Abdominal pain can be a nagging inconvenience that resolves itself over time or an indicator of a serious underlying issue that needs immediate attention. There are a wide range of possible causes of stomach pain including inflammation, infection, unusual growths, blockages and more. It is important to listen to your body and be aware of your pain levels and any additional symptoms. If you are not sure of what is causing your pain, seek medical care.
Simple Causes of Abdominal Pain
Less serious causes of abdominal pain include gas or a pulled muscle. If you have trapped gas in your stomach or intestines, it can cause a tremendous amount of discomfort until the gas is released. There are many over-the-counter medications that can help and it is typically not a serious condition.
Another easily treated cause of stomach pain is a pulled muscle. You may notice redness or swelling and the area may be painful. The best way to treat a pulled muscle is through rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers. You should protect the area as much as possible to avoid any further injury as well.
Complex Causes of Abdominal Pain
IBS, also known as irritable bowel syndrome, is a chronic condition that impacts the large intestine. Symptoms can include bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea in addition to pain. While the exact cause of IBS is unknown, certain lifestyle changes may help improve this condition. Identifying food triggers and eliminating stress can be helpful in reducing IBS flare-ups.
Stomach ulcers appear when the lining of the stomach suffers from breaks. A typical symptom of an ulcer is indigestion which occurs when stomach acid comes into contact with the weakened stomach lining. Peptic ulcers can be culprits of stomach pain as well. They can be caused by bacterial infections as well as long term use of NSAIDs. Treatment may include medications to eliminate the infection and block acid production to give your body time to heal. While ulcers may be easy to treat, if left undiagnosed, they can create serious health issues.
If you’ve ever gone to the emergency room for lower right abdominal pain, you were probably screened for appendicitis immediately. Physicians take this condition very serious because without surgery to remove an inflamed appendix, it can burst or perforate. Signs of appendicitis include stomach pain that may move from the upper abdomen to the lower right abdomen, as well as swelling, fever, and loss of appetite. If you have even the slightest suspicion of appendicitis, seek medical attention immediately.
Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits that form in the kidneys. They may not cause any symptoms until they move around. However, once they move, the sufferer may experience pain urinating, foul smelling or cloudy urine, severe pain that fluctuates in the back, lower abdomen and groin, and nausea and vomiting. Passing kidney stones can be excruciating but usually does not cause long-term negative effects. That said, if a stone becomes lodged in your body or other complications occur, surgery may be necessary.
Intestinal blockages can also occur and may require surgical intervention to correct. These blockages may be caused by adhesions, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis and more. When a person experiences an intestinal blockage, food and liquid may become trapped and unable to escape the body. A person may experience a partial or complete blockage. A partial blockage may be treated with medical supervision and a specially crafted diet while a complete blockage normally requires surgery to correct.
One of the most serious possible causes of stomach pain is cancer. There are many different body parts that can fall prey to cancer and create this type of pain including the kidneys, gallbladder, pancreas, and stomach. Cancer typically progresses and worsens over time, as do the symptoms of the disease. The key to treating cancer is an early diagnosis. If you find that you have reoccuring or unexplained stomach pain that progressively worsens, see a doctor sooner rather than later.
Abdominal Pain Specific to Women
There are conditions specific to women that can cause abdominal discomfort. A very common symptom of menstrual cycles is cramping and discomfort.
Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus causing incredible pain in the abdominal and pelvic areas.
Ectopic pregnancy is another possible cause of abdominal pain in women. When a fertilized egg attaches outside of the uterus, typically to a fallopian tube, it is considered an ectopic pregnancy. This condition creates an environment where the egg cannot survive. The beginnings of an ectopic pregnancy are similar to a standard pregnancy with a positive pregnancy test, and possible missed periods and nausea. However, symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include pelvic and abdominal pain as well as vaginal bleeding and shoulder pain. If left untreated, this condition can cause heavy abdominal bleeding and a ruptured fallopian tube. It is important to seek medical treatment if you have any signs or symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. This is a condition that if left untreated can be fatal.
Ovarian cysts are fluid filled sacs that can rupture resulting in abdominal pain. While these cysts are usually harmless, if you experience nausea, fever, severe pain, fainting, weakness, or changes in breathing, seek medical treatment right away.
Additional Symptoms That Require Immediate Action
While it may be difficult to determine if your stomach pain means you have a serious condition or a condition that can be resolved with rest; if you experience any of these symptoms in addition to your pain, seek medical treatment immediately:
- Unable to eat or hold down food
- Bloody stool
- Fainting or dizziness
- Difficulty breathing
- A hard abdomen
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain
If you are unsure of your health at any time, it is always best to err on the side of caution and seek treatment.
There are many possible causes of abdominal pain. If you are suffering with this type of pain, contact our office. Our medical experts will take the time to listen and understand your symptoms, assess your condition and create a comprehensive treatment plan. Your health and quality of life may be greatly improved with the help of our dedicated professionals.