Abdominal (stomach) pain is a frequent condition. There are many more potential reasons, but often they are short-lived and brought on by a slight upset or a gut infection. You may need a doctor to treat this uncertain pain.
The pain may occur due to common gas issues or some serious health condition like appendicitis or Crohn’s disease. Your doctor can diagnose its root cause if you take note of the exact location of the pain and the level of discomfort.
What causes abdominal pain?
We describe abdominal pain as discomfort in the abdomen area, between the ribs and the pelvis. Sometimes it is also called stomach pain or a stomachache. However, the organs outside the stomach can also cause abdominal pain.
Your abdomen is home to your:
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
Consult your doctor if you are suffering from severe abdominal pain for no reason.
There are various ways that abdominal pain might appear. Abdominal pain can be characterized in the following ways, in addition to how intense it is:
- Severe discomfort. This term describes pain that affects more than half of your abdominal area and may be due to gas, indigestion, or stomach infections.
- Local pain. This describes pain that just affects one part of your abdomen and is typical of an organ-related problem involving your stomach, appendix, or gallbladder.
- This kind of discomfort fluctuates in intensity or perceived location in your belly. Typically, gas, passing a stool, or menstruation are the causes of your pain, and cramping is rarely serious.
- Colicky Pain. Like cramps, this sort of pain comes and goes, although it frequently lasts a long time and ends abruptly. Gallstones or kidney stones are frequently the sources of pain.
The causes of stomach pain are numerous. You should understand your symptoms and take action accordingly. It is good to wait patiently until your symptoms get worse.
Below are some less severe reasons for stomach pain:
- Rheumatoid bowel syndrome
- Food intolerance or allergies, including lactose intolerance
- Foodborne illness
- Abdominal flu
- Other root causes include:
- Bowel obstruction or blockage
- Colon (large gut), stomach, and other organs cancer
- Cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation), whether or not there are gallstones present
- Ischemic bowel, which has a decreased blood flow to the intestines
- Diverticulitis (colon infection and inflammation)
- Stomach discomfort or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Inflammatory bowel illness
- Renal stones
- Muscle ache
- Inflammatory illness of the womb (PID)
- An ovarian cyst that has burst
- Painful period cramps
- (Ectopic) Tubal pregnancy
- UTIs (urinary tract infections)
When to seek treatment for abdominal pain
It is important to keep an eye on your symptoms of abdominal pain. You should consult your doctor if your abdominal discomfort is severe and does not go away.
If your doctor suspects a serious underlying condition causing your abdominal pain, they may order additional diagnostic tests such as an abdominal ultrasound, X-ray, or even an endoscopic procedure. In some cases, they may provide you with a QR code to schedule these tests conveniently and efficiently.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, immediately contact your doctor:
- Unable to keep food down for longer than two days.
- Dehydration symptoms like unable to urinate as frequently as usual, black urine, and extreme thirst.
- Discomfort during urinating or a frequent need to urinate
Other symptoms you experience could point to a health issue that requires immediate attention from a physician. If you are experiencing stomach pain and you are also:
- Vomit blood
- Observe any red or tarry bowel motions.
- Having issues breathing
- You frequently throw up, your belly swells, your skin is yellow, and you are pregnant.
- Have lost weight unexpectedly
How is stomach pain identified?
Your doctor can identify it by evaluating your symptoms through a physical examination, and some tests. He may also ask about your other medical issues.
Your doctor might inquire about the following features of your stomach pain:
- In what location
- How powerful it is
- Any dull, stabbing, burning, or cramping sensations
- Whether it is cyclical
- When you most notice or experience it
- Do you feel pain in other body parts too
- How long have you had it?
- Do the symptoms alleviate by doing some specific activities
- Do some actions make the pain worse
- Inquiries from your physician may also include your past medical history, any significant injuries, and whether you might be pregnant.
Any of the following tests may be used to help identify the origin of your stomach discomfort. These are necessary to detect a serious medical condition that may require treatment:
- Tests using blood, urine, or feces
- Abdomen-related X-ray
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Abdomen-focused computer tomography (CT) scan
- X-ray of the colon with barium
- Endoscopic procedures (the insertion of a tube with a tiny camera into your mouth or rectum to examine regions inside your digestive tract)
- ECG, or EKG, stands for electrocardiogram.
How do you treat abdominal pain?
The reason for the stomach pain determines the course of treatment. The optimal course of treatment for your pain may include self-care techniques, over-the-counter or prescription drugs, or treatments like drug injections or surgery. This will depend on the reason for your pain.
Simple self-care methods like the ones listed below could alleviate mild stomach pain from digestive upset:
- A couple of hours with no solid foods
- Drinking clear liquids such as water
- Resting until you feel better
- Cut down using caffeine, fizzy drinks, fatty foods, citrus fruits, dairy products
- Simethicone-containing medications like Mylanta and Gas-X can help relieve gas pain.
- Try an antacid or acid reducer (Pepcid AC, Zantac 75) if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)-related heartburn.
- A moderate laxative or stool softener can help with constipation and get things going again.
- Loperamide (Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol)-containing medications may provide relief for diarrhea-related cramping.
How can you prevent abdominal pain?
Abdominal pain is easy to prevent. You can handle its symptoms with simple eating and lifestyle changes:
- A nutritious diet
- Consuming lots of water
- Working out frequently
- Taking smaller meals
- Strictly follow the recommended diet if you have an intestinal disorder
- Abdominal pain and heartburn can occur if you lie down right after eating
- Try to avoid lying down for at least two hours after eating.
Abdominal pain has several reasons. You can feel it at different locations in your body. Sometimes you do not need any specific treatment for this. And if you find it attacking you severely, it’s time to get serious. Consult your doctor about your symptoms and treatment options.
1. What organ causes abdominal pain?
The contraction of a hollow organ, such as the intestine, gallbladder, or urinary system, causes colic, which is abdominal discomfort that comes and goes in waves.
2. Who manages abdominal aches?
A gastroenterologist is a medical doctor who specializes in conditions that impact the digestive system.
3. When are stomach aches serious?
If your abdominal pain is so severe that moving would only make it worse, or if you are unable to sit still or find a comfortable posture, call your doctor immediately.