Conditions That Cause Severe Abdominal Pain
Appendicitis: This illness happens when the appendix, which is part of the large intestine, becomes infected and inflamed. If the appendix ruptures, it can become life-threatening. Surgery to remove the appendix, called an appendectomy, is the usual treatment.
Stomach ulcers: Crater-like sores in the lining of the stomach and small intestine. They can bleed or burst and be life-threatening if not treated. Medication to reduce your stomach acid can help treat them.
Gallstones: Hard stones, made up of cholesterol and other materials, can form in the gallbladder, which is just below the liver. They can cause inflammation of the gallbladder, which can lead to inflammation known as acute cholecystitis. Treatment for these problems includes removal of the gallbladder.
Kidney stones: Crystals of varying sizes that form in your urine can build up in your kidneys and cause severe pain. You can pass some on your own through urination, or doctors may remove them surgically.
Inflammatory bowel disease : A chronic inflammation in the digestive tract that can cause severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and rectal bleeding. Examples of IBD include Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis.
Pancreatitis: The pancreas produces insulin and glucagon the two hormones that manage how your body processes sugar and aids in digestion. Inflammation of the pancreas is called pancreatitis, which can affect its performance and cause severe stomach pain.
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
Causes Of Recurrent Stomach Pains
- Stress or Worries. The most common cause of frequent stomach pains is stress. Over 10% of children have a “worried stomach.” These children tend to be sensitive and too serious. They often are model children. This can make them more at risk to the normal stresses of life. Examples of these events are changing schools, moving or family fights. The pain is in the pit of the stomach or near the belly button. The pain is real.
- Abdominal Migraine. Attacks of stomach pain and vomiting with sudden onset and offset. Often occur in children who later develop migraine headaches. Strongly genetic.
- Functional Abdominal Pains. Functional means the stomach pains are due to a sensitive GI tract. The GI tract is free of any disease.
- School Avoidance. Stomach pains that mainly occur in the morning on school days. They keep the child from going to school.
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What Is Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain is discomfort or other uncomfortable sensations that you feel in your belly area. Just about everybody at one time or another will get a bellyache.
Most causes of abdominal pain aren’t reasons to worry, and your doctor can easily diagnose and treat the problem. Sometimes, though, it can be a sign of a serious illness that needs medical attention.
If Your Stomach Hurts Suddenly
Acute stomach pain comes on quickly and lasts for a limited amount of time, typically a few hours to a few days. It’s usually caused by external factors, like a particular food or contaminant that didn’t agree with your stomach. Even people with completely healthy digestive tracts will experience occasional stomach pain.
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Abdominal Pain Treatment And Home Remedies
The treatment for abdominal pain depends on its cause, and may include:
- Medications to lower inflammation, prevent acid reflux, or treat ulcers or infection
- Surgery to treat a problem with an organ
Over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen can irritate your stomach and worsen your pain. Donât take them unless a doctor has diagnosed the cause of your belly pain and recommends their use.
Some diet and lifestyle changes may help belly pain caused by gas and indigestion. Here are some things you can try:
- Eat smaller portions at more frequent meals
- Eat slowly
Why Does My Stomach Hurt
There are numerous reasons for abdominal pain. It may be related to digestion, injury, infection or disease. It may come from an organ inside, or from the muscles or skin in your abdominal wall. Or it may have spread from somewhere else nearby.
Your healthcare provider will ask you detailed questions about your pain to determine the cause. How bad it feels doesnt necessarily indicate how serious it is. Some common, transient conditions can be intense, and some life-threatening conditions may feel mild.
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Stomach Or Peptic Ulcers
Ulcers or wounds that will not heal tend to cause severe and persistent abdominal pain. It can also lead to bloating, indigestion, and weight loss.
The most common causes of stomach and peptic ulcers are the bacteria H. pylori and the overuse or continued use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications .
If you would like to know more about stomach ulcers, click here.
Stomach And Duodenal Ulcers
The pain from an ulcer may come and go. The pain is in the top part of your gut but may also feel like it goes through into your back. The pain often comes at night and wakes you up. Food may make it better in some types of ulcer, or may make it worse. See the separate leaflets called Stomach Ulcer and Duodenal Ulcer for more details.
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How To Treat Minor Stomach Pain At Home
Treatment depends on the underlying problem, of course, explains Dr. Greenwald. But your run-of-the-mill antacids and diet modifications are standard go-tos for relief, he says. Hydration, even frequent sips of fluids, is also crucial amid diarrhea, adds Dr. Mahidhara, and anti-inflammatory medications and a heating pad should help soothe abdominal cramps. Just be careful with medications, she advises, because they may help or worsen a situation depending on the cause.
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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What The Doctor Does
Doctors first ask questions about the persons symptoms and medical history. Doctors then do a physical examination. What they find during the history and physical examination often suggests a cause of the pain and the tests that may need to be done .
Doctors ask particularly about activities that relieve or worsen the pain. Whether the pain or other digestive upset occurs after eating or drinking dairy products is important because lactose intolerance is common, especially among Black, Hispanic, Asian , and American Indian people. Doctors also ask about other symptoms , about diet, and about any surgery involving the abdomen, drugs used, and previous tests and treatments for the pain. Whether any family members have disorders that cause abdominal pain is also important.
Doctors also ask about a persons diet because ingesting large amounts of cola beverages, fruit juices , or gas-producing foods can sometimes be the cause of otherwise puzzling abdominal pain.
Between the initial visit and follow-up visits, people are often asked to record information about the pain, bowel movements, diet, any activities that seem to trigger pain, any remedies tried, and the effects of the remedies.
Causes Of Stomach Pain Based On Location
- Upper right: Gallstones, cholecystitis, stomach ulcer, duodenal ulcer, hepatitis.
- Upper center: Heartburn/indigestion, hiatal hernia, epigastric hernia, stomach ulcer, duodenal ulcer, hepatitis.
- Upper left: Functional dyspepsia, stomach ulcer, gastritis, pancreatitis.
- Middle right: Kidney stones, kidney infection, inflammatory bowel disease , constipation.
- Middle center: Umbilical hernia, appendicitis, stomach ulcer, IBD, pancreatitis.
- Middle left: Kidney stones, kidney infection, IBD, constipation.
- Lower right: Appendicitis, IBD, constipation, pelvic pain.
- Lower center: Bladder infection, prostatitis, IBD, inguinal hernia, pelvic pain.
- Lower left: Constipation, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, IBD, pelvic pain, inguinal hernia.
When to Seek Medical Help
According to Dr. Kingsley, you should call your primary care physician if mild pain lasts more than a couple of days, or if the severe stomach pain is accompanied by other symptoms.
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.
When to make an appointment to see your doctor
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What To Expect At Your Office Visit
Your provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and medical history. Your specific symptoms, the location of pain and when it occurs will help your provider detect the cause.
LOCATION OF YOUR PAIN
- Where do you feel the pain?
- Is it all over or in one spot?
- Does the pain move into your back, groin, or down your legs?
TYPE AND INTENSITY OF YOUR PAIN
- Is the pain severe, sharp, or cramping?
- Do you have it all the time, or does it come and go?
- Does the pain wake you up at night?
HISTORY OF YOUR PAIN
- Have you had similar pain in the past? How long has each episode lasted?
- When does the pain occur? For example, after meals or during menstruation?
- What makes the pain worse? For example, eating, stress, or lying down?
- What makes the pain better? For example, drinking milk, having a bowel movement, or taking an antacid?
- What medicines are you taking?
OTHER MEDICAL HISTORY
- Have you had a recent injury?
- Are you pregnant?
When To See A Doctor About Stomach Pain
If your stomach problems stick around for a few days or more, its time to call your doctor and talk to them about any irregular stomach pains or frequent pain, diarrhea, nausea or constipation.
As you prepare for your appointment, keep track of what you eat or if theres anything about your lifestyle that may cause stomach pain, Dr. McKee says. Being aware of all noticeable symptoms you experience can help us determine the cause.
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Treatment For Abdominal Pain In Adults
Your treatment depends on what is causing your pain, but may include:
- Pain relief â your pain may not go away fully with painkillers, but it should ease.
- Fluids â you may have fluids given into a vein to correct fluid loss and rest your bowel.
- Medicines â for example, you may be given something to stop you vomiting.
- Fasting â your doctor may ask you not to eat or drink anything until the cause of your pain is known.
Chronic Abdominal Pain Symptoms
Symptoms of chronic abdominal pain vary from patient to patient, and they may change with each episode. The most common symptoms include:
- Sharp or dull pain
- Severe pain that causes you to become sweaty, cry or bend over in pain
- Pain that lasts a few minutes or hours
- Pain in the belly button area or anywhere in the belly
- Pain that may or may not be related to eating
- Pain that occurs any time of the day or night
- Abdominal pain that occurs with vomiting, headaches, or pain in the arms or legs
- Not being hungry like usual or skipping meals, usually without losing weight
Symptoms that require a doctors immediate attention include a high fever, loss of appetite or weight, pain that awakens the person, blood in stool or urine, jaundice, severe nausea and vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and swelling of the legs or abdomen.
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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 Call A Doctor
Bottom line: If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s time to call a doctor.
- Bloody diarrhea, stools or vomit
- Black stools
- Persistent fever over 100.4 degrees
- Signs of severe dehydration, like feeling dizzy or a lack of tears or urine
- Unintentional weight loss or loss of appetite
- Diarrhea that lasts for longer than three days
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What Helps Anxiety In The Stomach
Anxiety is an emotion that can make people feel unease, nervousness, and uncertainty. It can strike at any time and last for as long as it takes for the body and mind to return to normal. For some people, anxiety can be a chronic feeling. For others, it can come in waves.
For some people the cause of their anxiety will be obvious but for others, it may be more of a mystery.
Wherever it comes from and whatever the cause, anxiety can have a big impact on your life some people with anxiety experience it as a sense of dread while others feel overwhelming worry or nervousness. For many people with anxiety, it manifests itself physically in stomachaches or headaches.
Others feel despair and hopelessness which often leads to depression. Many people with anxiety also feel the need to take more and more medication even if it is not helping their symptoms this is known as self-medicating with drugs or alcohol which only worsens the problem since drugs are addictive substances.
Anxiety is more than just a feeling its an emotional response to a problem. If youre looking for more information about anxiety read on for a deeper look at what anxiety is, how it affects your life, and how you can get help if you need it.
Explained: The Link Between Stress And Stomach Problems
If you are experiencing stomach problems, then you may also be feeling stressed. When we experience high levels of stress, our gut also feels this stress. Stress and anxiety have been linked to chronic health problems such as heart disease, depression, and obesity. There is also a connection between stomach gurgling and bloating, constipation, and stomach pain. Further symptoms of stress induced stomach gurgling include:
- Bad Bacteria Grows, Good Bacteria Dies
- Reduced production of Serotonin
If your stomach gurgling is a symptom of stress, there are many things you can do to change your behavior and response to stress. In general, most of us will often respond to stressful events in a poor way. We will wait and hope that the source of our stress goes away by itself, excessively shop, drink alcohol, treat ourselves to something we want, or gamble. As a result, we then experience more stress and get stuck in a vicious circle.
There are far better ways to handle stress, including:
- Remove the Source of Stress
- List Ways to Solve the Problem
Learn these 3 simple steps to boost digestive health in the morning from BIOHM Health:
How do you manage stomach disturbances? Are you experiencing persistent stomach growling after eating? Lets talk about gut health in the comments below. Up Next:
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Common Causes Of Stomach Pain
Harmless abdominal pain usually subsides or goes away within two hours. Some of the common causes for stomach pain are from:
- Gas: Formed in the stomach and intestines as your body breaks down food, gas can cause general stomach pain and cramps. This often can be indicated by belching or flatulence.
- Bloating: Related to gas, bloating occurs when excess gas builds up in your digestive tract. Your stomach usually will feel full, and you may experience cramps.
- Constipation: This occurs when you are having difficulty making bowel movements. If you are having two or fewer bowel movements a week, constipation is the likely cause. In addition to feeling bloated and uncomfortable, you may experience cramping and pain in your rectum.
- Indigestion: This is typically experienced as an upset stomach, burning, or belly pain after eating.
- Stomach flu: Your stomach may hurt before each episode of vomiting or diarrhea.