What are the most common causes of right lower quadrant pain in children?
In young children it is often quite difficult for them to show exactly where the pain is. If this is the case, the field of options widens to almost any cause of tummy (abdominal) ache. In children common causes of right lower quadrant (RLQ) pain include:
- Very common in children.
- Means passing hard stools (faeces), with difficulty, less often than normal.
- May cause RLQ pain but more commonly causes pain on the left, over the last part of the colon (descending colon).
Gastroenteritis and food poisoning
- Cause diarrhoea.
- May also cause the child to be sick (vomit) and have crampy tummy (abdominal) pains.
- Pain may be anywhere in the tummy.
- Pain may ease for a while each time some diarrhoea is passed.
- Leads to bloating, tummy pain, wind and watery stools after drinking milk.
- Lactose intolerance can sometimes occur for a while after gastroenteritis. The condition gets better when the infection is over and the gut lining heals.
- Some people are born with a tendency to develop it.
- In children with infections such as colds, glands within the tummy commonly become inflamed giving them tummy ache.
- The child may have other symptoms of a cold, such as a runny nose or a sore throat.
- In older children, symptoms will be similar to those in adults (see under Common Causes section).
- Babies may get watery diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Preschool children may just have vague tummy pains and go off their food.
Torsion of the testicle
- Occurs when a testicle (testis) twists around in the scrotum.
- It occurs in boys and young men, typically teenage boys.
- It is unusual over the age of 25 years.
- Severe pain that develops quickly.
- It can affect either side.
- Coeliac disease is caused by a reaction of the gut to gluten. Gluten is found in many foods.
- It can cause poor growth
- Stools may be pale, smelly and difficult to flush away.
- Pain doesn't always occur but can be anywhere in the tummy. It tends to come and go.
Further reading and references
Cartwright SL, Knudson MP; Evaluation of acute abdominal pain in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2008 Apr 177(7):971-8.
Kim JS; Acute Abdominal Pain in Children. Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2013 Dec16(4):219-224. Epub 2013 Dec 31.
Cartwright SL, Knudson MP; Diagnostic imaging of acute abdominal pain in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2015 Apr 191(7):452-9.
Manterola C, Vial M, Moraga J, et al; Analgesia in patients with acute abdominal pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jan 19(1):CD005660. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005660.pub3.
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