do this is to include more fruits and vegetables in the diet. Raw, unpeeled fruits and vegetables are best.
  • Bran is a natural stool softener and is high in fiber. Consider oatmeal, bran muffins, shredded wheat, graham crackers, and whole wheat bread.
  • A normal saline or Fleet enema may be considered in children over 2 years of age under the direction of a doctor.
  • Anal fissures are commonly associated with straining. They can also contribute to constipation. Symptoms include pain during bowel movements and blood on the surface of the stools.
    • Treat anal fissures with warm, saltwater baths for 20 minutes, three times per day. Apply a non-prescription 0.5% hydrocortisone cream to the fissure after soaking.
  • Consider a stool softener if changing the diet is unsuccessful. These medications can be given with dinner for one week.
    • Examples of stool softeners include Colace, Haley's M-O, Metamucil, Citrucel, and mineral oil (1-2 tsp or 5-10 cc).

Abdominal Pain in Children Diarrhea

Home treatment for diarrhea in children with abdominal pain includes hydration and dietary therapy.

Hydration
Those who are able to drink liquids can restore lost water and salt with oral rehydration therapy (ORT).

ORT fluids used in children include:

  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte
  • ReVital
  • Generic drugstore brands

Additional ORT fluids for older children include:
  • Soft drinks without caffeine
  • Sports drinks (Gatorade)
  • Tea
  • Water

Strategies for breast-fed infants under 6 months include:
  • Continue breast feeding as much as your baby desires.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to supplement breast milk.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids every 30-60 minutes.
  • Prevent diaper rash by changing diapers frequently and apply Vaseline to the skin.
  • Watch for symptoms of dehydration.

Strategies for bottle-fed infants under 6 months:
  • Give your child normal amounts of formula.
  • Provide as much ORT fluids as your baby desires.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids every 30-60 minutes.
  • If vomiting occurs, try a lactose-free formula.
  • Prevent diaper rash by changing diapers frequently and apply Vaseline to the skin.
  • Watch for symptoms of dehydration.

Strategies for children over 6 months:

Dietary Therapy
ORT is most important if you have vomiting with the diarrhea. Once vomiting and nausea resolves, provide bland foods first. If bland foods are tolerated, then you may resume a normal diet.

Foods that may help diarrhea:
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Noodles
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Strained carrots
  • Wheat
  • Yogurt

Items that may worsen diarrhea include:
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Concentrated fruit juices
  • High-sugar foods; junk food
  • Cow's milk
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugar substitutes

Abdominal Pain in Children Infants

General home treatment measures for infants with abdominal pain include:

  • Avoid exposing the infant to cigarette smoke.
  • Avoid enemas and laxatives.
  • Assure plenty of rest.
  • Try a warm bath.
  • Be sure the infant is not over-fed, under-fed or thirsty.
  • Give the infant clear liquids only for 24 hours, and then slowly advance to a soft diet before returning to solid foods.
  • For vomiting, provide small sips of water constantly until vomiting stops.
  • If the child is breast feeding, the mother should stop caffeine, nicotine, antihistamines or stimulants.
  • Avoid cough or cold medicines.

Home treatment for infants under 3 months old diagnosed with colic:
  • Allow more time for sleep during the night and reduce nap time during the day.
  • Make sure the room is quiet and dark where the child sleeps.
  • Place the baby on his or her back when you lie the baby down to sleep.
  • Avoid medication for colic.
  • Continue breast feeding every 2 hours. Infants who are hungry after breast feeding may require formula feedings.
  • Soothing, gentle activities, such as rocking or a car ride can reduce the effects of colic.
  • Allow your baby to cry himself or herself to sleep after 30-60 minutes of cuddling and feeding. Cuddle with the child again if the he or she continues crying for 15-30 additional minutes.
  • Try a lactose-free formula, such as ProSobee.

Abdominal Pain in Children Vomiting

Home treatment of vomiting in children with abdominal pain includes hydration and dietary therapy. Those who are able to drink liquids can restore lost water and salt with oral rehydration therapy (ORT).

ORT fluids used in infants include:

  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte

ORT fluids used in older children include:
  • Sports drinks (Gatorade)
  • Broth
  • Dilute fruit juices
  • Flat soda
  • Weak tea with sugar

Strategies for breast-fed infants younger than 6 months:
  • If the infant tolerates breast milk, continue breast-feeding in small amounts very frequently.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to supplement breast milk.
  • Feed very small amounts every 30-60 minutes, or try giving small amounts more frequently, such as:
    • Children up to 5 kg (11 lb): give 5 ml (1 teaspoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 5-10 kg (11-22 lb): give 10 ml (2 teaspoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Strategies for formula-fed infants younger than 6 months:
  • If the infant tolerates formula, continue to provide small amounts very frequently.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to supplement formula.
  • Try giving small amounts more frequently, such as:
    • Children up to 5 kg (11 lb): give 5 ml (1 teaspoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 5-10 kg (11-22 lb): give 10 ml (2 teaspoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Strategies for children over 6 months:
  • Provide as much ORT fluids as your child desires.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids more frequently:
    • Children 10-20 kg (22-44 lb): 15 ml (1 tablespoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 20-40 kg (44-88 lb): 22 ml (1 and 1/2 tablespoons) every 5 minutes
    • Children 40 kg (88 lb) and over: 30 ml (2 tablespoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Dietary Therapy
Most children with vomiting improve in a few hours and symptoms usually resolve in one day. Once vomiting and nausea resolves, provide bland foods first. If bland foods are tolerated, then you resume a normal diet.

Foods that are easiest to tolerate include:
  • Crackers
  • Oatmeal
  • Jell-O
  • Soft foods
  • Yogurt

Foods to avoid include:
  • Concentrated fruit juices
  • Junk foods
  • Milk products
  • Recently introduced foods
  • Spicy foods

Nonprescription medicines for vomiting should only be used under the direction of your doctor.

Abdominal Pain in Children Warning Signs

Continue to Abdominal Pain in Children Outlook

Last Updated: Nov 29, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Abdominal Pain in Children References
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  4. Kaiser S, Finnbogason T, Jorulf HK, et al: Suspected appendicitis in children: diagnosis with contrast-enhanced versus nonenhanced Helical CT. Radiology 2004 May; 231(2): 427-33. [15031433]
  5. Lanning DA, Thomas RL, Rood KD, Klein MD. Using quantitative methods to improve the diagnostic workup for abdominal pain in children. J Pediatr Surg. 2005 Jun;40(6):949-53. [15991176]
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  8. Warren O, Kinross J, Paraskeva P, Darzi A. Emergency laparoscopy - current best practice. World J Emerg Surg. 2006 Aug 31;1(1):24 [16945124]
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