Abdominal Pain 

Parents visiting their doctors majorly come in with complaints of “tummy ache”. Only few out of these have a serious underlying problem; the rest experience normal stomach ache due to bowel movement or food digestion. Pain that usually goes away within 3 hours and shows no other symptoms has nothing to worry about.

Abdominal pain can be anywhere between the chest and the groin. Babies and toddlers react differently to abdominal pain as compared to older children. Latter can talk about their pain whereas a baby may become fussy, draw his or her legs up towards the belly, or eat poorly. Older children can easily point to the area of the pain and also describe how severe it is.​

Abdominal pain is a generic problem and there can be many reasons why it is occurring in children. It may be because of: 

Some more serious causes of abdominal pain in children may include 

Girls who start menstruating may have abdominal pain each month. This pain may be more severe in some months than others.

It is important that you consult a paediatrician as soon as the following symptoms appear with pain:

  • Your child faints while complaining of abdominal pain.

  • Your child had bloody stool or has fresh blood when he or she defecates.

  • Your child vomits blood or what looks like coffee like grounds.

  • Your child has symptoms of urinary tract infection.

  • Your child’s pain is focused in one area of the tummy.

  • Your child has a newly developed pain accompanied by vomit and diarrhoea.

  • Your child has fever.

  • Your child has a hard or rigid belly.

  • Your child is unable to pass stool, and is also vomiting.

  • Your child is having trouble breathing.

  • Your child has a sudden, sharp and palpitating stomach pain.

  • Abdominal pain which is lasting more than a week.

  • Abdominal pain which is accompanied by unexpected weight loss.

  • A burning sensation in the stomach and while urinating.​​

Visit a doctor at the Family Health Services or a paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital as soon as your child complains of abdominal pain accompanied by any of the above symptoms. It might not be anything serious, but our doctors may be able to get you rid of any apprehensions.​

​Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

​The doctor will be able to diagnose the type of stomach ache through a thorough medical examination and history of your child. The doctor will also ask for a rectal examination to check the presence of blood. Your doctor may also ask for a lab test, stool test and Computerized Tomography (CT) scan for further analysis of any infections, stool and stomach respectively. Special tests may be ordered based on the child's condition, including barium enema or swallow, or a pelvic exam. A specialist such as a gastroenterologist or a general or a paediatric surgeon may be consulted.

In case an underlying medical issue is detected, your child’s paediatrician will propose a treatment to address the infection. He may prescribe a course of medications in this event.

However, if a major medical condition like appendicitis is diagnosed, your child may have to undergo a surgery. 

Abdominal pain mostly gets fine with home treatment. In order to ease your child’s pain, you can do the following:

  • ​Make your child eat small meals every four to six hours.

  • Ask your child to lie down and rest.

  • Increase intake of fluids including luke warm milk, broth or fruit juice diluted with water.

  • Make your child pass stool.

  • Do not let your child play around aggressively.

  • Increase the intake of water.

  • Do not give your child spicy or oily foods or even sugary fruits.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

​The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

​Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.