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Abdominal Pain

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Abdominal Pain Symptoms

Even though abdominal pain is generic, there are several symptoms that can indicate that you are experiencing a type of abdominal pain, such as:

  • Bloating
  • Belching
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Discomfort in any part of the abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease)
  • Heartburn
  • Chest discomfort
  • Pelvic discomfort
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4 Ways to Describe Abdominal Pain

  1. Generalized pain: This is when you feel abdominal pain in more than half of your stomach. This pain is normal for stomach flu, indigestion, or gas. However, if it becomes severe, it may be caused by a blockage of the intestines.
  2. Localized pain: this is pain found in one central area of your belly, and points to a problem in the organ, such as the appendix, gallbladder, or stomach.
  3. Cramp-like pain: while common for women, this type of pain is rarely ever serious. It typically occurs during the menstrual cycle and is likely due to gas, bloating, and sometimes diarrhea. If the pain lasts more than 24 hours or is accompanied by a fever, you should seek medical help immediately.
  4. Colicky pain: this type of pain comes in waves. One second you may feel no pain at all, while the next, you feel extreme pain. Kidney stones and gallstones are common causes of this type of belly pain. Colicky pain is often severe and shouldn’t go ignored. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your nearest ER as soon as possible

Conditions Causing Abdominal Pain

Many conditions can cause abdominal pain. Pain can vary anywhere from a mild gas or stomach cramp due to more severe, and potentially fatal pain in need of immediate medical assistance. However, the main causes of abdominal pain include:

  • Infection
  • Abnormal growths
  • Inflammation
  • Obstruction (blockage)
  • Intestinal disorders

Women may also experience lower abdominal pain during menstruation, but these cramps are more commonly known to cause pelvic pain. You may also get abdominal pain if you’re lactose intolerant or have ulcers or pelvic inflammatory disease. The most common include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Gluten intolerance (celiac disease)
  • Hernia
  • Kidney stones
  • Gallbladder stones (gallstones)
  • Appendicitis (ruptured appendix) or any other ruptured abdominal organ
  • Endometriosis
  • Appendicitis
  • Diverticulitis
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Less Common Causes of Abdominal Pain

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
  • Acid reflux
  • Vomiting
  • Food poisoning
  • Stress
  • Parasitic infection

It’s perfectly normal for mild abdominal pain to go away without treatment. However, in some cases, abdominal pain is too severe for our bodies to handle without proper treatment. You should seek immediate medical care if you are experiencing:

  • Bloody stools
  • Pain during pregnancy
  • A fever over 101F
  • Vomiting up blood
  • Pain that started within a week of having abdominal surgery or a gastrointestinal procedure (even a diagnostic endoscopy)
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling or severe tenderness of the abdomen

Since many of these symptoms tend to overlap, the best way to determine whether you need urgent medical care is to listen to your body and trust your gut. Typically stomach pains are harmless conditions caused by gas, overeating, or indigestion. But sometimes, abdomen pain often signals a larger medical problem. Frequent or recurring sharp stomach pain can point to more serious medical problems like pancreatic diseases. If your abdominal pain is severe, doesn’t go away, or keeps coming back, talk to your doctor right away.

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