When To Contact A Medical Professional
Get medical help right away or call your local emergency number if you:
- Are currently being treated for cancer
- Are unable to pass stool, especially if you are also vomiting
- Are vomiting blood or have blood in your stool
- Have chest, neck, or shoulder pain
- Have sudden, sharp abdominal pain
- Have pain in, or between, your shoulder blades with nausea
- Have tenderness in your belly, or your belly is rigid and hard to the touch
- Are pregnant or could be pregnant
- Had a recent injury to your abdomen
- Have difficulty breathing
- Abdominal discomfort that lasts 1 week or longer
- Abdominal pain that does not improve in 24 to 48 hours, or becomes more severe and frequent and occurs with nausea and vomiting
- Bloating that persists for more than 2 days
- Burning sensation when you urinate or frequent urination
- Diarrhea for more than 5 days
- Fever, over 100°F for adults or 100.4°F for children, with pain
- Prolonged poor appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
Diagnosis Of Lower Abdominal Cramping
Sometimes the doctor can diagnose what causes cramping at lower abdomen from a patient’s medical history and physical examination. However, he may also need to do some laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis or to rule out other possible conditions. These diagnostic tests may include:
- Blood tests
- CT scan of the abdomen
- Magnetic resonance imaging
Causes Of Lower Abdominal Cramping
Lower Left Side Pain
The abdominal organs found in the lower left abdomen include a portion of the descending colon , part of the small intestine, the spleen, the lower portion of the left kidney, the left ureter, ovary and fallopian tube, the urinary bladder and all the nerves, blood vessels muscles and skin in the left lower quadrant.
An abnormal condition in any of these organs may result in abdominal cramping in the left lower side, including:
- Uterine disorders, such as myoma or endometriosis
- Intestinal obstruction
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Ruptured spleen
Lower Right Side Pain
The organs found in the right lower side of the abdomen include the appendix, the ascending colon, part of the large intestine, the right ovary and fallopian tube, parts of the small intestine, the lower portion of the right kidney and the ureter. Pain in the right lower quadrant may be caused by:
- Mesenteric lymphadenitis
- Colon cancer
- Uterine disorders, such as myoma or endometriosis
- Intestinal obstruction
Other Causes of Lower Abdominal Cramps
- Trapped wind in the gut
- Strenuous exercise causing muscle pain
- Psoas abscess
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Recommended Reading: How To Tighten My Stomach
Causes Of Acute Stomach Pain
- Eating Too Much. Eating too much can cause an upset stomach and mild stomach pain.
- Hunger Pains. Younger children may complain of stomach pain when they are hungry.
- GI Virus . A GI virus can cause stomach cramps as well as vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- Food Poisoning. This causes sudden vomiting and/or diarrhea within hours after eating the bad food. It is caused by toxins from germs growing in foods left out too long. Most often, symptoms go away in less than 24 hours. It often can be treated at home without the need for medical care.
- Constipation. The need to pass a stool may cause cramps in the lower abdomen.
- Strep Throat. A strep throat infection causes 10% of new onset stomach pain with fever.
- Bladder Infection. Bladder infections usually present with painful urination, urgency and bad smelling urine. Sometimes the only symptom is pain in the lower abdomen.
- Appendicitis . Suspect appendicitis if pain is low on the right side and walks bent over. Other signs are the child won’t hop and wants to lie still.
- Intussusception . Sudden attacks of severe pain that switch back and forth with periods of calm. Caused by one segment of bowel telescoping into a lower piece of bowel. Peak age is 6 months to 2 years.
How Do Doctors Find The Cause Of A Bellyache
Your doctor will first ask you some questions, examine you, and maybe do some tests. Your doctor may suggest you take some medicine or might give you special instructions for eating to help your body heal the bellyache.
If it turns out that you have appendicitis, you will need an operation called an appendectomy .
If stress is behind your stomach problems, your doctor may recommend a specialist, such as a psychologist. These experts can help kids figure out the source of the stress and help them come up with some ideas for how to fix the problems or handle them better.
Also Check: What To Feed Baby With Stomach Virus
Prevention Of Abdominal Pain
In many cases, abdominal pain can be prevented by adopting lifestyle and dietary choices that address the cause of your pain. Constipation, digestive upset, and even abdominal injury can often be prevented.
The following steps may help you prevent abdominal pain:
Drink plenty of water.
Develop regular bowel habits. Many people can train themselves to have regular bowel movements to help avoid constipation.
Follow a balanced, fiber-filled diet. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich foods, like whole grains, can help support healthy digestion and reduce constipation.
Eat regularly and slowly. Eating moderately-sized meals, instead of waiting until youre very hungry and stuffing yourself, can help avoid pain from overeating or eating on an empty stomach.
Exercise regularly. Getting enough physical activity can help prevent constipation and strengthen your abdominal muscles, which may help prevent straining.
Wear a seatbelt properly.
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.
Was this article helpful?
You May Like: What Diet Is Best For Stomach Fat
Should I See A Doctor If I Get Stomach Pains When I Am Stressed
You should be seeing your primary care physician at least once a year, and you should tell them if you often have stomach pain or GI discomfort.
If your primary care physician identifies symptoms of a chronic GI condition or other warning signs, they may refer you to a gastroenterologist like myself. A gastroenterologist can help determine if your stomach pain or GI symptoms are related to stress, or due to another condition that requires different treatment.
Using Other Techniques To Relieve Discomfort
Recommended Reading: How To Stop Stomach Acid Burning Throat
Diagnosis Of Abdominal Pain In Adults
If examinations and tests are needed, these may include:
- a rectal exam to check for hidden blood or other problems
- if you are a man, the doctor may check your penis and scrotum
- if you are a woman, the doctor may do a pelvic exam to check for problems in your womb , fallopian tubes and ovaries, and do a pregnancy test
- a blood test to look for infection or bleeding
- other blood tests may look at enzymes in the liver, pancreas and heart to sort out which organ may be involved
- a urine test to look for a urine infection or blood
- an ECG to rule out a heart attack
- other tests, including x-ray, ultrasound or CT scan
- sometimes you may be referred to another doctor to help find the cause of the problem.
- endoscopy is an examination where a flexible tube with a light and video camera at the tip is used to examine some internal organs without the need for surgery. Different names are used depending on which organ is being looked at.
If you do have tests, the doctor will explain the results to you. Some results may take a number of days to come back and these will be sent to your local doctor.
Stomach Pain And Long
Because of the extra acid in your stomach and the changes to the way your body processes nutrients, the stomach pain from anxiety can be a problem if left untreated. Ulcers are just one example. Some people experience heartburn from anxiety, and others eat less often, giving their body fewer nutrients.
The stomach pain from anxiety and stress is rarely dangerous, but it is still important to treat it, because the effects on your long-term health when it is left untreated may be harder to manage.
You May Like: What Causes Lower Stomach Cramps
Signs And Symptoms Of Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain may take several different forms. In addition to how severe it is, abdominal pain can be described in the following ways:
Generalized Pain This refers to pain felt in more than half of your abdominal area, and is typical of stomach viruses, indigestion, or gas as the cause of your pain.
Cramping This type of pain come and goes, or changes in its severity or perceived position in your abdomen. Cramping is rarely serious and is typical of gas, passing a stool, or menstruation as the cause of your pain.
Its important to call your doctor if your abdominal pain is so severe that you cant move without feeling more pain, or sit still in a comfortable position.
- Nausea and vomiting that doesnt resolve
- Weight loss
- Abdomen very tender to touch
- Swollen abdomen
When To Make An Appointment To See Your Doctor
Schedule an appointment to see your doctor if:
- Your stomach pain doesnt go away within a couple of days.
- The pain comes back after going away.
- Symptoms like diarrhea dont go away within a couple of days.
- Youre urinating more or less often, and/or its painful.
- You have unintended weight loss.
Know your body, Dr. Kingsley says. If you start having pain that you have not had before and does not go away, you should contact your doctor to be evaluated further.
Bottom line: Trust your gut! Contact your doctor if youre concerned about lingering or unusual stomach pain.
Editor’s Note: This infographic was originally published on June 24, 2014.
You May Like: How To Edit Stomach In Photoshop
In General What Conditions Do Gastroenterologists Treat
Gastroenterologists can evaluate for and treat a wide variety of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease , gastroesophageal reflux disease , celiac disease, peptic ulcer disease, obesity and more. GI doctors also routinely perform screenings for colon cancer.
My area of specialty is in prevention and early detection of cancers such as colorectal, gastric and pancreatic cancer. I enjoy helping patients, especially those with a family history, understand their risk for cancer while offering genetic testing, screening and more.
Overall, its important for patients to openly discuss stress and GI symptoms with their doctors. Primary care doctors can help manage stress and treat symptoms, but in some cases it may be necessary to see a gastroenterologist to evaluate for other conditions.
Heres The Best Way To Cure An Upset Stomach
A stomach ache can strike for all kinds of reasons, from contaminated food to chronic disease. It passes, sure, but the pain, headache, diarrhea, vomiting and other classic symptoms of stomach flu ensure a crummy couple of days
It can be tough to know what to put in your body when youre dealing with an upset stomach, but there are a few surefire foods. Ginger, scientifically, is a good place to start. Ginger and also turmeric, which is a member of the ginger family, seem to be anti-inflammatory, says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of digestive diseases at UCLA. Both ginger and turmeric are roots, he says, and may have developed special antibacterial properties in order to withstand contamination from microorganisms in soil. Skip the sugary commercial ginger ales, which contain little real ginger, and sip water infused with ginger or turmeric instead, he advises.
Once youve stopped vomiting and your stomach feels a bit better, you will want to eat. But dont sit down for a big meal nibble food throughout the day instead, Murray explains.
Another issue is that nearly all the research linking probiotics to relief of gut-related issues has looked at freeze-dried probiotics in capsules or tablets, Mason says. Eating yogurt or Kefir or other probiotic foods to relieve symptoms may be effective, but that hasnt yet been shown.
Recommended Reading: How To Cure Stomach Ache For Kids
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.
Finding The Source Of Your Stomach Cramps
Try to pinpoint the area of your pain. Doing this is important from the point of view of knowing how to treat them or knowing whether a doctors visit is essential. Abdominal pain is considered to be pain felt anywhere from below your ribs to your pelvis. The following indicators might assist you:
- Sharp, localized pains that stab or pierce can be a sign of a very serious condition such as appendicitis or a ruptured organ.
- A dull, generally-spread pain might be indicative that your cramps, while painful, are not dangerous, but may require off the counter medication.
- Menstrual cramps are clearly experienced only by those of menstruating age. These cramps usually occur in the first days of menstruation and do not last more than a few days.
- Stomach cramps after eating a large amount of food quickly, greasy food, foods youre allergic to, etc., can indicate a digestive system reaction.
- Lower back pain that persists might be a sign of kidney stones. See your doctor for advice.
- Pain and burning sensations on urinating or passing stools can be a sign of a urinary tract infection or constipation.
- Muscle spasms can bring about cramps when exercising or swimming.
Recommended Reading: What To Eat With Upset Stomach And Nausea
Why Does Stress Cause Stomach Pain Or Gi Discomfort
We know through research there is a strong connection between our brain and our gut through the central nervous system. The enteric nervous system an out-branching of the central nervous system serves the GI tract, making a direct connection between our brain and gastrointestinal system. That connection can cause normal physiologic processes to be interpreted as painful under stressful or anxiety-provoking situations.
When were stressed, hormones and neurotransmitters are released in the body. This can negatively impact gut motility, or the way our intestines and stomach squeeze and move waste through the body. Also, stress can affect the delicate balance of bacteria in our gut, causing GI discomfort.
People experiencing chronic stress may also eat more or eat unhealthy foods with a higher amount of natural and artificial sugar that is poorly digested and causes GI distress. People may also smoke and drink more alcohol or caffeine than normal which can cause symptoms.
Why Electrolyte Loss And Dehydration Probably Dont Cause Muscle Cramps
There are four reasons why losing electrolytes and water probably doesnt cause or isnt the primary cause of your muscle cramps.2-5
1. Sweat contains far more water than it does electrolytes.
When you become dehydrated your blood levels of electrolytes actually rise or stay about the same.6
2. Athletes who get muscle cramps have about the same level of electrolytes and dehydration as athletes who dont cramp.7
In some cases athletes who cramp have slightly higher magnesium levels.8 Other studies have found no relation of any kind between an athletes electrolyte levels and their risk of cramping their risk of cramping was no higher or lower based on their electrolyte levels.9
Athletes who cramp also have about the same level of hydration as athletes who dont.10
Another study found that drinking Gatorade did not prevent people from cramping .11
3. Not all of your muscles cramp.
If your cramps were caused losing too many electrolytes, then all or most of your muscles should cramp not just some of them.
When people develop a real electrolyte deficiency, virtually all of their muscles go into uncontrollable spasms. On the other hand, athletes almost always get cramps in the muscles theyre using the most during their workouts. For example, in one study on ultra-marathon runners over 95% of all cramps occurred in the leg muscles during the race.8
4. Stretching, resting, and drinking pickle juice shouldnt help stop cramps but they do.
Recommended Reading: What To Take When You Have Stomach Pain