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.
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
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
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Diagnosis Of Lower Abdominal Cramping
Sometimes the doctor can diagnose what causes cramping at lower abdomen from a patient’s medical history and physical examination. However, he may also need to do some laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis or to rule out other possible conditions. These diagnostic tests may include:
- Blood tests
- CT scan of the abdomen
- Magnetic resonance imaging
Common Causes Of Right
The common causes for pains on the right side of the abdominal area are gallstones and appendicitis. The pain associated with gallstones originates in the upper right of the abdomen area and can spread to the right shoulder blade.
The pain associated with appendicitis begins at the lower right side and is not constant. As the pain moves lower, it becomes constant and severe.
The symptoms of both conditions are:
- feeling sick
- shivers and sweats
If any of these symptoms and pains are experienced, medical attention at an emergency room in New Braunfels, Texas, should be sought immediately.
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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.
If you do struggle with acid reflux, it may be time to talk to a gastroenterologist. They can help you manage your symptoms through medications, lifestyle changes and diet.
When Is It An Emergency
If pain is severe or continuous, a person may require medical assistance. For example, a person with a kidney infection would require antibiotic medications to remedy their pain.
Surgery may be necessary for some people with severe abdominal pain. For example, appendicitis requires removing the appendix, known as an appendectomy, and kidney stones often require intravenous pain management while a stone passes, or surgery such as lithotripsy.
Some conditions that cause this pain, such as endometriosis and IBD, are chronic, and only the management of symptoms is possible.
Whatever the treatment, seeking care for persistent or severe pain in the lower-right abdomen can help an individual resume a good quality of life.
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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.
Constipation From Not Eating Enough Fiber
Constipation is defined as having stools which are large, hard, and difficult to pass. This leaves the person feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Many things can cause constipation, and a common one is lack of fiber in the diet.
To determine whether lack of fiber is causing the constipation, all other causes are first ruled out:
- Not drinking enough water, sometimes to the point of dehydration.
- Lack of exercise, which helps increase blood circulation and therefore motility of the bowel.
- A very low or no-fat diet.
- A need for probiotics, which replenish the “good” bacteria in the gut.
- Medications, or certain illnesses, which have a constipating effect.
- Constantly ignoring the feeling of needing to move the bowels, and delaying going to the toilet.
If fiber is needed, the best sources are fresh vegetables fresh or dried fruits and whole wheat and brown rice, because those include the fiber-rich bran. Over-the-counter fiber tablets can be tried, though laxatives should only be used if recommended by a medical provider.
Top Symptoms: constipation, constipation, pain in the lower left abdomen, pain when passing stools, feeling of needing to constantly pass stool
Symptoms that always occur with constipation from not eating enough fiber: constipation, constipation
Symptoms that never occur with constipation from not eating enough fiber: vomiting
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Taking Care Of Yourself At Home
Most abdominal pain goes away without special treatment. Be guided by your doctor, but there are some things you can do to help ease the pain, including:
- Place a hot water bottle or heated wheat bag on your abdomen.
- Soak in a warm bath. Take care not to scald yourself.
- Drink plenty of clear fluids such as water.
- Reduce your intake of coffee, tea and alcohol as these can make the pain worse.
- When you are allowed to eat again, start with clear liquids, then progress to bland foods such as crackers, rice, bananas or toast. Your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Try over-the-counter antacids, to help reduce some types of pain.
- Take mild painkillers such as paracetamol. Please check the packet for the right dose. Avoid aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs unless advised to take them by a doctor. These drugs can make some types of abdominal pain worse.
Sudden And Severe Lower Abdominal Pain
If you experience sudden, agonizing pain in your lower abdomen, you should contact a doctor immediately or go to the emergency room. It may get worse if you do not seek help quickly.
This sudden, severe pain may result from any of the following.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases , appendicitis can cause pain that begins near your belly button and moves gradually to the right side of your lower stomach.
The pain can come on suddenly. You may be more likely to notice this pain when you are moving around or breathing deeply, and it could wake you up. This type of pain can be severe, and it could get worse in just a few hours.
If you have appendicitis, this pain may be your only symptom. However, some people also report:
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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.
Normal Variation Of Constipation
Constipation means bowel movements which have become infrequent and/or hardened and difficult to pass.
There is wide variation in what is thought “normal” when it comes to frequency of bowel movements. Anywhere from three times a day to three times a week is considered normal.
As long as stools are easy to pass, laxatives should not be used in an effort to force the body to a more frequent schedule.
Constipation is usually caused by lack of fiber in the diet not drinking enough water insufficient exercise and often suppressing the urge to have a bowel movement.
A number of medications and remedies, especially narcotic pain relievers, can cause constipation.
Women are often affected, due to pregnancy and other hormonal changes. Young children who demand low-fiber or “junk food” diets are also susceptible.
Constipation is a condition, not a disease, and most of the time is easily corrected. If simple adjustments in diet, exercise, and bowel habits don’t help, a doctor can be consulted to rule out a more serious cause.
Top Symptoms: abdominal pain , nausea, stomach bloating, constipation, constipation
Symptoms that always occur with normal variation of constipation: constipation
Symptoms that never occur with normal variation of constipation: vomiting
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Abdominal Pain
While we dont usually feel the inner workings of our abdomen, pain can occur when there is a disruption of the normal functioning of an organ or area of tissue inside.
Abdominal pain can be caused by inflammation , organ distention or stretching , or loss of blood supply .
Some prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as dietary supplements, can cause stomach pain. Medications can do this by irritating the stomach, leading to nausea, pain, and diarrhea, or by slowing digestion, leading to constipation. Be sure to check the label of any drug you take to see if abdominal pain is listed as a possible side effect.
- Lead poisoning, often from eating paint chips
- Emotional upset
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.
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Lower Left Abdominal Pain
Pain in the lower left abdomen is commonly no cause for concern, but one shouldnt ignore it. Some signs of pain in the lower left abdomen maybe not be very strong and gentle, such as gas pain or constipation. It can also be more serious, as in the case of an infection, diverticulitis, endometriosis etc. To understand the cause of abdominal pain for better treatment, it is necessary to determine what kind of pain youre suffering.
Type of pains can help in determining the possible cause. Moderate pain can be from common causes like gas, constipation, menstruation pains etc. Similarly, severe pain can be from infections, kidney stones or any underlying diseases which needs urgent medical care.
In rare events, pain on the left side of the abdomen can also be a sign of a heart attack. Although, there are accompanied by other symptoms like chest pain that spreads to the stomach, nausea, tingling in the arms etc.
Stomach Pain In Children
Stomach pains are common in children. Causes include indigestion, stress, or more serious cases like appendicitis. Stomach pain of three hours or less is usually not severe. Call your healthcare provider immediately if a child has a fever of 100.4F or other symptoms such as diarrhea that could lead to dehydration.
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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.
Treating Lower Abdominal Pain In Women
The most common treatment for lower abdominal pain in women is a heating pad and mild pain medicationsâthis is for PMS or actual menstrual cramping. In cases where the pain is severe, a doctor might prescribe medications that will control hormones, reducing the possibility of inflammation and pain in subsequent months. When a woman experiences sharp pelvic cramps and pain, especially those that are felt on one side, it may be an ectopic pregnancy. This is urgent and requires emergency care. Pelvic inflammatory disease also calls for medical attention, as advanced cases of this condition usually mean surgery is needed.
It is not unusual for women to get cysts or fibroids. While the majority are harmless, others can cause a lot of discomfort and require surgical removal. Meanwhile, polycystic ovary syndrome is often treated with oral contraceptive pills to help regulate a womanâs cycle. However, surgery is still a treatment option.
In cases where a person is suffering from appendicitis, surgery may be required to remove the appendix. Thankfully, in the case of bladder infections, surgery is not the protocol. Antibiotics are the main treatment for UTIâs. Clearly, the treatment depends on the cause and it is dangerous to self-diagnose. Seeing a doctor will allow for proper investigation into what is causing the lower abdominal pain so that an appropriate treatment can be administered.
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Middle Of The Abdomen
The upper middle part of the abdomen contains the liver, the cardiac region of the stomach, part of the body of the stomach, the pyloric region of the stomach, and the pancreas.
The liver filters blood and creates bile, which is a substance that helps in the breakdown and absorption of fat in the foods you eat.
The cardiac region of the stomach is where food enters from the esophagus.
The pyloric region of the stomach is the last part of the stomach before food enters into the duodenum of the small intestine.
The pancreas is a large glandular organ that releases digestive enzymes and hormones.
The lower middle part of the abdomen contains the urinary bladder, rectum, and anus.
The urinary bladder is the organ that collects urine for excretion out of the body through the urethra.
The rectum goes into the anus, the final section of the large intestine that carries stool for excretion from the body.
Prevention Of Abdominal Pain
In many cases, abdominal pain can be prevented by adopting lifestyle and dietary choices that address the cause of your pain. Constipation, digestive upset, and even abdominal injury can often be prevented.
The following steps may help you prevent abdominal pain:
Drink plenty of water.
Develop regular bowel habits. Many people can train themselves to have regular bowel movements to help avoid constipation.
Follow a balanced, fiber-filled diet. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich foods, like whole grains, can help support healthy digestion and reduce constipation.
Eat regularly and slowly. Eating moderately-sized meals, instead of waiting until youre very hungry and stuffing yourself, can help avoid pain from overeating or eating on an empty stomach.
Exercise regularly. Getting enough physical activity can help prevent constipation and strengthen your abdominal muscles, which may help prevent straining.
Wear a seatbelt properly.
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