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.
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.
What Causes Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain can be caused by many conditions. However, the main causes are infection, abnormal growths, inflammation, obstruction , and intestinal disorders.
Infections in the throat, intestines, and blood can cause bacteria to enter your digestive tract, resulting in abdominal pain. These infections may also cause changes in digestion, such as diarrhea or constipation.
Cramps associated with menstruation are also a potential source of lower abdominal pain, but these are more commonly known to cause pelvic pain.
Other common causes of abdominal pain include:
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If You Have Chronic Or Frequent Stomach Pain
Chronic indigestion, constipation or gas — that happens on a regular, ongoing basis — can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying condition. A few of the most common digestive conditions are listed below — but remember that only a health care professional can diagnose you, so make sure to consult with your provider if you’re concerned.
What Are The Most Common Causes Of A Constant Upset Stomach
A constant upset stomach can be caused by a number of different factors,, including stress and an unhealthy lifestyle. When a constant upset stomach is accompanied by bloating or severe pain, it is necessary to visit with a medical doctor. Identifying the cause of regular stomach pain can be achieved by eliminating various possibilities.
Diet can cause a person to suffer from a constant upset stomach. A diet that is high in fat or sugar may lead to stomach upset. Likewise, eating meals too quickly can cause an excessive amount of gas and bloating. Alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine may also lead to digestive problems. In addition to food consumption, abdominal pain may be caused by a high level of stress or certain medications that irritate the stomach lining.
Occasionally, a constant upset stomach is a sign of a serious medical condition. Some medical conditions associated with severe stomach pain include peptic ulcers and cardiac ischemia. If stomach upset persists for more than one week, regardless of altering one’s diet or taking over-the-counter medication, it is best to speak with a medical doctor concerning this condition.
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Reasons You Wake Up With Stomach Pain Every Morning
Almost everyone has experienced an upset stomach once in a blue moon, either as a result of indigestion, illness, or just something youve consumed the night before that cause it. A night of heavy drinking can cause your stomach to ache the morning after. However, having stomach pain every morning regularly may be an indication of an underlying condition.
We at Mayor Boss did some research and figured out why some people always wake up with a stomach ache every morning. And on that note, lets dive in.
When To Make An Appointment To See Your Doctor
Schedule an appointment to see your doctor if:
- Your stomach pain doesnt go away within a couple of days.
- The pain comes back after going away.
- Symptoms like diarrhea dont go away within a couple of days.
- Youre urinating more or less often, and/or its painful.
- You have unintended weight loss.
Know your body, Dr. Kingsley says. If you start having pain that you have not had before and does not go away, you should contact your doctor to be evaluated further.
Bottom line: Trust your gut! Contact your doctor if youre concerned about lingering or unusual stomach pain.
National Health Service, Stomach Ache
National Health Service Inform, Stomach Ache and Abdominal Pain
U.S. National Library of Medicine, Abdominal Pain
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Why Does My Stomach Hurt
Tummy troubles are a common cause for a visit to the doctors office. Whenpatients complain of stomach pain, they are sometimes describing painthat is throughout the abdomen area and may not actually be directlyrelated to the organ known as the stomach.
Doctors first try to determine if a patients abdominal pain is caused by astructural or functional problem.
Sometimes the digestive tract does not function properly due to anabnormality with the structure of an organ. Medical imaging will show thatthe organ does not look normal and is not working properly.
Functional problems, also called motility disorders, are conditions thatresult from poor nerve and muscle function in the digestive tract. Organsthat are part of the gastrointestinal tract will usually look normal onmedical images, such asCT scansorMRI scans, but the organs do not work like they should.
The gastrointestinal system has its own nervous system to control themuscle contractions that digest the food you eat, saysDr. Linda Lee. Functional disorders can be difficult to diagnose, because we cannoteasily see problems with the nerves or muscles in the gastrointestinaltract.
Some of the conditions that could cause abdominal pain are:
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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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.
Gastroenteritis And Infectious Colitis
These are the terms for inflammation in the lining of the intestines and colon, respectively. Symptoms will vary based on the location and cause. In both cases, the underlying cause could be due to a condition such as Crohns disease or even something more benign such as a lack of blood flow to the abdominal area, says Dr. Dann. Patients with infectious colitis generally have diarrhea associated abdominal pain, which may be severe.
How to treat it: Depending on the severity of symptoms, antibiotics may be needed.
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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.
A Bladder Or Kidney Infection
Bladder infections can definitely cause abdominal pain, as well as painful and urgent urination, and/or blood in the urine. If its a kidney infection youre dealing with, you may also have a fever, chills, thigh pain, and joint tenderness.
How to treat it: Most cases can be treated with a course of oral antibiotics, though severe cases may require hospitalization and IV antibiotics. In rare cases, surgery may be required, says Dr. Dann.
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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.
My Stomach Has Been Hurting For 3 Days
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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.
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
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Diagnosis Of Stomach Pain After Meals
Your doctor will ask you a number of questions about your diet, lifestyle, and medical history. All of these can significantly affect the digestive system.
Doctors can use computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans to diagnose gastrointestinal pain, but it is not always easy to generate accurate images of the digestive system using these methods.
Sudden Stomach Cramps With Diarrhoea
If your stomach cramps have started recently and you also have diarrhoea, the cause may be a tummy bug . This means you have a viral or bacterial infection of the stomach and bowel. It should get better without treatment after a few days.
Gastroenteritis may be caused by:
- coming into close contact with someone who’s infected
- eating contaminated food
If you have repeated bouts of stomach cramps and diarrhoea, you may have a long-term condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome .
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Severe Stomach Pain After Eating A Fatty Meal
If you find yourself doubled over after eating a high-fat meal, you may be experiencing a gallbladder attack. “Women are especially prone to gallbladder disease,” says Hardeep Singh, MD, gastroenterologist from St. Joseph Hospital, Orange, CA. “Overweight women in their 40s are at highest risk.” The pain becomes worse after eating, lasts 30 to 60 minutes, and may come and go, becoming more constant and severe over time, says Singh.
When To Call The Doctor About Abdominal Pain
If your abdominal pain is serious, doesn’t go away, or keeps coming back, talk to your doctor. Call 911 right away if your belly hurts because you had a recent injury there or if you have any chest pain.
You should also contact your doctor as soon as you can if you have symptoms along with the pain, such as:
- Can’t keep food down for more than 2 days
- Signs you’re getting dehydrated, including not urinating frequently, dark-colored urine, and being very thirsty
- Can’t have a bowel movement, especially if you’re also vomiting
- Pain when you pee, or you need to urinate often
Also call your doctor if:
- Your belly is tender to the touch
- Pain lasts more than a few hours
You may have other symptoms that could be a sign of a problem inside your body that needs treatment as soon as possible. Get medical care right away if you have abdominal pain and you also:
- Have unexplained weight loss
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What Is Stomach Pain
The stomach is the organ responsible for most of your foods digestion. Breaking down food swallowed through your esophagus and sending the resulting mixture onto the small intestine is the stomachs primary function.
Most everyone has had a stomach ache after eating at some time or another. The causes are usually quite benign, ranging from overindulging to simply eating something that didnt agree with you. However, frequent stomach pain after eating is a sign of a deeper problem and shouldnt be ignored.
Stomach aches and pains can happen at almost any point during this process. While some of this is usually normal, see a doctor right away if youre experiencing:
- Unintentional weight loss
Could This Be Bowel / Stomach Cancer
In about December my stomach started playing up, i had one day of diarrhoea that did go quickly. Anyways since then all day every day my stomach has been making loud and i mean loud gurgling / rumbling noises. Everyone around me can hear them and its worse after i have eaten but they are there all the time.
Before Christmas i did go and see a GP she was very dismissive and although she did a physical check of my stomach bascially sent me on my way and made me feel like i had waisted her time.
So on to today..the noises are still there louder than ever and show no sign of going away. I am going to make an appointment with my GP but waiting times are about a week, I am 41 year old male by the way.
Could this be a sign i have bowel / Stomach Cancer? Dr google is freaking me out and i am conviced i now have that.
Thanks for any input
Hello Chris and welcome to Cancer Chat!
Im sorry you are feeling poorly and dismissed by the GP you saw before Christmas. Have you managed to book an appointment with your GP after that?
Looking up things on Dr Google is something we all do from time to time, but at least in my experience the more we do the more we worry so try to refrain from doing so if you can.
As for the question you ask, if you feel like speaking to someone on the phone you can give our cancer nurses a call, they are available Monday – Friday between 9a.m – 5p.m on 0808 800 4040, this phone number is free of charge from a UK landline.
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