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.
Causes Of Abdominal Pain And Diarrhea In Children
Like adults, children often experience abdominal pain and diarrhea because of stomach flu, infections, food allergies, lactose intolerance, or stress. But eating too much can also cause these symptoms.
Some children may have trouble telling the difference between when theyre hungry and when theyre full. This can cause them to overeat. Overeating puts stress on the digestive system, which can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Treatment And Home Remedies For Abdominal Pain
How abdominal pain is treated is highly dependent on the diagnosis. Medications that reduce inflammation may help with stomach pains resulting from ulcers.
But other conditions, like kidney stones, may require more intensive treatment like shock wave lithotripsy. Inflammation of the gall bladder might require gall bladder surgery.
If you and your doctor have determined that your abdominal pain is not the result of a serious medical condition, there are a number of home health remedies that may provide relief. Heres a brief list:
- bitters and soda
- BRAT diet
Not all forms of abdominal pain are preventable. But you can minimize the risk of developing abdominal pain by:
- eating a healthy diet
- exercising regularly
- eating smaller meals
If you have an intestinal disorder, like Crohns disease, follow the diet your doctor has given you to minimize discomfort. If you have GERD, dont eat within 2 hours of bedtime.
Lying down too soon after eating may cause heartburn and abdominal pain. Try waiting at least 2 hours after eating before lying down.
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Learn The Common Causes And Home Remedies For Stomach Pain
My stomach hurts. If you have children, chances are youve heard this statement at least once.
Stomach pain is one of the most common complaints among children and teens. It can range from mild discomfort to severe cramping, burning or nausea. While most cases arent serious, its helpful to know what can cause stomach pain and when to call a doctor.
Here are some of the most frequent causes of stomach problems in small children and teens:
Gas pain or indigestion is common in kids of all ages. Diet often plays a role. Carbonated drinks, such as soda may upset the stomach, especially if the child drinks through a straw. Spicy foods, beans, citrus and caffeine may cause gas.
Younger kids may not know what constipation is or that it can lead to stomach pain. If your child complains of stomach pain around the belly button or the left lower side of the abdomen, ask them when they last pooped, or if theyre having problems doing it.
Too much of anything, from pizza and popcorn to Halloween candy, can cause abdominal pain. Kids often eat quickly and dont realize theyre full until theyve overdone it. Plus, eating too quickly can contribute to discomfort.
Milk allergy is a reaction to a protein in milk that may cause cramps. It is not the same as lactose intolerance.
When to call the pediatrician
Home treatment for tummy aches
Treatment For Lower Abdominal Cramping
Many people experience mild cramping that may later go away on its own. Some mild symptoms are relieved with a few home remedies such as:
- Taking a rest
- Applying heat to the lower abdomen
- Relaxing exercises and deep breathing
- Doing yoga
- Taking over-the-counter medications like pain relievers, antacids, or laxatives
- Taking herbal tea
- Eating rice, bananas, applesauce, and plain crackers
- Avoiding strenuous abdominal exercises
- Avoiding coffee, alcohol, carbonated beverages
- Avoiding eating solid foods for a while
One should consider seeking medical advice when symptoms worsen or persist even after taking some home remedies. You should see a doctor immediately if you also have moderate to severe symptoms like persistent vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding and high fever. Some of these conditions may be life-threatening, leading to conditions like ectopic pregnancy, ruptured spleen, or abdominal aortic aneurysm, which must be treated as emergencies.
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Sharp Abdominal Pain Symptoms
When abdominal pain is severe, it indicates an underlying problem. Severe abdominal pain is often referred to by the medical term acute abdomen. Severe abdominal pain, in some cases, requires emergency care. You know your body best, so if the pain becomes unbearable, seek care immediately. A few other symptoms you may be experiencing in addition to your severe abdominal pain are listed below.
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.
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Causes Of Stomach Cramps
The exact cause of severe stomach cramps can be extensive. In reality, it can be difficult to distinguish the precise cause. Throughout the years, doctors have used the accompanying symptoms to narrow down the possibilities and determine the appropriate course of treatment. Some of the common causes of stomach cramps include constipation, appendicitis, food poisoning, lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, tumors, kidney stones, ulcers and even cancer.
What Causes Stomach Cramps
In many cases, certain foods or changes in diet are to blame. Stomach cramps after eating can be caused by stretching of the stomach after a prolonged fast, a particularly large amount of food, a rapid change in the pH of the stomach or ingestion of any number of toxins. It is most commonly a benign condition that resolves with time.
Infections are another common cause and can spread between people. In other situations, the problem is with the stomach and gastrointestinal organs themselves. Sometimes, unfortunately, the cause remains unknown. You can learn more about what may be causing your stomach cramps in the following sections.
First let’s discuss general categories of causes and then specific conditions.
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Chronic Abdominal Pain And Recurring Abdominal Pain
, MD, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
Chronic abdominal pain is pain that is present for more than 3 months. It may be present all the time or come and go . Chronic abdominal pain usually occurs in children beginning after age 5 years. About 10 to 15% of children aged 5 to 16 years, particularly those aged 8 to 12 years, have chronic or recurring abdominal pain. It is somewhat more common among girls. Chronic abdominal pain is also common among adults, affecting women more often than men.
People with chronic abdominal pain may also have other symptoms, depending on the cause.
What Causes Abdominal Pain In Children
Common causes of abdominal pain in children include:
- trapped wind
- lower urinary tract problems, such as cystitis
Most abdominal pain is mild and will go away without treatment after a few days. However, your child should see a doctor if the pain is severe or doesnt go away, especially when they also have other symptoms, such as a fever. In this case, you should ensure they are monitored closely and they may need further medical assessment.
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Calm Your Mind And Body
When we are in pain, we tend to get anxious. Unfortunately, anxiety can make our pain worse. Taking a few minutes to calm down can be very effective.
Relaxation exercises are a way to break the cycle of anxiety and pain. They offer a way to “turn off” the anxious feelings. Of course, they work better with regular practice, but can still offer some benefits for immediate pain relief.
Three basic types of relaxation exercises are:
With a little experimentation, you can decide which methods work best for you.
Causes Of Abdominal Pain And Diarrhea
Frequent, constant, or severe abdominal pain and diarrhea may indicate a disease or a more serious medical issue. Diarrhea that gets progressively worse and is bloody can also be a sign of a more serious issue. Possible causes of abdominal pain and diarrhea include:
The above conditions and disorders can cause inflammation in different parts of your digestive tract, like the stomach and intestines. When your digestive system is inflamed, you might have cramps and trouble with typical digestive processes. This usually results in abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Abdominal pain and diarrhea that last for more than a week or keep coming back may be a sign of an intestinal disease or disorder. Talk with your doctor if youve experienced these symptoms for more than a week or on a reoccurring basis.
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When Should I See My Doctor
In some cases, you should seek urgent medical attention or consult a doctor if you have abdominal pain.
If you have a sudden, severe, incapacitating pain in your abdomen, go immediately to your nearest emergency department or call triple zero and ask for an ambulance.
You should also seek urgent medical attention if you have pain that:
- is severe and/or getting worse
- has lasted for several hours or more
- wakes you from sleep
- is spreading to your neck, chest or shoulders
- makes it difficult to swallow
Urgent medical attention is also required if you have abdominal pain accompanied by
- unexplained weight loss
- skin that appears yellow
If you are experiencing pain high up in your abdomen that is made worse by exercise it could be angina or a heart attack. If you, or someone near you is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call triple zero immediately and ask for an ambulance.
If you are pregnant and experiencing abdominal pain, check with your doctor or midwife. Abdominal pains are common in pregnancy, but should always be checked out.
If your abdominal pain does not match the situations above, but it is recurrent or persistent , or it started mild but is worsening, you should still consult a doctor.
Treating And Healing Chronic Wounds
Research from 2015 says that scientists have found a way to package antimicrobial compounds from peppermint and cinnamon into tiny capsules that can both kill bacterial biofilms and actively promote healing.
In this way, peppermint and cinnamon could become part of a medicine for treating infected wounds.
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When To See A Doctor About Abdominal Pain
Go straight to your doctor or the emergency department of the nearest hospital if you have any of:
- severe pain
- pain lasting for several hours
- pain and/or vaginal bleeding if you are pregnant
- pain in your scrotum if you are a male
- pain and vomiting or shortness of breath
- pain and vomiting blood
- blood in your bowel motions or urine
- pain that spreads to your chest, neck or shoulder
- fever and sweats
- unable to move your bowels or pass gas
- any other concerns.
When It’s Not An Emergency
If your stomach pain is not severe or long-lasting, and if you’re not having symptoms like those discussed above, the pain may go away on its own.
This kind of pain is often caused by minor problems such as constipation, gas, or something you ate. Waiting a few hours, having a bowel movement, or passing gas may help.
Try taking these steps:
- Limit yourself to clear liquids for a few hours.
- If you have vomiting or diarrhea, stick with the BRAT diet. Eat mild foods until you feel better.
- Avoid foods that are hard to digest. Fatty, fried, or spicy foods can cause stomach pain. So can drinks containing alcohol or caffeine.
- Try an over-the-counter antacid or a product to relieve gas.
- Try to have a bowel movement. Eating raw fruit, vegetables, beans, or high-fiber cereal can help.
- Use a hot water bottle or heating pad. Place the pad on your abdomen for a half hour at a time, and be sure to place a towel under the pad to protect your skin.
Your symptoms may improve within a day or two. If they do not, call your healthcare provider.
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Stomach Cramps With Bloating
Stomach cramps with bloating are often caused by trapped wind, or constipation. This is a very common problem that can be embarrassing, but is easily dealt with. Your pharmacist will be able to recommend a product, which can be bought over the counter to treat the problem. If problems persist, you should see your GP.
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.
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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.
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.
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