How Is The Cause Of The Abdominal Pain Diagnosed
Physical examination will include a careful examination of the patient’s abdomen, heart, and lungs in order to pinpoint the source of the pain.
- The doctor will touch different parts of the abdomen to check for tenderness or other signs that indicate the source of the pain.
- The doctor may do a rectal exam to check for small amounts of blood in the stool or other problems, such as a mass or internal hemorrhoids.
- If the patient is a man, the doctor may check the penis and testicles.
- If the patient is a woman, the doctor may do a pelvic exam to check for problems in the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
- The doctor also may look at the patient’s eyes for yellow discoloration and in the mouth to be sure the patient is not dehydrated.
Laboratory tests may or may not help to determine the cause of the abdominal pain. Combined with the information gained from the questions the patient was asked and the physical examination performed by the doctor, certain blood or urine tests may be ordered and could assist in determining the diagnosis.
Radiology studies of the patient’s abdomen can be useful, but are not always necessary or helpful.
- Occasionally, an X-ray will show air outside of the bowel, meaning that something has ruptured or perforated.
- An X-ray also can help diagnose bowel obstruction.
- Sometimes X-rays can show a kidney stone.
Ultrasound is a painless procedure useful in finding some causes of abdominal pain.
How Is Upset Stomach Diagnosed
Most cases of upset stomach are mild and self-limiting and able to be treated at home. The cause of more serious cases of upset can be diagnosed with a patient history of symptoms and a physical examination of the abdomen, which may include palpation of the area to check for tenderness, enlarged organs, or masses, and listening to the abdomen with a stethoscope for bowel sounds.
Other physical examinations to help determine the cause of an upset stomach may include:
- Rectal examination
When To Contact A Clinician
Persistent or severe abdominal pain, especially if unrelieved by vomiting or passing a bowel movement
Fever greater than 101 degrees F, not relieved by acetaminophen, or any fever that lasts more than three days
Vomiting or diarrhea without any improvement for more 24 hours
Blood in vomit or stools
No urination for more than 8 hours, or painful urination
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Constipation And Poor Bowel Habits
Ignoring the desire to have bowel movements may initiate a cycle of constipation.
- After a period of time, the person may stop feeling the desire to move the bowels.
- This leads to progressive constipation. For example, some people may avoid using public toilets or ignore going to the toilet because they are busy.
If these initial measures fail, the health-care professional may try a number of laxatives on a short-term basis. The patient should consult with his or her doctor before using any of these agents, particularly on long-term basis.
A doctor will treat any underlying diseases .
- If the patient has irritable bowel syndrome , he or she should stop smoking and avoid coffee and milk-containing foods. A food diary may help to identify foods that seem to worsen the symptoms.
- Thyroxin will be prescribed if the doctor determines through clinical and laboratory tests that the patient has an underactive thyroid gland .
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How To Control Your Anxiety Upset Stomach
Stomach upset can really put a damper on your ability to live a happy life. Ideally, you’ll need to treat your anxiety to experience a calmer stomach.
Even though anxiety is causing your stomach to feel sick, many of the symptoms can be reduced with various medications. You should always consult with a doctor before taking medication and do not want to rely on medication to cure your upset stomach. However, many people have had success with basic medications that calm the stomach. Common examples include:
Eating healthier can also help. Remember that your anxiety is affecting your gut, but it’s not causing the symptoms all on its own. What’s in your stomach has an effect on the severity of the symptoms as well. Eating healthier – especially on days you expect to experience anxiety – can be very helpful. Drinking water may also be useful since water is gentle on the stomach.
You may also try distracting yourself. While your upset stomach may be severe, anxiety causes a tendency to focus on the experience, which causes further anxiety and exacerbates the severity of the stomach pain. A positive distraction, like a funny TV show, can actually make a big difference in the way you experience your upset stomach.
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Do 5 Minutes Of Breath Work To Focus The Body On Digestion
Especially if you were stressed when eating, or if you experience chronic stress, that can take a toll on digestion.
The body has two states: fight or flight or rest and digest. If youre experiencing a stressor, such as from work, the body is in fight or flight mode to address the stress, not rest and digest to focus on digesting food. This makes digestion particularly difficult, which can often result in a stomachache.
To reset the body for digestion, taking a few deep breaths can help to recenter it and shift its focus to digesting your food. At the onset of a stomachache , take 3-5 really deep breaths in and out to help reduce the stomachache.
Watch this video to learn some deep breathing exercises :
The Link Between Your Gut Microbiome And Your Health
In addition, many of the underlying conditions that cause abdominal pain can lead to serious complications, including the possibility of structural damage to the digestive system from infection, cancer and its treatments, and inflammatory bowel disease .
To reduce the risk of complications, its important to seek medical attention for your abdominal pain if its sudden and severe, or if it includes symptoms like fever, bloody stool, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, or visible swelling.
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What Questions Will My Doctor Ask About My Abdominal Pain
Diagnosing the cause of abdominal pain is one of the hardest tasks for a doctor. Sometimes all that the professional can do is be sure that the pain does not require surgery or admission to the hospital.
The healthcare professional may ask these or similar questions to try to determine what is causing the patient’s pain. Some may seem unrelated to the patient’s current condition, but it is important to try to answer them as completely as possible. The answers to these questions can help the healthcare professional find the cause of the patient’s pain more quickly and easily.
- How long have you had the pain?
- What were you doing when it started?
- How did you feel before the pain started?
- Have you felt OK over the last few days?
- What have you tried to make the pain better? Did it work?
- What makes the pain worse?
- Where is the pain located?
- Right side?
What Home Remedies Soothe Abdominal Pain In Adults
Abdominal pain without fever, vomiting, vaginal bleeding, passing out, chest pain, or other serious symptoms often get better without special treatment.
- If the pain persists or if a person believes the pain may represent a serious problem, they should see a doctor.
- A heating pad or soaking in a tub of warm water may ease the pain.
- Over-the-counter antacids, such as Tums, Maalox, or Pepto-Bismol, also can reduce some types of abdominal pain. Activated charcoal capsules also may help.
- Acetaminophen may help. This product should be avoided if liver disease is suspected. Patients should try to avoid aspirin or ibuprofen stomach or intestinal ulcer disease is suspected these drugs can make the pain worse.
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Natural Stomach Ache Remedies
Tea Chamomile, peppermint and ginger teas are great options to help calm a restless stomach. Add a little honey, and kids will be more likely to take a sip.
Heat Drawing a warm bath for kids when they have an upset stomach is another solution. The warmth of the water helps relax them and eases their discomfort.
Essential oils Essential oils can help relieve many day-to-day discomforts, tummies included. Peppermint oil or ginger oils work well. Lavender and cinnamon oils are also good options.
Fiber Chronic stomachaches might be a result of constipation. Adjust the diet by eliminating dairy and increasing high-fiber vegetables. Items like prunes, raisins and apricots help people go easier. And dont forget to make sure you or your kiddos are drinking lots of water!
BRAT Conversely, if you dont suspect constipation, the BRAT diet can help with symptoms of nausea or diarrhea. BRAT stands for banana, rice, applesauce and toast. All of these foods are low in fiber but high binding, making them especially helpful when a child is making many trips to the restroom or when eating, in general, sounds unappetizing.
Dr. Horton cautions that natural remedies might not be the right long-term treatment depending on where the pain is coming from. Before taking over-the-counter supplements or naturopathic remedies, he encourages patients to talk with their doctor to review the options before starting anything.
Foods To Relieve Constipation
Getting enough fiber is a key part of relieving and preventing constipation. Its also important not to skip meals and to avoid highly processed foods, like fast food, potato chips, and white bread. High-fiber foods include:
- Beans and legumes, including navy beans, garbanzo beans, soybeans, lentils, almonds and peanuts
- Fresh fruits, especially apples, berries, figs, pears, plums and prunes. Eat edible skins to get the most benefit.
- Fresh vegetables, especially broccoli, , peas, and potatoes with their skins
- Whole grain products, especially bran cereal and popcorn
When Is Stomach Pain Most Likely To Occur
If you have anxiety, stomach pain can occur at any time even when no anxiety is present. However, many people experience stomach pain during panic attacks.
The exact link between an anxiety attack and stomach pain is not clear, other than the fact that during a panic attack, your body is under a considerable amount of stress, and your hormones are often on overdrive. Also, those with anxiety attacks are prone to hyperventilation, which may lead to symptoms that create stomach pain.
Start Your Day With Whole Grains
Fiber can help lower cholesterol, prevent constipation, and improve digestion. And many Americans dont eat enough of it. On average, we get less than half of what we need. Most whole grains are great sources of fiber. Start with breakfast: Look for whole-grain cereal or oatmeal with 3 or more grams of fiber per serving. Add fruit, and youll be on your way to the daily goal of 38 grams for men under 50 and 25 grams for women under 50.
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Wide Range Of Symptoms
One of the more surprising issues with some types of anxiety disorder is the way that they change sensations in our body. For example, for many, feeling full is a nice feeling. However, it can lead to a variety of natural body sensations, including:
- Feeling lightheaded
- Slight stomach discomfort
In those without anxiety, these are natural. In people suffering from some degree of anxiety, those sensations feel much more pronounced and can trigger a full-blown panic attack.
How To Stop Stomach Cramps And Pain
Medically reviewed by Abbey Sharp, Registered Dietitian , BASc.
I discuss the common causes and symptoms of stomach cramps, and share helpful tips and remedies for pain caused by stomach cramps.
Lets be real, stomach cramps are not fun! Ive had my fair share of annoying tummy troubles and understand just how inconvenient and painful they can be.
So what exactly is the culprit behind those pesky stomach cramps anyway? Lets discuss the common causes of stomach pain and some helpful strategies to help get rid of cramps in their tracks.
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Can Stomachaches Be Prevented
Not all belly pain can be prevented. But to help avoid common types of stomachaches:
- Wash your hands before eating or preparing food, and after using the bathroom.
- Don’t overeat, and try not to eat right before going to sleep.
- Drink plenty of water and eat fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to keep food moving through your digestive system.
- Avoid foods that have passed their expiration date or or weren’t stored properly.
- If you have a food allergy or intolerance, avoid eating foods that make you sick. If you have a food allergy, always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors, and know when you should use them.
How Do I Know If Its Anxiety And Not An Ulcer
Its not uncommon to find yourself concerned that your struggle with stomach pain is not from anxiety or stress at all. For example, you may find yourself concerned that instead of anxiety, what you are really struggling with is an ulcer.
Only a doctor can diagnose whether or not your pain is from an ulcer, but there are some clues. The clearest signal is if you have any blood in your stool or acid burps . Thats often a clear sign of an ulcer. Also, if the pain or discomfort tends to occur after eating and isnt related to a similar condition, GERD , its possible you may have an ulcer.
However, this is complicated by the fact that ulcers can be caused by long-term stress and anxiety, as they stimulate the production of extra stomach acid. This excess acid in the stomach breaks down the gastric or intestinal lining and cause open wounds that may harm your health.
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When To See A Doctor
An upset stomach and indigestion should not usually cause concern. For most people, symptoms should go away within a few hours. As older adults and children can become dehydrated much more quickly, they should seek medical attention for vomiting and diarrhea that lasts for more than a day.
People with severe, frequent, or persistent stomach problems should talk to a doctor. It is also best to seek medical attention if the following symptoms are present:
- continual or uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
- chronic constipation
How Common Are Stomachaches
Just about everybody will experience abdominal pain at one point or another. Most causes of abdominal pain are not serious and resolve spontaneously. A healthcare provider can usually readily diagnose and treat these conditions. However, abdominal pain can also be a sign of a serious illness, or even an emergency. Abdominal pain is responsible for some 5% of emergency room visits.
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How To Calm An Anxious Stomach: The Brain
Ever wonder why you get butterflies in your stomach before doing something stressful? Or why you feel like your stomach is tied in knots after an argument? Ever had a meeting with a toilet that went longer than expected and it wasnt caused by anything you ate? Stomach problems are one of the most common symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Researchers have identified a powerful connection between the gut and the brain. Like the brain, the gut is full of nerves. It contains the largest area of nerves outside the brain with the digestive tract and the brain sharing many of the same nerve connections.
Whether its a single nerve-wracking event or chronic worry and stress over time, stress can exact a physical toll on your digestive system. When you are anxious, some of the hormones and chemicals released by your body enter your digestive tract, where they interfere with digestion. They have a negative effect on your gut flora and decrease antibody production. The resulting chemical imbalance can cause a number of gastrointestinal conditions.
Common stress-related gut symptoms and conditions include:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- and peptic ulcers
Six Tips for Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Crohn’s Disease And Ulcerative Colitis
What it feels like: Both are inflammatory bowl diseases . Crohn’s disease targets the intestines and bowel but can also affect any part of the digestive tract. Some people have mild intermittent flare-ups others experience excruciating cramping, vomiting, bloating, bloody diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight loss and fatigue. Ulcerative colitis has similar, though less severe, symptoms and affects only the colon and rectum.
What causes it: These are autoimmune disorders in which the immune system designed to guard against bacteria, viruses and other foreign invaders turns on itself. The result: chronic inflammation, scarring and blockage. Since it can be hard to absorb key nutrients, such as vitamin B-12, you may be at risk for pernicious anemia.
The fix: Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis cannot be cured, but you can tame symptoms with a combination of lifestyle changes and medications, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drugs, plus over-the-counter meds for diarrhea and constipation. Stop smoking, ramp up fluids, exercise and experiment to see which foods you can tolerate. Some find that dairy products worsen symptoms others can’t eat high-fiber grains and vegetables. Eating small meals gives the body time to digest.
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