Types Of Abdominal Pain You Shouldn’t Ignore
Weve all experienced abdominal pain at some point. While its often just a passing symptom you can ignore, sometimes it can be a sign theres a serious problem.
So, how do you know whether that wrenching pain is just a garden variety stomach upset that will pass as soon as that pesky gas works its way through your system or something much worse?
The clues, experts say, are in the character of the pain how long youve had it, its severity, where its located and whether there are certain symptoms accompanying it.
Lactose Intolerance And Food Allergies
Eating something youre allergic or sensitive to can cause sharp pains in your abdomen as your body struggles to digest it. Sometimes gas and indigestion symptoms will arise if you eat food that your body doesnt agree with.
Unless you have food allergies that put you at risk for anaphylaxis, abdominal pain from food allergies or sensitivities is not an emergency. You may also notice bloating or diarrhea because of eating food your body cant digest properly.
If you have a lactose allergy, speak to your healthcare provider about replacement enzyme pills that may allow you to consume dairy without discomfort.
Prognosis Of Abdominal Pain
How long your abdominal pain lasts, and whether it gets better or worse, will depend on the cause of your pain and how the pain responds to any treatments.
Many forms of abdominal pain tend to respond to self-care measures or simply get better on their own, including pain caused by constipation, food allergies or intolerances, or stomach viruses.
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Types Of Abdominal Pain And What You Can Do
Abdominal pain can occur anywhere between the chest and the lower abdomen and can range from a dull ache to severe pain. Abdominal pain is one of the common reasons people visit urgent care centers and emergency rooms in the 78130 area code of New Braunfels, Texas.
The doctors and the medical professionals at Riverside ER, a 24-hour emergency care center located near you in New Braunfels, Texas, want to educate the public on the symptoms of abdominal pain and the relevant treatment.
There are four types of abdominal pain: upper, lower, right-sided and left-sided. Each type has specific symptoms and causes, and all are discussed below.
What Types Of Pain Are There
Doctors have different words to describe the different types of pain you can feel in the gut. Very broadly, pains may be sharp or stabbing, crampy, colicky or a general dull ache. Colicky means gradually becoming worse, then easing off again. This may happen repeatedly.
Doctors may also be interested in where the pain is and whether the pain seems to be travelling in a certain direction. Having this information and putting it together with other information, such as whether you have been being sick or have had diarrhoea, will help the doctor work out what is wrong.
Pain that comes on suddenly may be called acute. Longer-standing pain is called chronic.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
Sometimes, what seems like one problem food poisoning, for example can turn out to be something more serious, like appendicitis.
- the pain is very strong
- you’re vomiting a lot
- you already have another health condition
- the pain gets worse over time, doesn’t go away, or wakes you up from sleep
Also let the doctor know if you:
- have a fever
- have pain when you pee
- have trouble pooping or peeing
- have blood in your poop or pee
- think the belly pain is from an injury
- might be pregnant
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
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When To Call Your Doctor
If you have severe or unusual menstrual cramps, or cramping that lasts more than 2 or 3 days, tell your doctor. Whatever the cause, cramps can be treated, so it’s important to get checked.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and menstrual cycles. Youâll get a pelvic exam, in which your doctor will use a tool called a speculum to see into your vagina and cervix. They may take a small sample of vaginal fluid for testing and use their fingers to check your uterus and ovaries for anything that doesnât feel normal.
If it turns out that your cramps arenât due to your period, you might need other tests to find the right treatment.
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.
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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.
Food Allergy Or Intolerance
Some people may be allergic to certain foods. These can irritate the stomach and may cause pain after eating.
An intolerance is a milder form of an allergy. Both allergies and intolerances can be caused by many different foods.
Common intolerances include gluten, wheat, and lactose.
People can keep a food diary if they think they might have an allergy.
A food diary is a written record of what they have consumed at each meal, including drinks and snacks. They should also include a note of when their stomach hurts.
Keeping a diary can help determine the foods causing an issue. People can then cut this food out of their diet.
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What Is Abdominal Pain Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
Most people experience abdominal discomfort or pain at some point in their lives. Abdominal pain is usually felt in the part of the trunk below the ribs, above the pelvis and the groin. It can range in intensity from a mild ache to severe, disabling pain.
While abdominal pain isnt normal, it isnt necessarily serious, and it often resolves itself.
How Do Doctors Find The Cause Of A Stomachache
To find the cause of a stomachache, doctors ask about:
- your symptoms
- illnesses you’ve had in the past
- health conditions that other family members have
Be honest with your doctor, even if a symptom seems embarrassing.
The doctor will do an exam and sometimes might order tests, such as an X-ray, ultrasound, or blood test. It all depends on what the doctor thinks is causing the problem.
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Home Remedies To Ease Mild Pain In Middle Of The Stomach
There are home remedies that you can try to help ease middle stomach pain. However, if you are in severe pain in the mid-abdominal area, it is best to see a doctor, as severe abdominal pain is a sign of a condition that needs medical attention as soon as possible.
For mild upper-middle abdominal pain and connecting areas, the following tips may be able to help you out.
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.
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What Is Lower Abdominal Pain
Pain in the lower abdomen is often related to the digestive tract, but can also be related to conditions of the body wall, skin, blood vessels, urinary tract, or reproductive organs. The area may be tender to the touch or the pain may be severe and the whole abdomen might be rigid.
Lower abdominal pain can be extremely uncomfortable and with that comes severe . Patients and parents become worried with the onset of lower abdominal pain.
Severe pain can be a symptom of inflammation, appendicitis, , or . Severe pain in women may result from twisting of an ovary , rupture of an ovarian , ectopic pregnancy, or pelvic inflammatory disease. Men may experience severe lower abdominal pain from or injury. Crampy pain may be due to gas, , inflammation or infection, or, in women, from menstrual cramps or endometriosis.
Severe pain that comes in waves may be caused by kidney stones. Trauma to the body wall, hernias, and shingles can also cause lower abdominal pain. A is a weakening of muscle or tissue that allows organs or other tissues to protrude through it. is a reactivation of the virus involving a painful, blistering that often forms a stripe across the affected area of skin.
Pain that is sudden in onset, severe, persistent, recurring, or worsening, or that is accompanied by other serious symptoms is often the most worrisome.
Organs On The Left Side Of The Abdomen
On the left side of your abdomen you can find some of the most important internal organs in your body:
Left lung The lower part of your left lung is located behind your heart and both of your lungs play a vital function in the respiratory system.
Spleen, pancreas, and part of the liver Although your liver is located under the right rib cage, part of it is located on the left side just under your heart. Below your heart under the left part of your rib cage are your liver, spleen, and pancreas. These organs, along with your liver, are an important part of your digestive system and help to break down food to extract nutrients and filter out waste products.
Left kidney Your left kidney is located towards your back and, just like the liver, helps to filter blood and keep you healthy.
Part of the stomach, intestines, and colon Part of your stomach, intestines, and colon are also located on the left side of your abdomen. The last part of your colon is located in the lower left side of the abdomen. If you have any digestive problems, the digestive-related pain might be felt on the left side.
Womens reproductive system Women also have part of their reproductive system on the left side of their body: part of the womb, left fallopian tube and the left ovary.
Organs on the Left Side of the Abdomen
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See Your Doctor As Soon As Possible If:
- your pain is no better after 2 hours of home care
- your abdomen is very painful
- your pain gets worse over time, or becomes sharper or stronger in one particular place
- your abdomen feels bloated or sticks out more than usual
- you cant stop vomiting
- you havent had a bowel motion or passed wind for 3 days
- youve lost your appetite
- there is blood in your vomit, urine or bowel motion, or vaginal bleeding that isnt a period.
You also need to see your doctor if you have other symptoms along with the pain such as fever or dizziness especially if those symptoms get worse over time or new symptoms develop.
Call Healthline if you are unsure what you should do.
Duration Of Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain can be brief or long-lasting, depending on its underlying cause. It can be ongoing or recurring, coming and going at what seem like random intervals or with certain activities or behaviors.
How long your abdominal pain lasts, or whether it comes and goes, doesnt necessarily correspond to how severe the underlying condition is.
How Is The Cause Of Abdominal Pain Diagnosed
Abdominal pain is one of the most common symptoms seen by GPs .
Information about your symptoms and the location of the abdominal pain can help a doctor diagnose the cause of your pain. They will want to know how long you have had the pain and may want to do a physical examination. If you are female, this may include a pelvic examination. If you are male, it may include checking your penis and scrotum.
They may suggest you have some blood tests or other diagnostic procedures done, especially if you have had the symptoms for some time.
Tests and procedures that may help in diagnosing the cause of abdominal pain include:
Other procedures that may be suggested, depending on your gender, include:
- pregnancy test and/or pelvic ultrasound
- ultrasound of the scrotum
Understanding The Upper Abdomen
Stomach pain is usually caused by gas, indigestion, and excessive stomach acid. Various home remedies can be applied to alleviate discomfort in this area.
On the other hand, this common discomfort can also be attributed to reasons not concerning the stomach. The upper stomach, or more accurately the upper abdomen, houses numerous organs that could easily be the real reason for stomach pain.
These organs include:
- Pancreas: Converts food into energy. Also helps regulate blood sugar and digestion.
- Gallbladder: Stores bile, a liquid enzyme that aids in digestion.
- Liver: Filters out blood before distributing it throughout the body.
- Adrenal gland: Produces cortisol and aldosterone, two of the bodys most important hormones
- Kidneys: Regulates fluids throughout the body and filters out toxins
- Spleen: Wards off infection and helps filter blood
These vital organs can be subjected to infections, inflammation, and other disorders that could result to pain. Understanding the different parts of the upper abdomen makes it easier to diagnose the real cause behind stomach pain.
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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.
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
- Blood in stool or vomit
- Constipation with vomiting
- 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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