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Belly Aches and Tummy Troubles

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Although tummy aches are a common complaint in children — the reason for 5 to 10 percent of all visits to a doctor or emergency facility — they seldom turn out to be a cause for serious concern. Most of the time, tummy pains are caused by a viral infection and disappear in a couple of days. A study from the University of Indiana showed that only one or two out of a hundred children had problems serious enough to require specific treatment or surgery.

Signs to Look For

There are some signs, however, that you should bring to your health care provider's attention to help figure things out. Oddly enough, severity of pain is not necessarily the most important issue. Gas trapped in a loop of bowel may cause sudden, inconsolable screaming in a child who writhes on the floor but has no fever, does not vomit, and recovers by relaxing in a warm bath.

Rather, a pattern of increasing pain over several hours that makes the child reluctant to stand up straight, let you touch his belly, or move is more likely to signal a serious problem. Other worrisome signs include:

  • abdominal pain associated with high fever;
  • vomiting, especially of brown, green, or yellow material or blood;
  • a distended abdomen: one that is tense and swollen, protruding more than normal for your toddler;
  • pain with urination;
  • blood or pus in urine or dark brown urine, and
  • blood or pus in stool.

You should bring these symptoms to your health care provider's attention immediately.




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