Should I be concerned about my occasional abdominal pain?
What Are the Different Types of Abdominal Pain?The abdominal area is filled with vital anatomy like the stomach, small intestine, colon, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, kidneys, reproductive organs, and much more. When these organs cause you pain, there are some general guidelines on the type of pain they cause and where. Keep in mind these generalizations don’t hold true in each case. They include:
- Widespread Abdominal Pain: Pain that is felt throughout more than half of abdomen can indicate a stomach virus or indigestion.
- Localized Pain: An organ such as the gallbladder, appendix, or colon might cause pain that is localized to one area.
- Cramping: This pain is not usually serious unless it’s intense, is accompanied by fever, or lasts longer than a day.
- Colicky Pain: Colic is defined as pain that comes in waves. This type of pain could indicate a more serious problem like a bowel obstruction, kidney stones, or gallstones.
What Are the Main Causes of Abdominal Pain?Because there are so many organs and structures in the abdominal cavity, there are numerous causes of abdominal pain. A partial list includes:Common Causes: Gas, indigestion, constipation, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or menstrual crampsOther causes include a wide variety of disorders and conditions such as:
- Stomach ulcers
- Kidney stones
- Crohn’s Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Food allergies
- Food poisoning
- Bowel obstruction
When Should I Worry About My Abdominal Pain?Self-diagnosis is effective for heartburn or gas. However, be sure to see your doctor if you’re experiencing new and unusual symptoms. See a doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Bloody vomit
- Bloody or tarry bowel movements
- Inability to pass stool
- Abdominal pain the creeps up into the chest, neck, or shoulder
- Sudden, extreme abdominal pain
- Any abdominal symptoms accompanied by shortness of breath
- Abdominal symptoms while pregnant or after an injury
- Mild but recurring pain
- Extreme tenderness to a specific abdominal area
- Vomiting, fever, and diarrhea that lasts several days
- Loss of appetite with unwanted weight loss
How Will My Doctor Diagnose My Abdominal Pain?Your doctor will begin your exam by asking you a series of specific questions about the type of pain you have including the duration and placement. Other questions include if the pain recurs, if you can find relief in different body positions, and targeted questions based on your health history. You’ll undergo a thorough physical exam where your doctor may touch or push on the affected area to gauge the severity of the pain. Your doctor may suggest the following tests to aid in a diagnosis:
- CT scans
- Upper GI
- Stool testing
- Blood testing