Abdominal pain

Abdominal pain: Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Do you suffer from abdominal pain? Then, you can experience discomfort in the areas between your chest and pelvic region. The pain you experience can vary from dull, sharp, crampy, intermittent or crampy based on the underlying factor triggering it. The pain is also referred to as stomachache. The severity of the pain depends on the problem causing it. If you experience severe and frequent pain that stops you from performing your daily functions, then you need to see a doctor. It is important to diagnose the problem causing it to get proper treatment.

What Is Abdominal Pain?

When any of your organs in the abdominal region suffers from inflammation or diseases, it results in pain in your abdomen. The organs in the abdomen are:

  • Kidneys
  • Intestines (small and large)
  • Spleen
  • Appendix
  • Stomach
  • Gallbladder
  • Pancreas
  • Liver

Several conditions affecting the major organs in the abdominal region can result in pain and discomfort. Infections, inflammation or trauma can lead to the agony. So, you need to see a doctor, which will help determine the exact cause and severity of the problem. With early intervention, you can manage the condition from escalating into something worse.

Causes And Signs Of Abdominal Pain

abdominal painYou can experience pain in the abdominal region due to many conditions. The causes can range from simple to severe. Want to know more about it, then read ahead.

Infections

Viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections can result in pain in your abdomen. The infections occurring in the blood, intestines, or throat can enter your digestive tract leading to pain. The infections can change your digestion and result in the following:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach flu (gastroenteritis)
  • Acid reflux
  • Vomiting

Female Reproductive Issues

Most of the women suffer from cramps due to menstruation. It is a common source of lower abdominal pain. In some cases, the issues with pregnancy (like ectopic pregnancy) can result in pain. In such cases, you need to see a doctor immediately. Abnormal growths in the uterus can also result in pain.

Stress

Stress is a negative emotion triggering pain in the stomach. People under severe stress can experience stomach ache.

Diseases Causing Abdominal Pain

Diseases Causing Abdominal Pain
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Certain diseases affecting the digestive system can trigger chronic pain in the abdomen. The common diseases resulting in the condition are:

  • GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (the disorder can cause changes in the bowel movements, pain, and cramping)
  • Lactose Intolerance (the condition can cause an inability to digest lactose, which is the sugar you find in milk as well as milk products)
  • Crohn’s disease (the inflammatory bowel disease)

Conditions Causing Severe Abdominal Pain

Some conditions can trigger severe pain in the abdominal region. It requires medical intervention to deal with the problem. The condition causing such problems are:

  • Gallstones (stones in the gallbladder)
  • Near or complete organ rupture (appendicitis or burst appendix)
  • Kidney infections
  • Kidney stones

Types Of Abdominal Pain

People can suffer from abdominal pain differently. So, it is classified into different types based on how you feel it. Depending on your experience, you can classify it as

Localized Pain

As the name suggests, the pain is limited to a specific area of your abdomen. So, when you suffer from pain in one area of the abdomen, it indicates an underlying issue in a particular organ. Stomach ulcers are a common issue causing localized pain. The problem can result in open sores on your stomach lining. The sores on the inner lining of the stomach can trigger pain.

Cramp-Like Pain

You can experience cramp-like pain in the abdominal region. The pain can come and go. It can easily subside on its own without treatment. But, some cases need medical assistance to manage the condition causing them. Cramp-like pain can occur due to the following health issues:

  • Flatulence
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Menstruation
  • Problems in the female reproductive organs
  • Miscarriage
  • Pregnancy-related complications

Depending on the severity of the pain and the underlying cause, you need to seek assistance from a medical professional to deal with the issue.

Colicky Pain

This form of pain causes you severe discomfort. The pain occurs suddenly. It feels like a severe muscle spasm and leaves to unable to do anything. Such type of pain occurs when you have underlying health issues like

Identifying The Underlying Cause Of Abdominal Pain Based On Location

Identifying The Underlying Cause Of Abdominal Pain Based On Location

The exact location and type of pain you suffer can help you identify the underlying factor causing the problem. It is the clue that can help you uncover the seriousness of the situation. With early medical intervention, you can manage the condition better.

Generalized Pain

Generalized pain means that the distress is not limited to one specific area. If you suffer from generalized pain which spreads throughout the abdomen, then it can indicate the following conditions:

  • Traumatic Injury
  • Appendicitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • The flu

Lower Abdominal Pain

The pain occurring in the lower abdominal region can occur due to the following conditions:

  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Appendicitis

Women who suffer pain in the lower abdomen can have issues with the reproductive organs. So, the following issues can result in lower abdominal pain

  • A pregnancy occurring in the fallopian tube (Ectopic pregnancy)
  • Dysmenorrhea (severe menstrual pain)
  • Miscarriage
  • Ovarian Cysts
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

Upper Abdominal Pain

You can suffer pain in the upper quadrant of your pain due to some health complications. The underlying problems resulting in distress, as well as discomfort, are:

Central Abdominal Pain

The pain you experience in the center of the abdomen can occur due to the following health conditions:

  • Uremia (the buildup of waste products in the bloodstream)
  • Appendicitis
  • Trauma or injury
  • Gastroenteritis

Lower Left Abdominal Pain

Lower left abdominal pain can occur due to severe health conditions, which requires immediate medical attention. So, you can suffer from pain in the specific region due to the following conditions:

  • Appendicitis
  • Kidney Infection
  • Cancer
  • Ovarian Cysts

Upper Left Abdominal Pain

If you observe pain in the upper left quadrant of your abdomen, then it can occur due to several conditions like:

  • Cancer
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Injury
  • Fecal impaction (hardened stool that becomes difficult to eliminate)
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney infection

Right Abdominal Pain

Some underlying cause leading to the pain in your right side of the abdomen. The possible conditions resulting in pain are:

  • Cancer
  • Appendicitis
  • Hernia
  • Kidney infection
  • Flu

Upper Right Abdominal Pain

People may experience pain in their upper right side of the abdomen. It can occur due to health conditions like:

In most cases, mild cases of stomach pain can go away without any treatment. But, severe cases or frequent pain requires medical attention. So, you need to make a trip to your doctor to manage the condition. When should you seek medical assistance? It is the question that most of the people have in their mind. Remember to see a doctor when you experience severe pain or you suffer trauma. The pain resulting from an accident or injury needs medical attention. Similarly, you need to see a doctor when you experience pain or pressure in the chest. Check out for signs in the body along with severe pain causing you discomfort. Therefore, contact a doctor when you have any of the following with severe pain like

  • High fever
  • Bloody stools
  • Yellowing of eyes or skin
  • Hematemesis (vomiting blood)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Severe tenderness/swelling in your abdomen

You need to seek medical help when you experience any of the symptoms suggested below as it can indicate some serious health problem:

  • Abdominal pain lasting longer than 24 hours
  • Vomiting
  • Prolonged constipation
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty during urination (burning sensation)

Women who experience pain in the abdomen during pregnancy or breastfeeding need to see their doctor immediately.

Diagnosis Of Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain can occur due to underlying health issues. But, to determine the exact reason for the problem, you need medical assistance. Your doctor can perform a series of tests to detect the exact health issue triggering the pain. It is essential to know the exact cause to develop an ideal treatment plan. So, your doctor can suggest the following tests to detect the source of the pain.

Physical Assessment

The first line of testing involving a thorough physical examination. It will help your doctor determine the source of your pain. Any organ in the abdominal region can trigger pain. You can experience pain due to problems with liver, kidney or stomach. So, your doctor gently presses the different areas of your abdomen. It will help detect any swelling or tenderness. You need to convey the severity of the pain you experience to the doctor. Combined with the location where the pain originates, your doctor can suggest further tests to detect the issue.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests are the sophisticated technology to determine the exact underlying cause of your pain. The different imaging tests can provide comprehensive details on the internal organs that can trigger pain in the abdominal region. The imaging tests used to detect the problem causing you pain are:

  • X-rays
  • Ultrasounds
  • MRI scans

Based on the physical assessment, your doctor can suggest the ideal imaging test to gain comprehensive information about the problems triggering pain. It will help uncover problems like:

  • Inflammation
  • Ruptures
  • Fractures
  • Tumors

Other Tests

Your doctor can suggest other tests to detect the problem accurately. It is because the imaging tests may not provide comprehensive information about the problem in some cases. So, you may need the following tests to detect the issue causing you pain in the abdomen.

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy

It is a test to look inside your colon as well as the intestines and detect any complications. The outpatient procedure can examine the inside of the large intestine, including your rectum and colon. The test is used commonly to evaluate the gastrointestinal problems like change in bowel habits or bleeding in your rectum and intestine.

Endoscopy

Endoscopy

It is the non-surgical procedure used to detect the abnormalities in your digestive tract. Using the endoscope, your doctor can detect complications like inflammation or other problems in your stomach and esophagus. The endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a camera at one end. It is sent through your throat into the digestive tract. The doctor observes the live pictures on the TV monitor and determines the problem causing pain.

Upper GI

The upper GI is a group of x-ray tests to look into the abnormalities in your esophagus (food pipe), stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) when they work. The special x-ray test uses a contrast dye to get clear images of the UGI. So, it can assist your doctor in determining problems like ulcers, blockages, growth, inflammation or other abnormalities in the stomach.

Detect Infections

Apart from the tests mentioned above, your doctor can take samples of your blood, urine or stool for analysis. It can detect the evidence of infections caused by bacteria, virus or other parasites.

Depending on the underlying problems, you will get treatment for abdominal pain. For mild cases, your doctor can suggest taking medications or change your diet. Including physical activities in your lifestyle can also offer relief from pain. In severe cases, you need to undergo surgery. The main goal of the treatment is to offer your high quality of life by making you feel your best. Therefore, for ensuring effective treatment, it is important to diagnose the problem accurately.

Treatment Of Abdominal Pain

The treatment of pain in your abdomen depends entirely on the underlying cause. So, your doctor can suggest treatment options based on the condition triggering it. But, as the first line of action, your doctor can suggest pain-relief medications manage the agony.

OTC Medications

For simple cases of abdominal pain, your doctor can suggest over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce the severity of discomfort. So, you can take the following medications to prevent excruciating pain in your abdomen.

  • You can take the medication with ingredient simethicone to manage gas pain
  • For people suffering from heartburn, antacid or acid reducers can do wonders. It is ideal for individuals suffering from GERD.
  • If you suffer from stomach pain due to constipation, then mild stool softener or laxative can offer relief by getting the things to move again.
  • People who experience cramping pain due to diarrhea need medication with loperamide or bismuth subsalicylate as its ingredient. It will help manage the condition.
  • Acetaminophen is suggested to control other types of pain. It will ease the agony and distress caused by stomach pain.

While taking medication, you need to stay away from NSAIDs (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatories). The medications can irritate your stomach. So, you will feel worse due to taking NSAIDs.

Other Treatment Options

Based on the underlying condition, your doctor can suggest, surgery or other techniques to get relief from the pain in the abdominal region.

Preventing Abdominal Pain

You cannot prevent all forms of abdominal pain. Only some underlying causes are preventable. But, you can minimize the risk of developing the pain in your abdominal region by following the steps suggested below:

Eat A Healthy Diet

You need to eat a healthy diet that will prevent abdominal pain caused due to digestion problems. A gut-friendly diet can optimize digestion and manage gas. It also heals inflammation and promotes the levels of good bacteria. So, you can consult your doctor to learn about the diet you have to include in your daily routine to prevent pain.

Exercise Regularly

Include physical activity in your life can offer protection against specific disorders and diseases. The blood circulation increases during physical activity. So, it can prevent bloating and pain.

Slow Down

People eat big bites of food and swallow it without chewing properly. It can cause air to go inside your stomach. The excess air in the stomach can cause gas, leading to stomach pain. Therefore, take small bites of food and chew it properly. Take your time to swallow the food and avoid rushing. Chewing slowly will also give time for your brain to realize the stomach is full. It will prevent overeating.

Eat Several Small Meals

If you suffer from abdominal pain between meals, then it means you have no buffer acid in your stomach. So, you need to avoid the condition by eating several small meals throughout the day. You can also eat snacks spaced out to keep your stomach full. It prevents gas formation due to an empty stomach.

Drink More Water

Apart from providing hydration, the water helps moving things in your gut. It helps you stay regular. Always drink water instead of soda. Carbonated drinks can worsen pain in your stomach. The fizz in the drinks can lead to gas. So, drink water when you feel thirsty. Some people can experience trouble when they consume alcoholic or caffeinated beverages. Therefore, steer clear of them if they cause trouble to your stomach.

Wash Your Hands

In most of the cases, people can suffer from stomach pain due to gastroenteritis. It is caused by a stomach bug or stomach virus. It mostly transfers from the surfaces into your stomach through your hands. The problem can cause fever, headache, nausea, and diarrhea. To prevent the condition, you need to wash your hands properly before eating, after visiting public places, and after going to the bathroom.

Manage Stress

People can face challenges in their life, which makes them feel anxious or stressed. While some people feel their palms sweat or heart race, others can experience pain in the abdomen. Stress can make their stomach churn. It also makes them feel their stomach is tied up in knots. So, you need to avoid stressful situations that can cause the feeling. You can also try some relaxation techniques like meditation, exercise, or hang out with friends. If the methods show no results, then you need to consult a therapist or doctor to know the methods to manage the problem.

Avoid Lying Down Immediately After Food Consumption

When you lie down immediately after consuming food, it can result in heartburn and abdominal pain. So, you need to wait at least two hours after eating food to lie down.

Manage Intestinal Disorder

People suffering from an intestinal disorder like Crohn’s disease need to follow the diet as suggested by the doctor. It will minimize the discomfort. Individuals who suffer from GERD must avoid eating within two hours of bedtime.

Conclusion

Abdominal pain can go away with adequate medical attention. In some cases, you need invasive options to manage the condition. When you experience pain, see a doctor determine the exact cause of the issue. It will help you get the necessary treatment to get good outcomes. You will get relief from the symptoms and continue with your life. With medical attention, you always have a good outcome. You can deal with serious health complications with immediate medical intervention.

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