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.
Causes Of Abdominal Pain And Diarrhea In Pregnant People
Pregnant people are especially prone to abdominal pain and diarrhea. One common reason is that many people make changes to their diet when they find out theyre pregnant. This can cause digestive trouble.
If youre pregnant, you may also start having sensitivities to particular foods. This can include foods you eat on a regular basis, resulting in abdominal pain and diarrhea. On top of that, hormone changes in your reproductive system that occur during pregnancy may also cause these symptoms.
Seek medical help if youre having abdominal pain and diarrhea that last for 3 days, if the pain grows increasingly worse over a 24-hour period, or if its accompanied by any of these symptoms:
- frequent nausea or vomiting
- a sustained fever of 101°F for adults or 100.4°F for children
- stool that contains blood or dried blood, which looks like wet coffee grounds
- an inability to keep food down
- extreme thirst or dry mouth
- an inability to speak or see
- mental confusion or loss of consciousness
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- swelling of the genitals
- external bleeding
Diarrhea can be more dangerous for infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. In these cases, discuss symptoms with a doctor.
If you dont have a primary care doctor, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
So Does Omicron Cause Stomach Pain
Experts say it can. In certain individuals, COVID-19 can cause gastrointestinal symptomsits not common but it does occur, says infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. This, he says, is usually accompanied by diarrhea.
Omicronand other COVID-19 variantscan be detected in your poop and even multiply in the mucus membranes that line your intestinal tract, says William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. That can cause inflammation and cramping, he says. And that could cause abdominal pain.
Dr. Schaffner says, though, that this is rarely serious and tends to come and go when you have COVID-19.
But if you develop stomach pain and other gastrointestinal issues, dont automatically assume that its COVID-19, says Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York. The Zoe study pointed out that some people who reported gastrointestinal symptoms also tested negative for COVID-19, suggesting they had a stomach bug like norovirus or gastroenteritis. Since people are getting out more than they have in the past and mask mandates are lifting in many states, Dr. Russo points out that its entirely possible to catch a stomach bug instead of COVID-19.
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Why Does My Stomach Hurt
There are numerous reasons for abdominal pain. It can come from any of the organs in your belly gallbladder, pancreas, liver, stomach and intestines or the abdominal wall the outer shell of the body. Sometimes you feel the pain in your belly, but its actually coming from the chest, back or pelvis.
Abdominal wall pain is common and easy to miss as healthcare professionals may direct their attention to internal organs as a cause of the pain. Once the abdominal wall is considered as a suspect, it is generally easy to nail down this diagnosis. If a patient strains the ab wall muscles from exertion, he may tell his doctor that he has right sided stomach pain. Clearly, this pain is not caused by a diseased internal organ such as the gallbladder or the stomach.
Healthcare providers can often determine where pain is coming from by taking a detailed history from you. Depending upon the physicians style, you may be simply asked to relate your medical story in your own words as a narrative. Other physicians may prefer to ask a series of detailed questions. Others may utilize both techniques. This medical history is paramount, even more important than the physical examination. After the history and physical, certain diagnostic tests may be advised to make an accurate diagnosis.
What Causes Stomach Ache
Oftentimes, the most common cause of stomach ache involves digestive issues. It is due to relatively harmless gastrointestinal conditions such as indigestion, gas, and constipation. Sometimes, even stress and anxiety can lead to stomach pain in most people.
However, it is best to rule out other medical conditions, as stomach ache can be due to infections, malignancy, inflammation, trauma, obstruction, and other abnormal issues. At times, life-threatening health concerns such as trauma, abdominal aortic aneurysm, pleading peptic ulcer, etc. can also cause stomach ache.
Additionally, infections in other body systems such as the endocrine, nervous, reproductive, and urinary, can cause stomach pain. We have discussed the causes of stomach ache in the following categories:
Pulmonary embolism, if there upper-left side stomach pain or pain in the right side of the stomach
When To Call Your Healthcare Provider
Some kinds of stomach pain need immediate attention. With others, you can call or visit your healthcare provider. It can be hard to know what you should do. Listen to your body and trust your instincts if you’re not sure.
If you have any of these symptoms along with stomach pain, call your healthcare provider within a day or two:
- Excessive vaginal bleeding or blood clots
- Vaginal bleeding that lasts for longer than usual
You should also call your healthcare provider if you have stomach pain while you are being treated for cancer.
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.
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A More Serious Condition Such As Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a common condition that causes abdominal pain with bloating, diarrhea or constipation. The cause of IBS is unknown, but it may be brought on by certain triggers, including:
- Bacterial infections
- Food sensitivity
- Stressful events
If you think you may have IBS, reach out to your doctor for an evaluation. Many times, lifestyle modifications and medicines can help ease symptoms. You may also try some at-home techniques to relieve your bloating.
When To Call Your Doctor For Omicron Stomach Pain
Stomach pain caused by Omicron shouldnt be overly intense. But, if youre having diarrhea thats severe along with it, youve spotted blood in your poop, youre dehydrated, or youre having trouble controlling when you go, Dr. Chen recommends calling your doctor.
Ditto if your pain becomes severe and persists. The last thing we want is for you to have Omicron and get appendicitis or some other illness on top of it that youre mistakenly attributing to Omicron, Dr. Schaffner says. Severity and persistence matter.
This article is accurate as of press time. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves and the scientific communitys understanding of the novel coronavirus develops, some of the information may have changed since it was last updated. While we aim to keep all of our stories up to date, please visit online resources provided by the CDC, WHO, and your local public health department to stay informed on the latest news. Always talk to your doctor for professional medical advice.
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Symptoms Of Abdominal Pain In Adults
The type of pain can vary greatly. When abdominal pain occurs, it can:
- be sharp, dull, stabbing, cramp-like, twisting or fit many other descriptions
- be brief, come and go in waves, or it can be constant
- make you throw up
- make you want to stay still or make you so restless that you pace around trying to find just the right position
- vary from a minor problem to one needing urgent surgery.
Taking Care Of Yourself At Home
Most abdominal pain goes away without special treatment. Be guided by your doctor, but there are some things you can do to help ease the pain, including:
- Place a hot water bottle or heated wheat bag on your abdomen.
- Soak in a warm bath. Take care not to scald yourself.
- Drink plenty of clear fluids such as water.
- Reduce your intake of coffee, tea and alcohol as these can make the pain worse.
- When you are allowed to eat again, start with clear liquids, then progress to bland foods such as crackers, rice, bananas or toast. Your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Try over-the-counter antacids, to help reduce some types of pain.
- Take mild painkillers such as paracetamol. Please check the packet for the right dose. Avoid aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs unless advised to take them by a doctor. These drugs can make some types of abdominal pain worse.
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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.
Foods That Can Cause An Upset Stomach
If your stomach pain is a food allergy or intolerance, then youll often experience cramps and diarrhea along with abdominal discomfort.
Although its not a pleasant experience, these symptoms usually show up relatively quickly after eating the offending food.
There are many common foods that can cause an upset stomach in some people when eaten in large quantities or at the wrong time. These include:
crackers, toast, plain biscuits
fatty or fried foods
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What Kind Of Doctor Treats Abdominal Pain In Adults
Abdominal pain can be treated by a variety of doctors depending on the cause of the pain. It is usually best to start off with a primary care physician who can start the process of diagnosing the origin of the pain. Depending on the final diagnosis you will be treated by a primary care doctor or referred to a surgeon , gastroenterologist, or gynecologist. If the pain is severe you might end up in the emergency department where an emergency medicine physician will be the first one to take care of you.
What Are The Gut
Recent studies have shown that several Omicron positive patients suffer from gut-related problems like Nausea, Diarrhoea, Vomiting, Abdominal pain, Heartburn, Bloating.
“We know that this virus travels to different parts of the body. It’s possible that Omicron or another variant is attacking the gut. And this would not be showing in the nose – so you could have a gut infection but not show up as positive,” Tim Spector, ZOE Covid Symptom Study’s Professor, told The Sun.
However, even before the discovery of Omicron, several people complained of stomach aches when they contracted COVID. So this is not a new symptom, but it is lesser known.
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Excess Gas Can Build Up
Gas is a normal part of digestion, but if it builds up in your intestines, it may cause bloating and pain. Gas happens when food that is not digested is broken down in your colon. This process produces methane and hydrogen, which you pass naturally as gas.
If you do experience bloating due to gas, modifying your food intake may help. Here are some common drinks and foods that can cause bloating:
- Foods high in fiber or fat
- Fried and spicy dishes
- Carbonated drinks, such as soda or beer
- Lactose found in milk, cheese and yogurts
Over-the-counter supplements can even trigger bloating.
When Stomach Pain Is An Emergency
Stomach pain can sometimes be caused by a life-threatening condition. Some examples are:
- Bowel obstruction, which is when food or waste blocks the intestine
- Bowel perforation, which is a hole in the intestine that leaks food material
These emergencies usually cause pain that feels extreme. Your stomach pain may be urgent if:
- You are pregnant
- Your pain started within a week of abdominal surgery
- Your pain started after a procedure in your stomach area, such as an endoscopy
- You have ever had surgery on your digestive tract, such as gastric bypass, a colostomy, or a bowel resection
- Your pain started shortly after an abdominal trauma
- Your abdomen is bruised or rapidly expanding
Even if you don’t have these symptoms, get help if you feel unusually severe pain.
Sometimes stomach pain is mild at first but gets worse after a few hours. You may also develop other symptoms. Get help right away if you have any of these symptoms along with stomach pain:
- Extremely hard abdomen
- Inability to have a bowel movement, along with vomiting
- Pain in neck, shoulder, or between shoulder blades
- Vision changes
If you have these symptoms, call for an ambulance or have someone drive you to the emergency room. You should not “wait and see” or take medicine for the pain. Get help right away.
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What Is Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain is discomfort anywhere in your belly from ribs to pelvis. Its often called stomach pain or a stomach ache, although the pain can be coming from any number of internal organs besides your stomach.
A brief episode of pain is called acute, which means ‘of recent onset.’ When you have abdominal pain for three months or longer, its considered a chronic or ongoing problem, although this time period is not exact. For example, acute appendicitis is nearly always an acute condition, in contrast to irritable bowel syndrome, which may result in chronic cramping that can span years or longer.
Abdominal pain comes in many forms, and may range from cramps that come and go to sudden, stabbing pains to constant, dull abdominal aching. Even mild pain can be an early sign of a serious condition, which is why healthcare providers often monitor these patients for changes in their conditions.
Keep in mind that abdominal pain is a subjective symptom that cannot be reliably measured by healthcare professionals. The intensity of the pain is what you say that it is.
Stomach Or Peptic Ulcers
Ulcers or wounds that will not heal tend to cause severe and persistent abdominal pain. It can also lead to bloating, indigestion, and weight loss.
The most common causes of stomach and peptic ulcers are the bacteria H. pylori and the overuse or continued use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications .
If you would like to know more about stomach ulcers, click here.
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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
Different Types Of Stomach Pain And How To Treat Them
Having a tummy ache is one of the most common human medical experiences. Whether from eating too much junk food as a kid or acquiring some kind of virus, we all know what its like to suddenly be racked with stomach problems. Its also pretty universally understood that not all stomach pain is the same. By considering the type and location and severity of the pain, and by noting any accompanying symptoms, its possible to narrow down the possible causes. Below are 8 different kinds of stomach pain that range from relatively common to relatively rare:
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