What Are The Potential Complications Of Abdominal Pain
Complications of abdominal pain depend on the underlying cause, but can range from missed school or work to malnutrition to life-threatening infections. Getting an accurate diagnosis and following your treatment plan will help you avoid complications. Over time, abdominal pain can lead to serious complications including:
- due to blood loss
- Dehydration due to loss of fluids
- Organ failure
If Stomach Pain And Diarrhea Are Ongoing
When you have stomach upset related to infection, food intake, or overeating, it will likely pass in a matter of days or a week. If you experience ongoing diarrhea and stomach upset, however, it may be indicative of a medical problem such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease . IBS is a non-serious condition, as it does not damage the digestive tract, but still can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and bloating. To improve quality of life, patients should reduce their stress levels, make some dietary changes as advised by their physician, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly. However, a doctor should evaluate you for persistent diarrhea to confirm it is IBS and not a more serious issue.
IBD, on the other hand, can cause damage to the digestive tract and requires more treatment than IBS. Inflammatory bowel disease is a collective name for several GI conditions, including ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease. Beyond cramps and diarrhea, you may also experience fatigue, weight loss, and blood in the stool. There is no cure for IBD, but doctors can help manage symptoms and inflammation with lifestyle changes and pharmacotherapy to help keep the disease under control.
Vague Upper Abdominal Pain Associated With Nausea And Belching
Sometimes stomach pain is hard to identify or comes with multiple symptoms. Vague pain in the upper and mid-abdominal area that is linked to nausea, burping, or belching could be signs of a heart attack, particularly in older patients. Physicians say tests like an ECG or cardiac markers can be lifesaving. They also warn that vomiting with back or jaw pain and shortness of breath can also be a sign of a life-threatening emergency.
When To Go To The Er With Stomach Pain
You should seek immediate medical attention or go to the ER if you have:
- Constant or severe abdominal pain
- Pain associated with a high fever
- Changes in pain intensity or location, such as going from a dull ache to a sharp stab or starting in one area and radiating to another
- Pain accompanied by other serious or unusual symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or change in behavior
- Pain localized to one particular area
- Right lower quadrant could indicate appendicitis
- Right upper quadrant could indicate cholecystitis or a gallbladder infection
- Left lower quadrant could indicate diverticulitis or a colon infection
Crampy Pain With Diarrhea Or Constipation
Lower “crampy” abdominal pain accompanied by bloating and diarrhea or constipation can be signs of irritable bowel syndrome , says Singh. “It’s exceptionally common and affects 15% of the U.S. population, particularly younger women, although it can happen at any age.” Symptoms of IBS can usually be controlled by managing diet, lifestyle, and stress. Medication and counseling may be needed in some cases.
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When Stomach Pain Is An Emergency
Stomach pain can be caused by a life-threatening condition, such as appendicitis, bowel obstruction , or a bowel perforation .
These emergencies usually cause very noticeable and often intolerable signs and symptoms. Your stomach pain is probably a sign of an urgent medical problem if:
- You are pregnant
- Your pain started within a week of having abdominal surgery or a gastrointestinal procedure
- You have ever had a gastric bypass, a colostomy, or a bowel resection
- Your pain started shortly after you experienced severe abdominal trauma
- Your abdomen appears bruised or is rapidly expanding in size
Your stomach pain may be mild in the beginning, and then you may develop associated symptoms after a few hours. You should get help immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms along with your stomach pain:
- Abdomen is extremely hard
- Inability to have a bowel movement accompanied by vomiting
- Pain in neck, shoulder or between shoulder blades
- Vision changes
What To Do If Youre Experiencing Chronic Stomach Pain Or Diarrhea
Stomach pain and diarrhea are often short-lived and require no special treatment.
However, there is a long list of medical conditions and medications that can cause GI symptoms to last for weeks.
These include infections, inflammatory or autoimmune conditions, food sensitivities or allergies, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, stress and anxiety, and medications like NSAIDs and antibiotics.
Because there are many different reasons for chronic stomach pain and diarrhea, its important to check with a healthcare provider to detect an underlying cause.
Knowing the root of your symptoms will lead to an effective treatment and some much needed relief.
About Joe Leech, Dietitian
Joe Leech is a university-qualified dietitian from Australia.
He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in exercise science, followed by a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2011.
Learn more about him on the About page.
Joe Leech, Dietitian
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What You Need To Know:
The cause of severe stomach pain and diarrhea depends on the time frame of your symptom.
The recent onset of severe abdominal pain and diarrhea in the middle of the night is often due to infections and foodborne illnesses . Chronic or recurrent incursions of night diarrhea and stomach pain have a wider ranger of the possible cause.
Today, You will learn about the distinguishing features of each cause. Although the article is written by a gastroenterologist, dont use it as a substitute for medical advice.
Causes of acute attack:
- An acute attack of food intolerance or allergy.
- Recent intake of a drug that causes diarrhea.
Causes of chronic attacks:
- Less frequent causes: Endocrinal disease, SIBO, chronic pancreatitis, diabetes, and others.
Below, we will explain the symptoms & features of the common causes.
When Should You See A Doctor For Abdominal Pain
You should see a doctor for abdominal pain if it is severe or for mild abdominal pain lasting more than a week . So-called red flag symptoms that may indicate a serious or life-threatening condition include:
- Abdomen is stiff or hard and tender when you or someone else touches it
- Do certain foods or activities seem to make it worse?
- Have you taken any over-the-counter medications for your pain? What is the effect?
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Gut Feeling: How To Know If Stomach Pain Is Serious
Abdominal pain is the single leading reason for emergency room visits in the U.S. according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, accounting for more than 12 million of the nearly 139 million annual ER visits. Most people call it stomach pain, but it’s not always a stomach problem. Your abdomen holds many other organs, too, including your intestines , pancreas, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, spleen and appendix.
So its not surprising that, just as with chest pain or a headache, it can be difficult to tell whats really going on in there when your tummy’s not feeling well. Add in other vague symptoms such as nausea and vomiting and you could have the stomach flu, food poisoning, gallstones, kidney stones or any number of other conditions.
Here are some ways to tell what the source of your pain is and when you should seek medical care.
Sharp Pain In Stomach
Indigestion, the stomach influenza, and gastrointestinal disorder are common causes of acute diarrhea and abdominal pain. In these cases, symptoms last for less than four days and typically solve without medical treatment.
Infections or diseases that impact the organs in your abdominal area can also cause pain with diarrhea. Organs in the abdomen include your intestines, kidneys, appendix, spleen, stomach, gallbladder, liver, pancreas.
Diarrhea and abdominal pain that last for more than a week or that often reoccur might suggest an intestinal disease or disorder. You should speak to your doctor if youve experienced these symptoms for more than a week or on a repeating basis.
The above conditions and conditions can cause swelling of different parts of the gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach and intestinal tracts. Inflammation of the digestive system can cause cramps and disrupt normal digestive procedures. This typically results in abdominal pain and diarrhea.
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Medically Unexplained Abdominal Pain
Somatoform symptom disorder is a psychiatric illness that can present with chronic GI symptoms including abdominal pain and abnormal bowel movements.
In SSD, the physical symptoms cannot be fully explained by an underlying medical illness. This condition is also sometimes referred to as functional abdominal pain .
Summary: Cancer, hernias, alcohol abuse and stress and anxiety are some of the other possible causes of chronic stomach pain and diarrhea. Determining the exact cause will require a trip to a healthcare professional.
How To Treat Stomach Pain Cramping And Diarrhea
There are many effective home remedies to help effectively treat the symptoms of stomach aches and pain that are accompanied by diarrhea.
The best kind of natural ingredients to use if you have stomach pain and diarrhea are ones that help reduce stomach spasms and soothe irritation. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Chamomile. Research has shown that chamomile contains anti-spasmodic properties and can help to relieve stomach pain. The benefits of chamomile also help reduce the frequency of loose stool and improve symptoms of digestive upset.27
Chamomile tea and ginger tea are just 2 herbal teas that can help improve your digestion.
When you feel that your symptoms of an upset stomach and loose stools are getting better, you should switch to a bland diet. This contains foods that are low in fiber and donât place a burden on your digestion.
At the same, you should avoid fatty or spicy foods to prevent burning bowel movements and irritation of the extra-sensitive lining of your digestive system.
For more information, please check out my article on how to naturally get rid of diarrhea based on science.
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Sudden Severe Stomach Pain And Diarrhea Can Be Quite Scary
Acute severe abdominal pain and diarrhea implies severe intestinal inflammation, says Larry Good, MD, a practicing gastroenterologist for 40+ years. He has a private practice based in Lynbrook, NY and is affiliated with Concierge Choice Physicians, a leading provider of personalized care in the U.S.
It is important to understand the difference between the stomach and the abdomen, continues Dr. Good.
Of course, when a person feels intense pain in this area, the term stomach and abdominal become interchangeable to that person, because the way they see it, stomach refers to the section of their body between their bellybutton and sternum.
Severe abdominal pain with urgency to defecate is usually caused by an intestinal infection or by a chronic inflammatory disorder like ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease.
Causes Of Recurrent Stomach Pains
- Stress or Worries. The most common cause of frequent stomach pains is stress. Over 10% of children have a “worried stomach.” These children tend to be sensitive and too serious. They often are model children. This can make them more at risk to the normal stresses of life. Examples of these events are changing schools, moving or family fights. The pain is in the pit of the stomach or near the belly button. The pain is real.
- Abdominal Migraine. Attacks of stomach pain and vomiting with sudden onset and offset. Often occur in children who later develop migraine headaches. Strongly genetic.
- Functional Abdominal Pains. Functional means the stomach pains are due to a sensitive GI tract. The GI tract is free of any disease.
- School Avoidance. Stomach pains that mainly occur in the morning on school days. They keep the child from going to school.
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When Should You Be Concerned
Stomach cramps and diarrhea can be mild, fleeting and require no treatment.
However, if theyre accompanied by one of the following symptoms, its important to seek medical attention:
- Significant weight loss
- Diarrhea that persists for more than two days
- Severe pain
- High fever or chronic low-grade fever
- Chest, neck, jaw or arm pain
- Racing heartbeat
- Black, tarry stools
- Signs of dehydration
Summary: When stomach pain or diarrhea is accompanied by signs of dehydration, significant weight loss or other serious medical conditions, its important to seek medical attention.
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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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
What Causes Abdominal Pain
Common causes of abdominal pain often involve the digestive system. Relatively harmless gastrointestinal conditions include indigestion, gas and constipation. Stress and anxiety can also cause general abdominal pain. Sometimes children say they have a because they are trying to avoid a stressful or frightening situation, such as, trying to miss school to avoid issues with peers or friends.
However, it is always important to consider and rule out the possibility of physical causes, as abdominal pain can be from infection, malignancy, inflammation, trauma, obstruction, and other abnormal processes.
Life-threatening conditions, such as trauma, , and a bleeding peptic ulcer can cause abdominal pain and should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Conditions involving other body systems, such as the endocrine, nervous, reproductive, and urinary systems, can also cause abdominal pain.
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When To Call The Doctor
If you experience symptoms for more than a week, its wise to make a doctors appointment. However, if you have severe symptoms at any point throughout, it is also a good idea to be seen. Other symptoms that warrant a doctor visit include high fever, nausea and vomiting, confusion, difficulty speaking, vision problems, rapid heart rate, and seizures. While the most common symptoms of diarrhea and stomach problems are flu, food reactions, medications, stress, alcohol consumption, IBD, and IBS, these conditions can also be indicative of cancer, cystic fibrosis, appendicitis, or intestinal obstruction. If you have persistent symptoms, its best to be safe and be seen.
If you need to see a doctor for diarrhea and abdominal pain, or you are experiencing other GI upset, book an appointment at Carolina Digestive today.
What Causes Severe Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain is a common human experience. The abdomen contains many organs, including those belonging to the digestive, the reproductive and the urinary systems. Aside from these, blood vessels, muscles, nerves and other tissues are found in the abdomen, which may become a source of pain. Usual causes of pain in the abdomen include infections, trapped wind , trauma, functional disorders, or other conditions affecting the various organs and systems. Many types of mild to moderate cases of abdominal pain are relieved by resting or taking some medications or home remedies, but severe abdominal pain, which occurs suddenly and progressively worsens, may need immediate medical attention.
Possible Causes of Sudden, Severe Abdominal Pain
The most common causes of sudden, severe abdominal pain include:
Other possible causes include:
Endometriosis – severe pelvic pain associated with menstrual periods, heavy vaginal bleeding, bloating and nausea
Acute pancreatitis – upper abdominal pain that radiates to the back, associated with nausea, vomiting and abdominal tenderness
Crohn’s disease – a chronic condition that can have acute episodes of severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, blood in stools and fever.
Twisted ovarian cyst – a large ovarian cyst may move out of position and twist, causing severe pain, vomiting and fever
Intestinal obstruction – may cause pain, bloating and inability to pass gas or stools
When to Seek Help
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What Causes Explosive Diarrhea In Adults
Severe diarrhea often occurs as an acute episode of chronic diarrhea, but it can be caused by one of the factors below.
Infectious diarrhea: This is a viral condition more commonly known as the stomach flu. Patients may also experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and a fever. Viral gastrointestinal conditions usually affect people living in close quarters, such as hospitals and nursing homes as well as cruise ship passengers and school students. Severe diarrhea can also be brought about by bacterial infections, which are usually triggered by salmonella and E. coli found in contaminated food and drinks.Food poisoning: When you consume food that contains bacterial toxins, the lining of your bowels gets irritated. Diarrhea is usually the final symptom of food poisoning, preceded by pain, nausea, and severe vomiting. In the case of food poisoning, you can actually avoid diarrhea if all of the contaminated food is expelled before reaching the intestines.
Drugs: Laxatives, antacids containing magnesium, drugs with compounds that act on the bowels, heartburn, and acid reflux medications, chemotherapy drugs, and even antibiotics can wreak havoc on your digestion and cause severe diarrhea.
Other less common causes of severe diarrhea include inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and overconsumption of irritating foods.