Abdominal pain with fever is one of the most common children's complaints. There are several causes of these symptoms. In order to identify the cause, it is important to take into consideration the child’s age and other symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea. Some of the most common causes for abdominal pain with fever in children include infections and surgical conditions.
The most common cause of abdominal pain with fever in children is gastroenteritis, commonly called a “stomach bug” or “stomach flu.” Children with gastroenteritis usually have abdominal pain that is general and hard to localize to a specific area of the abdomen. Fever is common and reflects the body’s ability to fight off the infection. Other symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea. The stools become liquid and foul-smelling, and, in cases of bacterial gastroenteritis, can contain blood. The abdominal pain often reflects the build up of gas from the diarrhea inside the intestines, causing them to dilate and be painful to the child.
Event though pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, children can have abdominal pain and fever as their main symptoms. This happens especially when the pneumonia is localized in the lower parts of the lung, closer to the abdomen, where it causes inflammation that can cause pain that the child feels is in the abdomen. Other potential pain causes are evaluated before identifying pneumonia as the cause of the fever and the abdominal discomfort.
Appendicitis is the most common surgical cause of abdominal pain and fever. It is an inflammation of the appendix, a short, tube-like structure that protrudes from the intestine. The pain often starts in the area around the bellybutton and then moves to the right lower part of the abdomen, where the appendix is located. Fevers are common, but are not usually very high. Appendicitis is an emergency that needs prompt medical attention and surgery in order to prevent complications like a rupture of the appendix, which can lead to peritonitis, a generalized infection of the abdomen.
Mesenteric adenitis is an inflammation of the lymph nodes that surround the intestines. It is usually caused by viruses. The symptoms of mesenteric adenitis are fever and generalized abdominal pain. The pain can be severed and can easily be mistaken for other conditions, like appendicitis. Mesenteric adenitis resolves on its own after a few days. In the meantime, children with mesenteric adenitis need adequate hydration, and pain and fever control.