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When should my child go to the emergency room (ER) for abdominal pain?

If abdominal pain is causing your child irritability and concern, it is best to see a healthcare professional at the emergency room (ER). Abdominal pain can be caused by a variety of reasons, so it’s a good idea to have it checked.

When your child should go to the emergency room (ER) for abdominal pain is age dependent. In kids less than two years old, ER doctors would make sure they're not missing appendicitis if the child's pain is in the lower right quadrant of the belly. Appendicitis can be life threatening and is a surgical emergency. Younger kids can also have something called an intussusception, where the bowel telescopes into itself, also a surgical emergency. Older kids can have gallbladder problems that require emergency surgery.

Sometimes belly pain can actually be referred pain from other places, so it's important to make sure that it's not coming from the genital region. If your child is complaining of really, really bad belly pain, if they're having nausea, vomiting, not keeping anything down, and you just feel that something's not right, definitely come to the ER.

Your child should go to the emergency room (ER) for abdominal pain if your child’s “tummy” pain is severe enough, and if you are able to tell that the pain is located in the lower-right abdominal area. If you notice bloody stools, or persistent vomiting, especially any bloody vomiting, then you will know for sure that your child needs to go to the ER as soon as possible.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.