May also be called: Stomachache; Bellyache
Almost everyone has had abdominal pain at some point. While a stomachache can be a symptom of many conditions, most do not have a serious cause.
The amount of belly pain someone has does not always match the seriousness of the problem causing it. Sometimes very simple problems like gas or constipation can make a person very uncomfortable.
An infection (like a bout of "stomach flu" or "food poisoning") can cause stomach pain, as can problems like appendicitis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Abdominal pain also can be a symptom of a food-related problem like celiac disease (a reaction to proteins in certain grains), food allergies, or a food intolerance.
Stress also is a common cause of abdominal pain. In those cases, counseling to manage stress can be helpful.
In some cases, abdominal pain can be caused by a problem in another part of the body (like the chest).
Treatment, if needed, will depend on the cause of the abdominal pain. Kids should not be given laxatives, antacids, or other medicines unless recommended by a doctor.
While many cases of abdominal pain are minor, some can have a more serious cause, like appendicitis. So call your doctor if the pain is very strong, is accompanied by repeated vomiting, or the discomfort gets worse over time or doesn't go away.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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