What To Do If Your Child Has Left Side Abdominal Pain

Worrying comes with the territory when you become a parent. No matter how old your child gets, you’ll always be anxious about their health and wonder if anything is wrong. This concern is at its peak when your child is a toddler or preschooler because this is also when children get sick the most. Though most of these sick days are frequent and don’t raise any red flags, there are a few conditions that you should be careful about. Remember that because children don’t know or understand the pain or what is causing it, you’ll need to pay attention to subtle signs.

Abdominal pain in children is widespread and is usually not a cause for concern unless it is accompanied by other symptoms as well. Most of the time, the toddler will complain of pain around the belly button, and this is typically because of gas, mild allergy or an upset stomach. However, sometimes, the pain is centered to either the right or the left side of the abdomen, and this is when you should try to investigate further. Because organs like the spleen, stomach, left kidney, the left side of the large intestine and the testicles and ovary are located at the left side of the body; it’s vital that you examine its cause.

This article will highlight the common causes of pain experienced at the left side, how you can treat the symptoms and when you should visit the doctor.

Causes of abdominal pain centered on the left side


One of the most common reasons for abdominal pain in children and adults alike is constipation. According to a study, 42 million people in America are affected by constipation. This is something which often brings about the pain that comes and goes. It is pretty standard for children who are going through toilet training. Children often hold their bowel movements instead of visiting the toilet. The stool that isn’t expelled causes sharp pains that are centered on the left side of the abdomen.

Constipation also causes nausea, gas and bloating and is not a cause for concern unless it is consistent. However, remember that constipation can also occur when the stool is hard and painful to pass. In such a situation, your child may complain of a cramping pain that is relieved by a bowel movement.

What you can do:

Here are a few things you can do relieve the symptoms of constipation

  • If you’re toilet training, ensure that you make the child sit on the seat, so they are relieved
  • Offer plenty of fluids in the form of water and fresh juices
  • Increase intake of vegetables and fruits that are high in fiber

When to visit a doctor:

Visit a doctor if you

  • See blood after wiping off the stool
  • If you notice a bulging hernia at the anal area

Food Poisoning or Gastroenteritis

At times, children can display symptoms of gastroenteritis and food poisoning along with tummy ache. While gastroenteritis is a gut infection, food poisoning is caused by drinking or eating contaminated food. Both of these illnesses present diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain as symptoms and clear away within a few days but sometimes take longer.

Though most children experience an overall pain in their tummy area, there are a few who have reported having pain in just the upper or lower quadrant of their left side.

What you can do:

Some safety measures that you can take to make sure your child remains well after contracting any of the two illnesses are

  • Offer plenty of fluids throughout the day because both gastroenteritis and food poisoning cause dehydration
  • Encourage your toddler to eat as usually as possible so the gut and stomach can go back to its normal state
  • Avoid giving snacks and juices from outside because these may worsen the situation even more than it already is

When to visit a doctor:

Visit the ER if

  • Your child refuses to take any food or liquid
  • Vomits everything you offer and can’t sustain anything

Blunt Force Trauma

According to a study, 75% of all blunt traumas are due to blunt abdominal trauma or BAT. This is one of the most common types of injury and might not always be a cause for concern. In a nutshell, blunt trauma is when your body is hit with something, but the blow doesn’t penetrate the skin but results in abrasions, bruises, and momentary pain. Because toddlers are prone to falling, a child complaining of left side abdominal pain could be experiencing it due to a minor accident.

However, if the pain persists even after a couple of hours, it might be a sign of something serious such as splenic trauma. Damage to the spleen can be hazardous and life threating if not treated immediately. The pain centered at the left side of the stomach could also be a warning sign of internal bleeding and so shouldn’t be ignored or brushed off as usual.

What you can do:

If your child has fallen and is complaining of tummy ache you can

  • Ask the toddler to rest and offer a peaceful environment where he doesn’t have to run a lot
  • Check for tenderness and bruising of where the pain is originating from
  • Frequently check for fever or vomiting or another dangerous sign

When to visit a doctor:

Don’t avoid going to the doctor if

  • The abdominal pain is persistent and doesn’t go away with time
  • There is a large bruised area which also feels tender to the touch
  • If the child cannot stay or complains during movement

Though there is a myriad of explanations to why children experience tummy ache, the ones we’ve talked about here are most common. Remember that it is always recommended that you consult a physician if you’re worried about the pain or if it is persistent and doesn’t go away because it’s better safe to be sorry. Also, avoid giving your toddler or child any painkillers for the pain without a prescription because kids that small may respond negatively.