Figuring Out The Cause
When youre suffering from stomach pain, diarrhea, or both, one of the most important things is to try to determine the root cause. Quite often, this type of abdominal pain is due to stomach flu or another virus, spoiled food, or food that one has developed a sensitivity to. Unless diarrhea and pain are accompanied by other severe symptoms, such as a high fever, the best course of action is to wait it out.
If you feel that it is a reaction to food, most times symptoms will subside in a day or two. However, there are some instances of food poisoning that definitely warrant a doctor visit but again, you will see other severe symptoms along with general GI upset.
If you think you may be having a reaction to food, such as those with celiac disease who have a sensitivity to gluten, its worthwhile to try an elimination diet to confine the source of the upset. It is possible to suddenly develop a food sensitivity later in life its also estimated that up to 20 percent of Americans have food sensitivity. Please note that celiac is a serious condition and ongoing exposure to gluten can cause increasing damage. Celiac should not be self-diagnosed.
Causes Of Abdominal Pain In Adults
There are many reasons why you may have pain in your abdomen. People often worry about appendicitis, gallstones, ulcers, infections and pregnancy problems. Doctors also worry about these, as well as many other conditions. Abdominal pain may not come from the abdomen. Some surprising causes include heart attacks and pneumonias, conditions in the pelvis or groin, some skin rashes like shingles, and problems with stomach muscles like a strain. The pain may occur along with problems in passing urine or with bowel motions, or period problems.With so many organs and structures in the abdomen, it can be hard for a doctor to be absolutely sure about the cause of your problem. The doctor will ask you several questions and then examine you carefully. The doctor may perform no further tests. The cause of your pain may be quite clearly not serious. Another scenario may be that the doctor is unable to find a cause, but the pain gets better within hours or days. All the doctor can do is to be sure that the pain does not require surgery or admission to hospital.
Diagnosing Cramps With No Period
Always call a doctor if you have cramps that wonât go away, whether or not you have your period.
Your doctor will want to know if your pain is sudden or ongoing. The more details you can give, the faster they may be able to diagnose and treat you. Youâll be asked questions about your symptoms and your periods.
Your doctor may do tests or procedures to learn the cause of your cramps. If your doctor suspects it is related to your uterus, or ovaries, common tests are:
Laparoscopy, a type of exploratory surgery to look at the structures inside your pelvic area, including your uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
Your doctor may refer you to someone who specialize in stomach or intestinal disorders or a urologist if they suspect that cramps are caused by any of those areas .
Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Pelvic Pain.”
Glencoe Regional Health Services: “Possible causes of ovarian pain.”
St. Luke’s Health System: “Ruptured Ovarian Cyst.”
Kruszka, P.S. American Family Physician, July 15, 2010.
KidsHealth: “Pregnancy Calendar: Week 4.”
KidsHealth: “Pregnancy Calendar: Week 5.”
WomensHealth.gov: “Irritable Bowel Syndrome Fact Sheet.”
Center for Young Women’s Health: “Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.”
Christiana Care Health System: “Pelvic-Floor Muscle Dysfunction.”
UpToDate: âPatient information: Chronic pelvic pain in women .
UpToDate: Patient information: Irritable bowel syndrome .â
American Cancer Society: âWhat Is Ovarian Cancer?â
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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.
An Inflammatory Bowel Disease
What it is: You get long-term swelling and irritation in different parts of your digestive tract. It happens when something goes haywire in your immune system. It isnât the same as irritable bowel syndrome . Crohn’s can affect any part of your digestive tract . Ulcerative colitis involves only the large intestine .
What the cramps feel like: It depends on the type of IBD you have. With Crohn’s, youâll feel cramps and pain in the right lower or middle parts of your belly. They can be mild to severe. If you have ulcerative colitis, the cramps will be on the lower left side of your stomach.
Other symptoms: Which ones you have depend on the specific type of IBD. They include:
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Diagnosing Abdominal Pain And Diarrhea
To determine the cause of abdominal pain and diarrhea, your doctor will first perform a physical exam. Theyll also ask some questions about your health history and lifestyle. Traveling to certain countries may increase your risks of digestive disease. Be sure to mention any recent trips overseas. The doctor will also ask questions about any recent changes in your diet.
Your doctor may perform a stool culture, in which theyll send a sample of your feces to a lab to check for bacteria, viruses, and parasites. If this comes up negative, they may run a more complete analysis of your feces to look for possible digestive disorders.
Other common diagnostic tests include:
Endoscopy: In an endoscopy, a doctor sends a camera down your throat and into your stomach to check for problems, such as ulcers and signs of celiac disease.
Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy involves sending a camera into the rectum and intestines to check for signs of damage and signs of disease, such as ulcers and polyps.
Lower GI tract radiography: In a lower GI tract radiography, a technician will perform a real-time X-ray of the abdomen. This occurs after your doctor injects a barium-based contrast material into the rectum to check for intestinal obstructions and other conditions.
Medical treatments can help address the underlying condition causing your abdominal pain and diarrhea. If your symptoms are caused by stress or need to be managed, home remedies can help.
Noisy Abdomen / Rumbling
A noisy gut does not always mean youre hungry. There may be other reasons why your stomach is churning and gurgling. The digestive system causes belly noises, known as borborygmi when fluids or air moves around your small and large intestines.
Borborygmi Definition: The term for the gurgling or rumbling noises made by the movement of gas and fluids in the intestines. During the process called peristalsis, the small intestine and stomach muscles contract and move contents forward in your gastrointestinal tract. These gas noises in stomach can occur both when the stomach is empty and when its full.
Peristalsis Definition: A series of wave-like contraction and relaxation of stomach muscles. Two hours after the stomach contents are emptied, the brain signals the digestive muscles to begin peristalsis again. The belly noises and contractions of an empty stomach can make you hungry. A noisy gut may be louder in this case because the intestines and stomach are empty the stomach noises and pain are not muffled. Take note that you may swallow a lot of air because of eating too fast or talking while eating. This can lead you to have louder stomach rumbles after eating.
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When Stomach Pain Is And Is Not An Emergency
Stomach pain can have a variety of causes, some of which you can address by resting, avoiding heavy and spicy foods, taking medication, or using a heating pad. Others, however, may require urgent medical care.
While it can be hard to determine this on your own, at least with total certainty, there are some guidelines you can use to figure out if you should head to the ER, your doctor’s office, or try some at-home solutions. Regardless of how your case matches up if you feel severe, out-of-the-norm pain that you think needs immediate attention, seek it.
Can Stomachaches Be Prevented
Not all belly pain can be prevented. But to help avoid common types of stomachaches:
- Wash your hands before eating or preparing food, and after using the bathroom.
- Don’t overeat, and try not to eat right before going to sleep.
- Drink plenty of water and eat fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to keep food moving through your digestive system.
- Avoid foods that have passed their expiration date or or weren’t stored properly.
- If you have a food allergy or intolerance, avoid eating foods that make you sick. If you have a food allergy, always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors, and know when you should use them.
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The Pain Came On Pretty Quickly And Youre Vomiting
This could also be a sign of foodborne illness like salmonella, shigella, campylobacter, or E.coli. Its really no surprise that if you eat something off, your body might pull an Exorcist in response.
But these symptoms can also happen due to acute gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, Priyam V. Tripathi, M.D., M.P.H., a gastroenterologist at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, tells SELF. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the intestines that can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or parasite, the U.S. National Library of Medicine says, noting that the viral form of gastroenteritis is the second most common illness in the United States. While it can be hard to tell the difference between food poisoning and the stomach flu , one key differentiator is that gastroenteritis usually doesnt cause bloody diarrhea, while food poisoning often does, as SELF previously explained.
The good news is that gastroenteritis usually goes away on its own, Dr. Tripathi says. But, she adds, if youre struggling to keep fluids down , its definitely time to see a doctor.
Why Does Your Stomach Hurt
Stomach cramps can range from mild achiness to severe, stabbing pain.
Common causes of stomach cramps include eating foods that can irritate your stomach, constipation, food poisoning, or a stomach infection. People who have anxiety may also develop stomach cramps.
Pregnant people may experience stomach cramps as the fetus grows. Menstrual cramps are also very common, though they actually take place in the uterus.
Sometimes stomach cramps are constant. In this case, a chronic digestive illness, such as irritable bowel disease, may be the cause.
Most stomach cramps go away on their own within a few hours or a couple of days. Changing what you eat and taking over-the-counter medication can help with symptoms while you recover.
Some stomach cramps may require medical attention. You should be concerned about stomach cramps if they last for a week or longer or are so severe that you cant function, or you also have symptoms like fever or blood in your vomit or stool.
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What Do Upper And Lower Abdominal Pain Signify
If the pain is coming from higher up in your stomach, it could be caused by acid reflux or an ulcer. You might also have heartburn and belching and the pain may either be made worse or relieved by food.
If you feel pain right across your stomach area or low down, its probably coming from your bowel. You may also have bloating and wind. If your stomach cramps have started recently and you also have diarrhoea, the cause is probably gastroenteritis. If you are very ill for example, with chills or a fever you may have a more serious condition, such as food poisoning.
How To Treat This
Treatment depends entirely on the cause. For example, acid reflux may be eased with an over-the-counter antacid, and gas pains may clear up after the gas passes.
For other conditions, however, treatment from a doctor may be necessary. In addition to needing a definitive diagnosis, your doctor will need to determine a treatment that is most likely to ease your symptoms. Most common causes of unexplained stomach pain will require treatment from a doctor.
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Treatment For Abdominal Pain In Adults
Your treatment depends on what is causing your pain, but may include:
- Pain relief your pain may not go away fully with painkillers, but it should ease.
- Fluids you may have fluids given into a vein to correct fluid loss and rest your bowel.
- Medicines for example, you may be given something to stop you vomiting.
- Fasting your doctor may ask you not to eat or drink anything until the cause of your pain is known.
Pain After A Recent Surgical Procedure
If you’ve had a recent procedure done on your abdomen, it’s quite possible that you can have pain around the belly button as a result of the trauma your body experienced during the procedure. Many time, the pain will heal by itself, but if it becomes severe or gets worse when you press on it, or if you have a fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, then you should consult your doctor.
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When To Go To The Doctor
Pain in the body means that something is wrong. If you experience pain after eating only every once in a while and it is not debilitating, you may want to mention it to your doctor the next time that you see them.
But if you are experiencing pain after eating on a fairly frequent basis, it is essential that you make an appointment right away with your doctor to ensure that you get an accurate diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan.
If the pain is severe, debilitating, and accompanied by jaundice, fever, rapid heart rate, chills, or severe vomiting, you should seek emergency care.
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.
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Pain Accompanied By Feeling Sick
“Feeling sick with stomach pain can be an indication of a tummy bug or food poisoning ,” Dr Jarvis said.
She also said that it could be:
- gall bladder problems
- irritable bowel
Again, appendicitis can also make you feel pretty sick so if you feel unwell and you’re suffering from sharp pains, definitely get it checked out ASAP.
Right Or Left Lower Abdominal Pain In Women
Sudden onset of right lower abdominal pain or left lower abdominal pain can indicate a ruptured ovarian cyst in a woman who is mid-cycle. This kind of pain could also be a sign of ovarian torsion, which is the rotation of the ovary and part of the fallopian tube, or possibly a twisting of the ovary due to compromised blood supply. Seek treatment immediately at the nearest emergency department. Surgery to remove the ovary may be required.
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Why Do I Have Stomach Pain And Diarrhea
Abdominal pain and diarrhea can be all-too familiar, and nearly everybody will suffer from this combination at some point during their lifetime. But how do I know if my stomach pain is serious?
Having diarrhea with stomach pain is a common symptom of stomach flu. The good news is, the discomfort and pain usually disappear within a few days. However, there are other reasons you may have stomach cramps or diarrhea, and its important to know when to see a doctor and when to ride the symptoms out.
Read on to learn about the different possible causes of stomach pain and diarrhea, how to prevent some instances of it, and when to give your physician a call.
When To Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Get medical help immediately if:
- You have abdominal pain that is very sharp, severe, and sudden.
- You also have pain in the chest, neck, or shoulder.
- Youre vomiting blood, have bloody diarrhea, or have black, tarry stools
- You have a high fever.
- Youre having difficulty breathing.
- You develop consistent nausea and/or vomiting.
- Your abdomen is stiff, hard, and tender to the touch.
- You cant move your bowels, especially if youre also vomiting
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When Should I See My Doctor
Sometimes, abdominal pain can signal something serious. You should see your doctor immediately or go to your nearest hospital emergency department if you:
- have pain that is severe and is getting worse
- have pain that spreads to your chest, neck or shoulders
- have pain that lasts for several hours or longer
- have pain and vaginal bleeding and you are pregnant
- have pain in the scrotum
- have pain and vomiting or shortness of breath
- have pain and vomiting blood
- have blood in bowel motions or urine
- cant pee , do a poo or fart
- are experiencing vomiting that wont go away
If you have a sudden, severe, debilitating pain in your abdomen, go to your nearest hospital emergency department or call triple zero immediately and ask for an ambulance. It may be a sign of a serious illness that requires urgent treatment.