On This Page
What is Abdominal Pain?
Abdominal pain is a discomfort or pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. Some people call this area the stomach region or belly. Since the abdominal area contains many different organs, the pain could be coming from any one of them. The pain might be sharp, dull, cramping, aching, or intermittent. Most of the time, pain in the abdomen is not serious.
Causes of Abdominal Pain
Many different things can cause abdominal pain. These can range from mild, like gas or stomach viruses, to very serious, such as appendicitis or kidney stones. Here are some common causes:
- Indigestion: This is often felt as a burning sensation after eating.
- Gas: You may feel bloated or have sharp pains or cramps.
- Stomach virus: This can cause pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Constipation: Difficulty in bowel movements can lead to pain.
- Food allergies or intolerance: Certain foods can cause discomfort or pain.
- Appendicitis: This causes severe pain in the lower right abdomen and is a medical emergency.
- Kidney stones: These can cause very sharp pain in the back and side.
- Gallstones: Pain often occurs in the upper right abdomen.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): This causes a burning sensation in the chest, generally known as heartburn, and can also cause abdominal pain.
When to See a Doctor
You should consult a doctor if:
- The pain is severe and doesn’t go away in a few hours.
- You have other symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting, or weight loss.
- You can’t keep food down for several days.
- You have blood in your vomit or bowel movements.
- You have difficulty breathing.
- Your abdomen is tender to the touch or swollen.
To diagnose the cause of abdominal pain, your doctor will ask about your medical history, perform a physical examination, and possibly order tests like:
- Blood tests: To check for signs of infection or other conditions.
- Urine tests: To detect kidney stones or urinary tract infections.
- Ultrasounds or CT scans: To get a detailed view of the organs inside your abdomen.
- Endoscopy: To look inside your gastrointestinal tract.
Treatment for abdominal pain depends on the cause. Here are some general approaches:
- For mild pain, over-the-counter medications like antacids or pain relievers might help.
- If an infection is the cause, you might need antibiotics.
- In cases like appendicitis or gallstones, surgery might be required.
- Lifestyle changes like diet and exercise can potentially help in conditions like GERD or constipation.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly to keep your digestive system healthy.
- Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms.
- Practice stress management techniques, as stress can affect your digestive system.
Abdominal pain can be caused by a variety of factors, from minor to severe. So, it’s important to pay attention to your body and seek medical advice if the pain is severe, accompanied by other symptoms, or lasts a week or more.
Further Reading: What Causes Right Side Abdominal Pain? 7 Reasons