It is not unusual for kids to have an upset stomach now and then. Often, they just will have eaten too much sugar or too large a meal, or their stomach is reacting to nervousness that they don't quite know how to express. Sometimes, though, an upset stomach is representative of a bigger issue that does need treatment by a pediatrician. How do you know the difference? Well, you should call the doctor if any of the following are true of your child's upset stomach.
It lasts more than 24 hours.
Even mild stomach discomfort can be a sign of something more serious if it goes on for more than 24 hours. Your child may have a mild case of food poisoning, or they could be suffering from an ulcer or appendicitis. When your child first complains of stomach trouble, make a note of it, and if 24 hours later their ailment has not improved or gone away completely, call the pediatrician just to be on the safe side.
It's accompanied by more than two episodes of vomiting.
While you don't need to call the doctor every time your child vomits, you should call if they vomit more than twice within a day or so. This kind of persistent vomiting not only indicates that something more sinister, like food poisoning, may be going on — but it can also lead to dehydration. Your child's pediatrician can test their hydration levels and help you work on rehydrating them with either electrolyte beverages or an IV.
It's accompanied by more than two bouts of diarrhea.
Diarrhea, similar to vomiting, can lead to serious dehydration. If your child has more than two bouts of diarrhea in 24 hours, it is a good idea to call their pediatrician. They could have an intestinal infection or a more serious chronic condition like IBS. It will be easier to diagnose and treat before serious dehydration sets in.
It's characterized by debilitating pain in the center of the right-hand side of the stomach.
If your child's stomach pain is so serious that it has them in tears or immobile, then you need to call the pediatrician — especially if that pain starts in the middle of their stomach and then moves to the right-hand side. This is a classic sign of appendicitis, which requires immediate care.
Stomach pain is not always serious, but it can be. When in doubt, call your child's pediatrician. They'll let you know whether they need to see your child, or whether it's safe to wait it out at home a little longer.
For more information, contact a pediatric care clinic in your area.