While not uncommon, stomach aches in children can be hard to properly diagnose if the child cannot adequately describe the type of pain and its location. The cause of child stomach pain may be as harmless as a minor intestinal bug or result from the flu or other gastrointestinal illnesses. In more serious cases, an inflamed appendix can cause stomach aches in children. The pain could come from reaction to a food as well. In rarer cases, caretakers must ensure that poisoning did not lead to the upset stomach.
Children contract all manor of stomach bugs which are often are the most likely culprit of abdominal pain. Mild cases should disappear within a day or two provided the caretaker provides plenty of fluids. A more prolonged illness, accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, chills and vomiting, could signal that the child has contracted flu or gastroenteritis, which is inflammation of the stomach lining or intestinal tract.
Stomach aches in children appear in appendicitis cases. These instances are much more serious than a mild flu and require immediate attention in case the appendix is at risk for rupturing. The child likely will complain of abdominal pain around the belly button that radiates to the right side. This ailment is more common in children 11 years of age and older.
Reaction to foods can also lead to stomach aches in children. If a food disagrees with a child, she may experience indigestion that causes pain. Food also may lead to particularly bad cases of gas; in this case, trapped air causes sharp abdominal cramps. Infants are especially susceptible to painful gas that leads to stomach aches.
Food allergies or sensitivities often cause stomach aches in children. If the child has similar symptoms every time she eats a certain food, allergies are likely to blame. In lactose intolerant children, for example, the pain probably will start 30 minutes to two hours after eating dairy. With food allergies, symptoms may arise any time from immediately to several hours after the child ingested the problem food. Mild allergies or sensitivities will cause only stomach cramping and pain, but more severe cases will lead to vomiting and other symptoms.
Parents also should not discount poisoning as the cause of stomach aches in children. A child may have gotten into household cleaners, toiletries, or prescription medications, for example. Ingesting these items almost certainly will lead to severe abdominal pain in children.