What is stomach pain?
Stomach pain/Abdominal Pain is pain that occurs in the general tummy area or the area between the chest and the pelvic region. Stomach/Abdominal pains can occur in the form of cramps, a dull ache, or sharp pain.
Stomach pain usually disappears on its own and is not serious. However, if the stomach pain/Abdominal Pain is severe and chronic then it is a cause for concern and needs to be diagnosed by a doctor.
What common symptoms of stomach pain?
The most common symptoms that usually accompany stomach pain are:
- Flatulence (passing the gas)
- The discomfort of the upper left or right; middle; or lower left or right abdomen
- Chest discomfort
What are the serious symptoms of severe stomach pain?
The serious symptoms that cause stomach pain and would require medical attention are:
- Painful urination
- Lack of urination
- Abrupt cessation of bowel movements
- Blood in stools
- Black Stools
What are the causes of stomach pain?
Generally, stomach pains are caused by:
- Pre-menstrual syndrome
- Menstruation cramps in women
- Stomach infection including Gastroenteritis or stomach flu
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Food poisoning
What are the more serious causes which can cause severe stomach pain?
Some health issues can cause severe stomach pain. Such as:
- Endometriosis in women
- Inflammation of an organ like appendicitis, or colitis
- Intestinal obstruction
- Gallstones blocking the bile duct
- Hepatitis causing liver swelling
- Loss of blood supply to an organ, for an example, ischemic colitis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Stomach or peptic ulcers
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and Bladder infections
- Cardiac conditions like atypical angina or congestive heart failure
- Organ cancer
- A hiatal hernia
- Parasitic infections
How to recognize the seriousness of stomach pain?
First of all, recognize what type of pain it is. Is it due to cramps? Does it come and go on its own? Is it a sharp shooting pain? Etc.
Notice what other symptoms are accompanying the stomach pain. If the pain is crampy accompanied by gas it may be related to menstruation if you are a woman. If it is accompanied by vomiting it may be related to indigestion, food intolerance, or acidity.
If the cramps are more severe it could mean the intestines are vigorously contracting.
If the pain is accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting you will need to get a medical diagnosis because it could be stomach infection or something more serious.
If the pain is due to a more serious issue such as appendicitis you will feel a dull pain near the navel or the upper abdomen which becomes sharp as it progresses to the lower right abdomen. Such pain is accompanied by vomiting.
If the pain is acute pancreatitis you may experience a steady pain in the upper abdomen and upper back.
In any case, if stomach pain is steady, severe and is accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting, blood in stools, or even cessation of bowel and bladder movement and any of the other serious symptoms mentioned above you need to get medical attention.
How long does stomach pain last?
The seriousness of the stomach pain can also depend on how long the pain lasts or if it comes and goes intermittently. This, in turn, depends on the cause of the Abdomen/Stomach pain.
Stomach pain and discomfort caused by indigestion, gastritis, acidity, constipation, and even food allergies and intolerance will not continue beyond a few hours.
If the pain is related to acid-related conditions such as GERD or ulcers the pain lasts over a period of weeks or for even months.
If stomach pain is related to IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) it will wax and wane for a period of weeks, months and even years.
If the pain is related to organ cancer or conditions like a hernia it will continue till proper treatment is administered and there is a recovery from the underlying condition.
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What makes the stomach pain worse?
Sudden actions such as coughing or sneezing can cause the pain worse. And of course for serious conditions, if treatment is not taken immediately the pain can become severe with some serious consequences.
How is the cause of stomach pain diagnosed?
If the stomach pain/ Abdominal Pain persist you will need to visit a doctor who will ask you questions regarding your medical history, any recent illnesses, and the food you ate recently, if you suffer from allergies or any of the food intolerance.
The doctor will perform little medical examination by pressing different parts of your abdomen to find out any signs of tenderness, inflammations, mass growth.
He can also suggest you undergo the following tests based on the symptoms accompanying the stomach pain:
- Blood test
- Urine test
- Stool test
- Endoscopic test
- CT scan
What is the treatment for stomach pain?
If the cause of the stomach pain is stomach infections or acidity the doctor can suggest a change of diet and food habits.
He may suggest you eat less and non-spicy foods and drink plenty of water and clear juices. Even in cases of IBS, a change of diet may work.
If the cause of stomach pain is more serious the doctor can suggest surgery i.e. if the causes necessitate it, and prescribe medications.
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