Signs And Symptoms That Warrant A Trip To Your Healthcare Provider Or The Er
Stomach pain can have many causes. Most of them aren’t serious, but some are, and you need to be able to recognize the warning signs.
If you rest, avoid certain foods, take medication, or use a heating pad, you may get relief from some kinds of pain. For others, you may need urgent medical care.
This article offers some at-home remedies, but also presents symptoms that mean you should contact your healthcare provider. It also explains why some symptoms point to a true emergency.
Verywell / JR Bee
Change In Bowel Movement Frequency
There is no magic number of bowel movements we should all be having each day. Some people go three-to-four times a day, and that is normal for them. Others only move their bowels once a day and that is their normal. However, if you or a loved one experiences a significant change in bowel movement frequency, whether more or less often, its important to discuss this change with your healthcare provider.
What Other Symptoms Relate To Abdominal Pain
Pain in the abdomen may be experienced as aching, stabbing, burning, twisting, cramping, dull, or a gnawing pain.
The pain may also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as a feeling of discomfort in the abdomen, bloating, constipation, wind , belching , fever, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, fever, dehydration or loss of appetite
Describing the pattern and location of your symptoms to a doctor may help them in identifying the cause of your abdominal pain. These causes include:
- Peptic ulcer The pain is often felt in the upper abdomen, as a knife-like pain which goes through to the back.
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease The pain usually causes a central burning pain that develops just under the breastbone, and may rise upwards. It may be accompanied by belching.
- Appendicitis The pain usually starts near the navel before moving down to the lower right abdomen when it becomes more constant.
- Gallstones or gallbladder irritation The pain is felt in the upper right abdomen, back or right shoulder.
- Lower abdominal pain: Also referred to as lower stomach pain, it is probably coming from your bowel.
- Period pain This is usually a dull, cramping pain, felt low down, which may radiate through to the back.
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Symptoms Of Stomach Ulcers
Although the most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is a burning or gnawing pain in the centre of the abdomen . Not all stomach ulcers are painful.
Some people experience:
Speak to your GP immediately if:
- your symptoms persist
- youre vomiting blood the blood can appear bright red or have a dark brown, grainy appearance like coffee grounds
- youre passing dark, sticky, tar-like stools
- you feel a sudden, sharp pain in your tummy that gets steadily worse
These could be a sign of a serious complication.
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.
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Should You Take Medication
There are several over-the-counter diarrhea treatments available, but they are not always recommended.
Keep in mind that these medications should not be given to children without their pediatricians OK.
How Can I Feel Better
Your rectal area may become sore because of all the bowel movements that diarrhea brings. You may have itching, burning, or pain when you go to the bathroom.
For relief, take a warm bath or sitz bath. Afterward, pat the area dry with a clean, soft towel. You may also try using a hemorrhoid cream or petroleum jelly on the affected area. If this continues for several days, you should contact your doctor.
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In General What Conditions Do Gastroenterologists Treat
Gastroenterologists can evaluate for and treat a wide variety of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease , gastroesophageal reflux disease , celiac disease, peptic ulcer disease, obesity and more. GI doctors also routinely perform screenings for colon cancer.
My area of specialty is in prevention and early detection of cancers such as colorectal, gastric and pancreatic cancer. I enjoy helping patients, especially those with a family history, understand their risk for cancer while offering genetic testing, screening and more.
Overall, its important for patients to openly discuss stress and GI symptoms with their doctors. Primary care doctors can help manage stress and treat symptoms, but in some cases it may be necessary to see a gastroenterologist to evaluate for other conditions.
Fecal Impaction And Constipation
It may surprise you to know that constipation can also cause symptoms of diarrhea. How is it possible to have impacted hard stool as well as watery diarrhea?
Doctors from the National Health Service explain that what looks like diarrhea is actually anal leakage. Fecal impaction can make it almost impossible to having a bowel movement. However, watery stool can leak around the hard stool and look as if you have constipation and diarrhea at the same time.26
Please read my article on the best way to treat anal leakage naturally and avoid embarrassment.
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Chronic Or Prolonged Constipation
Almost everyone experiences occasional bouts of constipation, and studies show that it’s especially prevalent among older adults. Constipation is typically defined as three or fewer bowel movements per week. It may not seem like a big deal, but if your constipation isn’t treated, over time the stools in your colon can become so large and solid that your body can’t remove them and that can be painful or even deadly, Anthony warns. If it goes longer than seven days, I want to see you, he says. Constipation can be caused by a wide variety of issues, including certain medicines, a diet low in fiber, and medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid issues, diabetes or, in rare cases, colorectal cancer.
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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Belly Pain In The Lower Left Side That’s Worse When You Move
Abdominal pain in the left lower area of the abdomen may signify diverticulitis, small pockets in the colon that can become obstructed and tear. Traditional treatment includes antibiotics and stool softeners to reduce the risk of abscess formation. Physicians say according to recent research, antibiotics may no longer be needed in this scenario, and they recommend acetaminophen instead.
What To Do For Diarrhea After Eating
Here are some things to keep in mind if you have diarrhea after you eat. These tips can help ease the symptom or even prevent it from happening.
- Tell your provider: Let your provider know about your symptoms, especially if they are not getting better. They can help figure out the cause and get you the right treatment.
- Stay hydrated: Your body wont absorb fluids and minerals when you have diarrhea because of how quickly stool is passing through your system. Make sure to drink extra water, clear fruit juice, or broth to replace the lost fluids.
- Choose foods wisely: Stick to small meals of easily digested foods while you have symptoms. Avoid foods that can worsen diarrhea, like dairy products, fatty foods, and foods that give you gas.
- Use relaxation exercises to calm your body. Theres a close connection between your brain and your gut, so stress can be a trigger for diarrhea. Deep-breathing exercises and the strategic tensing and relaxing of muscles throughout the body can be effective in calming your body. They may also help slow the emptying of your bowels.
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.
When To Visit The Doctor
Severe cases of burning diarrhea can often make you feel incapacitated and unable to perform simple tasks. However, most cases tend to resolve on their own within a day or two. However, if you are experiencing burning diarrhea symptoms for a much longer period of time, it could be a sign of a more serious health condition. If you have any of the following signs and symptoms of burning diarrhea, it may be a good idea to seek medical attention.
- Signs of severe dehydration, including extreme thirst, exhaustion, light-headedness, and dark-colored urine
- Significant weight loss and lack of appetite
- Diarrhea caused by an antibiotic or new medication
- Diarrhea that smells unusual
- Fever, chills, or night sweats
- Skin rash
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When To Seek Immediate Medical Help
Severe abdominal pain is a greater cause for concern. If it starts suddenly and unexpectedly, and persists, it should be regarded as a medical emergency, especially if the pain is concentrated in a particular area.
or go to your nearest hospital emergency department if this is the case.
If you feel pain in the area around your ribs, see the section on chest pain.
What Are Other Symptoms Of Covid
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
However, COVID-19 can also cause unusual symptoms, and manifestation of the disease varies from person to person:
- Loss of taste and/or smell: One potential early symptom of COVID-19 is new loss of smell or taste without nasal congestion. According to studies, this symptom typically resolves within 30 days. Moderate to severe changes in taste and smell can last for 60 days or longer in some people.
- Change in skin appearance: Flat, red rashes with small bumps or discolored regions on the fingers and toes are the most prevalent skin changes linked to mild to severe COVID-19. Children and young people seem to be more susceptible to COVID toes. Swelling, discoloration, blisters, itching, and discomfort are possible side effects. This symptom can linger anywhere from 10-14 days to several months.
- Confusion: In older people, delirium or brain fog may be the primary or only sign of COVID-19. This COVID-19 symptom has been linked to a high probability of serious complications including death.
- Eye problems: COVID-19 can cause conjunctivitis , as well as light sensitivity, itchiness, and irritation.
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What Can I Do At Home To Feel Better
Get plenty of rest and keep drinking lots of liquids until your symptoms pass. Drinks that have both sugar and salt help your intestine absorb fluids better and replace the lost electrolytes. Nibbling salty crackers along with ginger ale or a similar sweet drink could also help. Avoid dairy products like cows milk for one or two days milk can make diarrhea worse due to temporary lactose intolerance that often come with gastroenteritis.
To control severe diarrhea, your healthcare provider may recommend an over-the-counter medication such bismuth subsalicylate . You shouldnt use these medicines if you have a high fever or bloody diarrhea, which can be signs of deeper infection from bacteria or a parasite. Antidiarrheal medications arent safe for children to use. Instead, see your healthcare provider for treatment.
Nearly everyone gets a bout of stomach flu at some point. Its not pleasant, but it usually passes in less than a week. Give yourself time to rest and recover before you go back to your daily activities. Fortunately you can take steps to avoid the likelihood of passing it on to others or picking it up again in the future.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/26/2020.
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.
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When To Take Stomach Pain And Other Gi Issues Seriously
Everyone experiences stomach pain or other gastrointestinal issues from time-to-time. Many times, these can be minor issues that resolve themselves over time. However, if you or a loved one are experiencing troubling gut pain for more than a few days, it might be time for you to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider or a gastroenterologist. Common GI issues include food poisoning, a stomach virus, irritable bowel syndrome , celiac disease, or any number of other conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease , such as Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis.
The information below will help you understand your symptoms and provide tools for you to find a physician and share your GI symptoms with them. Below are descriptions for the most frequently experienced symptoms of IBD.
Should I See A Doctor If I Get Stomach Pains When I Am Stressed
You should be seeing your primary care physician at least once a year, and you should tell them if you often have stomach pain or GI discomfort.
If your primary care physician identifies symptoms of a chronic GI condition or other warning signs, they may refer you to a gastroenterologist like myself. A gastroenterologist can help determine if your stomach pain or GI symptoms are related to stress, or due to another condition that requires different treatment.
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Upper Abdominal Pain Between The Ribcage
If you develop an aching or stabbing pain or pressure in the upper abdominal area just under the ribs, this may indicate a heart-related problem. Physicians say this pain is often accompanied by shortness of breath and is concerning if the pain persists. People often assume this type of pain is indigestion, and while that may be the case, anyone with risk factors such as diabetes or hypertension should see a doctor as soon as possible.