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abdominal pain: The Alex

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My child has abdominal pain

Your child has been seen in the Children’s Emergency Department (CED) with abdominal pain (tummy or stomach ache). We have assessed them and think they are well enough to go home.

Most cases of abdominal pain are not serious and children usually get better quickly without any treatment. For example, abdominal pain lasting less than four hours or relieved by simple painkillers (for example paracetamol).

Sometimes children are sent home without having a clear cause of their pain to see if the symptoms improve on their own. This will only happen if we are certain that this is safe for your child, and we will always ask you to bring your child back to hospital if they get worse, not better

What should I do at home?

  • Ensure your child has plenty of rest and encourage them to drink lots of clear fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • You can give your child their usual diet but they may not feel like eating until their symptoms settle. Providing your child is having milk feeds or drinking plenty, they won’t come to any harm from this. If your child is still not eating after 3 days, contact their GP for advice.
  • Give your child pain medicine, for example paracetamol / ibuprofen if they are in pain, unless advised otherwise by your child’s doctor. Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions for the correct dose.
  • Check on your child frequently for signs of a rash or serious illness, such as those listed below.
  • If your child develops a rash, do the tumbler test to check if it is non-blanching.

If your child is:

  •  drinking plenty.
  •  passing urine regularly.
  •  alert and responsive.
  •  having mild pain.

You can continue to care for them at home using the advice provided.

Image of the Tumbler Test

Image of the Tumbler Test

The Tumbler Test

Do the Tumbler Test (also known as the glass test) if your child has a rash. Press a glass tumbler firmly against the rash. If you can see the spots through the glass and they do not fade this is called a non-blanching rash which could be a sign of a serious infection. If this rash is present your child needs to be seen urgently.
The rash is harder to see on dark skin so check paler areas, such as palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and tummy.

When should I seek further help for my child?

If your child:

  • Has pain that is not improving, or is worsening despite regular pain medicine.
  • Has blood in their poo (stools).
  • Has a swollen or tender
    abdomen (tummy).
  • Has pain or lumps in the groin.
  • Has problems passing urine (wee).

Your child should see a nurse or doctor today. Please ring your child’s GP surgery, call NHS 111,
or bring them back to the CED if that is what you have been advised.

When should I come straight back to hospital?

If your child:

  • Is unusually sleepy or floppy, or is pale, sweaty and unwell looking.
  • Is vomiting blood or bile (green, not yellow, vomit).
  • Is breathing faster than usual or finding it hard to breathe.
  • Develops a non-blanching rash (see the Tumbler Test).
  • Has a fit.
  • Has blood in their poo (stools) and you can’t get hold of your child’s GP.
  • Or you are concerned that your child is very unwell.

Phone 999 for an ambulance or go straight to the nearest Emergency Department.

Useful numbers

Get further support from:

Brighton walk-in centre / GP service: Practice Plus

Phone: 0300 130 3333

Open 8am till 8pm on 7 days a week including bank holidays.

For Out of Hours GP Service  ring NHS 111

Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital

Phone: 01273 696955 Ext. 2593

Children’s Emergency Department

Please be aware that CED staff will not be able to give you medical advice for your baby over the phone but can direct you to an appropriate service to assist with your enquiry.

The information in this leaflet is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.

Publication Date: February 2021

Review Date: November 2023

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