Urgent Advice: Speak To Your Gp As Soon As Possible If:
- you have severe abdominal pain, especially if it’s concentrated in one area
- the pain starts suddenly or unexpectedly
If your GP is closed, phone 111.
Serious causes of sudden severe abdominal pain include:
- appendicitis the swelling of the appendix means your appendix will need to be removed
- a bleeding or perforated stomach ulcer
- acute cholecystitis inflammation of the gallbladder, which may need to be removed
- kidney stones small stones may be passed out in your urine, but larger stones may block the kidney tubes, and you’ll need to go to hospital to have them broken up
- diverticulitis inflammation of the small pouches in the bowel that sometimes requires treatment with antibiotics in hospital
If your GP suspects you have one of these conditions, they may refer you to hospital immediately.
Sudden and severe pain in your abdomen can also sometimes be caused by an infection of the stomach and bowel . It may also be caused by a pulled muscle in your abdomen or by an injury.
How Is The Cause Of Abdominal Pain Diagnosed
The cause of abdominal pain can be diagnosed through a series of tests. Before ordering tests, your doctor will do a physical examination. This includes gently pressing on various areas of your abdomen to check for tenderness and swelling.
This information, combined with the severity of the pain and its location within the abdomen, will help your doctor determine which tests to order.
Imaging tests, such as MRI scans, ultrasounds, and X-rays, are used to view organs, tissues, and other structures in the abdomen in detail. These tests can help diagnose tumors, fractures, ruptures, and inflammation.
Other tests include:
Blood, urine, and stool samples may also be collected to look for evidence of bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections.
Not all forms of abdominal pain are preventable. However, you can minimize the risk of developing abdominal pain by doing the following:
- Eat a healthy diet.
Why Does My Stomach Hurt After I Eat
Your stomach may hurt after you eat if you haven’t eaten in a long time, if you’ve eaten a particularly large meal, or if you have an ulcer, tumor, or other mass that is not protected from stomach acid by mucus within the stomach. Stomach pain after eating is most commonly caused by the normal contractions/motions of the stomach as it churns and breaks down food with stomach acid. If you have damage to the stomach or a mass of some sort, these motions can aggravate that point of tenderness causing additional stomach pain. Gas is also a common cause of stomach pain after eating. An antacid or fizzy drink may help you belch, releasing the gas and discomfort.
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Stomach Cramps With Bloating
Stomach cramps with bloating are often caused by trapped wind, or constipation. This is a very common problem that can be embarrassing, but is easily dealt with. Your pharmacist will be able to recommend a product, which can be bought over the counter to treat the problem. If problems persist, you should see your GP.
Eat Plenty Of Fruit And Vegetables
It is recommended that we eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit or vegetables each day. If you eat a lot of fruit and vegetables then your chances of developing heart disease, a stroke or bowel cancer are reduced. In addition, fruit and vegetables:
- Contain lots of fibre, which helps to keep your bowels healthy. Problems such as constipation and diverticular disease are less likely to develop.
- Contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, which are needed to keep you healthy.
- Are naturally low in fat.
- Are filling but are low in calories.
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When Stomach Pain Is An Emergency
Stomach pain can be caused by a life-threatening condition, such as appendicitis, bowel obstruction , or a bowel perforation .
These emergencies usually cause very noticeable and often intolerable signs and symptoms. Your stomach pain is probably a sign of an urgent medical problem if:
- You are pregnant
- Your pain started within a week of having abdominal surgery or a gastrointestinal procedure
- You have ever had a gastric bypass, a colostomy, or a bowel resection
- Your pain started shortly after you experienced severe abdominal trauma
- Your abdomen appears bruised or is rapidly expanding in size
Your stomach pain may be mild in the beginning, and then you may develop associated symptoms after a few hours. You should get help immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms along with your stomach pain:
- Abdomen is extremely hard
- Inability to have a bowel movement accompanied by vomiting
- Pain in neck, shoulder or between shoulder blades
- Vision changes
When To Go To The Er With Stomach Pain
You should seek immediate medical attention or go to the ER if you have:
- Constant or severe abdominal pain
- Pain associated with a high fever
- Changes in pain intensity or location, such as going from a dull ache to a sharp stab or starting in one area and radiating to another
- Pain accompanied by other serious or unusual symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or change in behavior
- Pain localized to one particular area
- Right lower quadrant could indicate appendicitis
- Right upper quadrant could indicate cholecystitis or a gallbladder infection
- Left lower quadrant could indicate diverticulitis or a colon infection
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Home Remedies To Ease Mild Pain In Middle Of The Stomach
There are home remedies that you can try to help ease middle stomach pain. However, if you are in severe pain in the mid-abdominal area, it is best to see a doctor, as severe abdominal pain is a sign of a condition that needs medical attention as soon as possible.
For mild upper-middle abdominal pain and connecting areas, the following tips may be able to help you out.
Why Does My Stomach Hurt
There are numerous reasons for abdominal pain. It can come from any of the organs in your belly gallbladder, pancreas, liver, stomach and intestines or the abdominal wall the outer shell of the body. Sometimes you feel the pain in your belly, but its actually coming from the chest, back or pelvis.
Abdominal wall pain is common and easy to miss as healthcare professionals may direct their attention to internal organs as a cause of the pain. Once the abdominal wall is considered as a suspect, it is generally easy to nail down this diagnosis. If a patient strains the ab wall muscles from exertion, he may tell his doctor that he has right sided stomach pain. Clearly, this pain is not caused by a diseased internal organ such as the gallbladder or the stomach.
Healthcare providers can often determine where pain is coming from by taking a detailed history from you. Depending upon the physicians style, you may be simply asked to relate your medical story in your own words as a narrative. Other physicians may prefer to ask a series of detailed questions. Others may utilize both techniques. This medical history is paramount, even more important than the physical examination. After the history and physical, certain diagnostic tests may be advised to make an accurate diagnosis.
What are the most common causes of abdominal pain?
What Causes Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain can be caused by many conditions. However, the main causes are infection, abnormal growths, inflammation, obstruction , and intestinal disorders.
Infections in the throat, intestines, and blood can cause bacteria to enter your digestive tract, resulting in abdominal pain. These infections may also cause changes in digestion, such as diarrhea or constipation.
Cramps associated with menstruation are also a potential source of lower abdominal pain, but these are more commonly known to cause pelvic pain.
Other common causes of abdominal pain include:
What Are The Potential Complications Of Abdominal Pain
Complications of abdominal pain depend on the underlying cause, but can range from missed school or work to malnutrition to life-threatening infections. Getting an accurate diagnosis and following your treatment plan will help you avoid complications. Over time, abdominal pain can lead to serious complications including:
- due to blood loss
- Dehydration due to loss of fluids
- Organ failure
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Other Causes Of Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain can also be caused by problems in body systems other than the digestive tract including:
- Abdominal trauma: Damage of the organs or blood vessels within the abdomen can result in , even if there is no sign of trauma from the outside. Always seek professional medical care after an accident or injury from blunt force or an explosion to rule out internal damage.
- Abdominal tumor or mass: Ranging from a simple cyst to cancer, an causing pain and other symptoms requires prompt medical attention to diagnose and treat the problem.
- : A condition in which the uterine lining grows abnormally outside the uterus. Symptoms include lower back and abdominal pain during and after your period, cramps, , and heavy bleeding. Medication can help relieve endometriosis symptoms surgery is necessary in some cases.
- Hernia: A painful is one sign of an . A hernia causing problems in the lower abdomen is usually an . A painful hernia may involve surgical repair.
- : Symptoms vary widely depending on the cause is usually severe and felt in the side of the abdomen and moves into the lower abdomen and groin. Treatment also depends on the cause.
- Medication side effect: Examples include anti-cancer drugs, , and sodium phosphate.
- Ovarian cyst: Although they dont often cause symptoms, ovarian cysts symptoms include lower abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, pain with bowel movements, and possible changes in menstruation. See a gynecologist for signs of ovarian cysts.
Liver And Gallbladder Issues
Pain in the upper right stomach that comes and goes could signal a problem with the gallbladder, such as gallstones.
Gallstones can block the ducts of the gallbladder, making digestion more difficult. This causes pain shortly after eating, especially after very fatty meals. People with gallstones may notice that the pain appears a few hours after eating, lasts for 46 hours, and then disappears.
Gallstones sometimes pass on their own. If they do not, they can block the biliary ducts, which can affect liver function. Untreated gallstones may also cause problems with the pancreas.
If a person experiences vomiting, pale stool, or a fever along with symptoms of gallstones, they should seek emergency medical treatment.
Otherwise, see a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan. Home treatment is not effective for gallstones.
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When To Make An Appointment To See Your Doctor
Schedule an appointment to see your doctor if:
- Your stomach pain doesnt go away within a couple of days.
- The pain comes back after going away.
- Symptoms like diarrhea dont go away within a couple of days.
- Youre urinating more or less often, and/or its painful.
- You have unintended weight loss.
Know your body, Dr. Kingsley says. If you start having pain that you have not had before and does not go away, you should contact your doctor to be evaluated further.
Bottom line: Trust your gut! Contact your doctor if youre concerned about lingering or unusual stomach pain.
National Health Service, Stomach Ache
National Health Service Inform, Stomach Ache and Abdominal Pain
U.S. National Library of Medicine, Abdominal Pain
Heart Attack Or Angina
Although heart attacks or angina can cause pressing heavy discomfort in your left chest, the symptoms can also be similar to heartburn. However, heart attack chest pain usually radiates to your left arm, neck, shoulder, and jaw.
Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that heart attack symptoms also cause abdominal pain. For example, many people report that before their heart attack they felt a pain like something heavy pressing on the middle of the upper abdomen.12
To keep your heart healthy, you should make positive lifestyle changes like getting physically active and eating healthily.
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Taking Care Of Yourself At Home
Most abdominal pain goes away without special treatment. Be guided by your doctor, but there are some things you can do to help ease the pain, including:
- Place a hot water bottle or heated wheat bag on your abdomen.
- Soak in a warm bath. Take care not to scald yourself.
- Drink plenty of clear fluids such as water.
- Reduce your intake of coffee, tea and alcohol as these can make the pain worse.
- When you are allowed to eat again, start with clear liquids, then progress to bland foods such as crackers, rice, bananas or toast. Your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Try over-the-counter antacids, to help reduce some types of pain.
- Take mild painkillers such as paracetamol. Please check the packet for the right dose. Avoid aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs unless advised to take them by a doctor. These drugs can make some types of abdominal pain worse.
Severe Acute Pain In The Lower Right Side Of The Abdomen
A sudden pain in the lower part of the abdomen may be a sign of appendicitis. It may also be accompanied by a fever. Pain often begins around the belly button area and becomes worse with time. Vomiting or constipation or diarrhea along with the pain also indicate it’s time to go to the emergency room. Physicians recommend seeing a doctor right away if the pain comes on suddenly over several hours or is persistent. Appendicitis often requires surgery. If left untreated, a ruptured appendix can be deadly.
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Sudden Stomach Cramps With Diarrhoea
If your stomach cramps have started recently and you also have diarrhoea, the cause may be a tummy bug . This means you have a viral or bacterial infection of the stomach and bowel. It should get better without treatment after a few days.
Gastroenteritis may be caused by:
- coming into close contact with someone who’s infected
- eating contaminated food
If you have repeated bouts of stomach cramps and diarrhoea, you may have a long-term condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome .
Dull Pain Right Side Abdomen
You need to analyze the pain. There are many organs that lie in the right side abdomen. These include the right sided colon, appendix, right ovary in females, liver, gall bladder, right kidney. The pain may be coming of any of them.
If the pain is severe, its recommended you visit a doctor urgently for diagnosis. It could be an inflamed organ lying in the right abdomen requiring immediate surgery.
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Sudden Pain Below Your Navel
Where: The pain may radiate to either side of your navel.
Possible causes: A colon disorder, a urinary tract infection or pelvic inflammatory disease
What to do: If pain continues to worsen, call your doctor, who may order diagnostic tests or advise you to go to the emergency department.
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Normal Variation Of Constipation
Constipation means bowel movements which have become infrequent and/or hardened and difficult to pass.
There is wide variation in what is thought “normal” when it comes to frequency of bowel movements. Anywhere from three times a day to three times a week is considered normal.
As long as stools are easy to pass, laxatives should not be used in an effort to force the body to a more frequent schedule.
Constipation is usually caused by lack of fiber in the diet not drinking enough water insufficient exercise and often suppressing the urge to have a bowel movement.
A number of medications and remedies, especially narcotic pain relievers, can cause constipation.
Women are often affected, due to pregnancy and other hormonal changes. Young children who demand low-fiber or “junk food” diets are also susceptible.
Constipation is a condition, not a disease, and most of the time is easily corrected. If simple adjustments in diet, exercise, and bowel habits don’t help, a doctor can be consulted to rule out a more serious cause.
Top Symptoms: abdominal pain , nausea, stomach bloating, constipation, constipation
Symptoms that always occur with normal variation of constipation: constipation
Symptoms that never occur with normal variation of constipation: vomiting
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What Causes Pain In The Lower Abdomen
Pain in the lower left abdomen and pain in the lower right abdomen can be caused by problems with the descending colon, rectum, or genitalia. To determine the cause of pain in the lower abdomen, it is important to recall what activities have occurred recently. Have you been constipated? Have you had trouble urinating? Have you been sick in any way recently? Have you eaten anything unusual or taken any prescribed or illicit drugs recently? Pain in the lower abdomen is commonly caused by stretching or tension placed on organs. Whether muscle contractions during an upset stomach, stretching of bowel from constipation, or an overfull bladder pressing on other organs, lower abdominal pain is commonly caused by stretching of an organ irritating a nerve. The other common cause of lower abdominal pain is inflammation which can occur in the setting of infection or, more rarely, malignancy.
What Causes Abdominal Pain In Children
Common causes of abdominal pain in children include:
- trapped wind
- lower urinary tract problems, such as cystitis
Most abdominal pain is mild and will go away without treatment after a few days. However, your child should see a doctor if the pain is severe or doesnt go away, especially when they also have other symptoms, such as a fever. In this case, you should ensure they are monitored closely and they may need further medical assessment.
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