Why is belly pain such a health care bear? First, it's a bit of a black box. Conditions that cause it can be immediately life-threatening (such as a leaking aortic aneurysm or a ruptured ectopic pregnancy) or painful but not all that serious (intestinal cramps or ruptured ovarian cysts) or somewhere in between - Dr. Zachary F. Meisel
You probably don't think about the internal workings of your belly much -- unless they're red-flagging you with sharp pain, aches, or cramping. Even then, you may dismiss the discomfort or pain as just transient gas -- or some other minor intestinal disturbance -- and simply wait for it to go away.
But you don't have to live with the pain. Whether your abdominal pain or discomfort is a sharp, short-term annoyance or a chronic hurt that dogs you regularly, you have options for making it go away. The first step is figuring out what's causing the pain so that you can treat the source.
What's Going On in There? Sometimes it's difficult to determine the root cause of a bellyache. The source of the pain could be any one of a number of structures and organs within your abdomen, including your appendix, kidneys, liver, reproductive organs, and aorta;, or it could be caused by any of the organs involved in digestion, such as your stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, or intestines. You also have a myriad of muscles, tendons, and other connective tissue located in this region of the body. Abdominal pain could even be caused by problems completely unrelated to the abdomen, such as a heart attack or pneumonia.
So if you have abdominal pain, and it's chronic, moderate to severe, or in any way worrisome to you, it's best to get a doctor's opinion on what might be amiss. Otherwise, it's just a guessing game. Your doctor will ask you questions about your pain -- questions that, combined with your medical history and physical exam, are designed to help pinpoint the possible causes of your symptoms.
Tell Your Doctor...
- When the pain began
- Where the pain is located
- What kind of pain it is (sharp, dull, throbbing, etc.)
- How severe the pain is
- Whether the pain is in a specific location or all over
- How frequently you feel the pain
- What makes it worse
- What makes it better
- How the pain is affecting your life
Is It Serious? Abdominal pain can vary greatly, from minor to excruciating. But here's the kicker: Sometimes excruciating pain can result from something pretty harmless. For example, most people know what it's like to be doubled over with gas pain. Yet some serious problems, such as celiac disease or colon cancer, may not cause you too much discomfort in the early stages.
So don't judge your problems solely by the severity of your pain. Severe, incapacitating pain is always a reason to see your doctor right away. But for mild to moderate pain, consider the following red flags as well, and call your doctor if you experience them:
- Abdominal discomfort that lasts a week or longer
- Abdominal swelling
- Bloating that lasts longer than 2 days (not associated with PMS)
- Diarrhea for more than 3 days
- Fever with your pain
- Pain that develops during pregnancy (or possible pregnancy)
- Prolonged poor appetite
- Tenderness of the abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss
- Black, tarry stool
- Thin, ribbon-like stool
Signs that you need to see a doctor immediately include a rigid abdomen; a high fever with your pain (over 101°F); bloody diarrhea or vomit; an inability to pass stool, gas, or urine; or pain that is incapacitating, lasts several hours, is accompanied by vomiting, or might be symptomatic of a medical emergency, such as a heart attack.
Smart Self-Care - For mild cases of abdominal pain or discomfort, or for a little relief from the pain until you see your doctor, here are six self-help steps you can try. They may help relieve some, but not all, instances of gastrointestinal pain.
- Drink plenty of water, but take infrequent, small sips.
- Avoid foods that are known to exacerbate some causes of abdominal pain, such as gas, diarrhea, constipation, or heartburn. This includes greasy foods, spicy foods, citrus, tomato products, dairy products, and chocolate.
- Cut back on foods and beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine.
- Avoid medications known to irritate the stomach lining, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If your prescription medications cause stomach upset, speak to your doctor before discontinuing them.
- For pain related to stomach acid, try over-the-counter antacids. Gas pain may be relieved with antacids that contain simethicone and activated charcoal.
- After pain subsides, eat a bland diet for a day or so.
Some digestive problems are minor and can be remedied with self-care. Others may require prescription treatments or -- although rare -- may constitute a potential medical emergency. The first step: Speak with your healthcare provider so you can get an accurate diagnosis. If you have regular abdominal troubles, make an appointment today.
Source: When Abdominal Pain or Discomfort Strikes, ShareCare, August 2009.
It took me two months to fix it.
Doctors still don’t know what causes it, or how to stop it.
Lower abdominal or pelvic pain is common and can be caused by a variety of conditions and diseases, from endometriosis or fibroids to urinary tract infections (UTIs) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It can broadly be categorised into two groups: acute or sudden onset pain, and chronic or longer standing pain.
By the time Thomas Hodorowski made the connection between his marijuana habit and the bouts of pain and vomiting that left him incapacitated every few weeks, he had been to the emergency room dozens of times, tried anti-nausea drugs, anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, endured an upper endoscopy procedure and two colonoscopies, seen a psychiatrist and had his appendix and gallbladder removed.
The only way to get relief for the nausea and pain was to take a hot shower.
Your trousers fit when you put them on in the morning. But come mid-afternoon, they’re uncomfortably tight – and you didn’t even overdo it at lunchtime. Sound familiar?
Around one in six people without a health problem and three in four people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) report problems with bloating. In fact, for people with IBS and constipation, bloating is their most troublesome symptom.
The pain came on whenever she ate, but it was worse when she ate bread or pasta. Celiac disease seemed to fit: In this disorder, gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat and rye, triggers the body’s immune system to attack the absorptive lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
Abdominal pain is rarely an emergency, and usually doesn’t warrant an after hours call to your doctor. So for now, relax, don’t rush to page your doctor just yet. Read through this section first, and then decide what to do. If you think your child has one of the serious causes as described below, go to the ER right away. If the pain is not serious, but goes on for several days, you should probably have your pediatrician check it out during office hours.
Can you figure out what is wrong with a 43-year-old woman who suddenly develops abdominal pain so powerful that it wakes her up from sleep?
These are perhaps the toughest cases that doctors face: A patient comes in critically ill — dying, really — with few clues as to what is going on.
As other ER staff around me examined the board, the groans began. Anyone who works in an emergency department knows why: treating patients with belly pain is the ER doctor's booby prize. Invariably, care involves dealing with bodily fluids, internal exams and choosing between a dizzying array of diagnostic tests and therapies. Diagnosis is not easy.
Whether your abdominal pain or discomfort is a sharp, short-term annoyance or a chronic hurt that dogs you regularly, you have options for making it go away. The first step is figuring out what's causing the pain so that you can treat the source.
Ordinarily, we are unaware of any of the actions of the organs in the abdomen or any discomfort from activities such as eating, movement of food through the intestines, or bowel movements. Nerves are constantly monitoring activities in the body, and when those messages are transmitted to the brain and come into consciousness as unpleasant sensations, we may sense pain or discomfort.
Abdopain.com is a medical website providing trusted medical information on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of abdominal pain, written by qualified medical doctors with wide range of international medical experience, for patients since 2005.
Abdominal pain without fever, vomiting, vaginal bleeding, passing out, chest pain, or other serious symptoms often get better without special treatment.
Extensive resource for abdominal pain.
This notebook is intended to aid primary care providers in their pursuit of optimal care, well-informed patients, and healthy families.
Occasionally, pain may be felt in the abdomen even though it is arising from organs that are close to but not within the abdominal cavity, for example, the lower lungs, the kidneys, and the uterus or ovaries. This latter type of pain is called "referred" pain because the pain, though originating outside the abdomen, is being referred to (felt) in the abdominal area
Many different conditions can cause abdominal pain. The key is to know when you need to get immediate medical care. Sometimes you may only need to call a doctor if your symptoms continue.
A stomach ache usually refers to cramps or a dull ache in the belly (abdomen). It is normally short lived and caused by a minor upset or bug.
Severe abdominal pain is a greater cause for concern. If it starts suddenly and unexpectedly, it should be regarded as a medical emergency, especially if the pain is concentrated in a particular area
Pain in the abdomen (tummy pain) is common. Usually it doesn't last long and is often due to a gut infection or a small upset - but there are many other possible causes. Pain that is severe or doesn't settle quickly may need attention from a doctor.
The presence of abdominal pain is an indicator of abnormal activity in the gut area. There are numerous causes for abdominal pain, ranging from simple indigestion to life threatening conditions. Since the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and kidneys are all in the abdominal region, the cramping may be an indicator of abnormal activity in those organs rather than the stomach and intestines themselves.