Childhood Illnesses

Tummy Pain

Tummy pain is very common in children but can be worrying. Most children will not need any specific treatment and the pain will get better by itself. Tummy pain can be caused by:

  • Constipation
  • A urine (wee) infection
  • A tummy bug
  • Reflux or colic in babies.

Sometimes there is no cause and the pain goes away by itself.

In older children tummy pain might also be caused by:

  • Period pains
  • Anxiety.

Sometimes, tummy pain can be caused by something more serious, such as appendicitis or a twist in the testicles of boys known as testicular torsion.

Dive Deeper

What Should You Do If Your Child Has Tummy Pain?

If your child has tummy pain there are a few things you can do to below to help them:

  • Offer your child a normal diet and plenty of fluids. Avoid fizzy drinks and fruit juices.
  • Give them pain relief such as paracetamol (calpol) and or ibuprofen. Always read the labels on the bottle, and never give more than the recommended dose for age.
  • Offer your child bland foods.
  • Let them lie down and relax for a period of time.
  • Encourage them to go to the toilet to do a poo or pass some wind.
  • If your child also has runny poos (diarrhoea), offer small amounts of fluid often to try and avoid them getting dehydrated.

If their pain is not controlled with simple pain relief, if they develop jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), have a swollen tummy, are weeing more or less than usual or have blood in their poo or wee, you should arrange for them to be seen urgently by a medical practitioner. Call your GP surgery or NHS 111.

How Long Might The Symptoms Last?

The duration of your child’s symptoms will depend on the cause of their tummy pain.

  • If they are constipated, their pain may improve once they have had a poo.
  • If they have gastroenteritis, it may last a couple of days.

When to Get Further Help

Call  your GP or 111 for advice if your child:

  • Has a swollen tummy.
  • Has blood in their poo or wee.
  • Has constant pain for more than 1 day despite pain killers.
  • Has a fever or symptoms continuing for more than 5 days.
  • Is increasingly thirsty or is weeing significantly more or less than normal.
  • Has yellow skin or eyes.
  • Has weight loss/ poor growth.

Go to the nearest A&E Department or phone 999 if your child:

  • Is pale and floppy
  • Has cold hands and feet
  • Is drowsy or difficult to wake
  • Has green or blood stained vomit
  • Has severe pain despite pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • Has testicular pain or testicular swelling

When to seek further help

Who can Help?

Although it is scary when your child is in pain most tummy pain can be managed at home following the advice here, talking to your Health Visitor or visiting your GP.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

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