Abdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. This is often referred to as the stomach region or belly.
The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.
Almost everyone has pain in the abdomen at one time or another. Most of the time, it is not caused by a serious medical problem.
How bad your pain is does not always reflect the seriousness of the condition causing the pain.
For example, you might feel severe abdominal pain if you have gas or stomach cramps due to a viral gastroenteritis.
Sometimes, life-threatening conditions such as colon cancer or early appendicitis may only cause mild pain or no pain.
Other ways of describing pain in your abdomen include:
Pain may be generalized, meaning that you feel it in more than half of your belly. This is more typical for a stomach virus, indigestion, or gas. If the pain becomes more severe, it may be caused by a blockage of the intestines.
Pain that is localized is found in only one area of your belly. This type of pain is more likely to be a sign of a problem in an organ, such as the appendix, gallbladder, or stomach.
Cramp-like pain is usually not serious, and is more likely to be due to gas and bloating. It is often followed by diarrhea. More worrisome signs include pain that occurs more often, lasts than 24 hours, or occurs with a fever.
Many different conditions can cause abdominal pain. The key is to know when you need to get immediate medical care. Sometimes you may only need to call a doctor if your symptoms continue.
Less serious causes of abdominal pain include:
Other possible causes include:
Sometimes, abdominal pain may be due from a problem somewhere else in your body, such as your chest or pelvic area. For example, you may have abdominal pain if you have:
If you have mild abdominal pain, the following tips might be helpful:
Sip water or other clear fluids.
Avoid solid food for the first few hours.
If you have been vomiting, wait 6 hours, and then eat small amounts of mild foods such as rice, applesauce, or crackers. Avoid dairy products.
If the pain is high up in your abdomen and occurs after meals, antacids may help, especially if you feel heartburn or indigestion. Avoid citrus, high-fat foods, fried or greasy foods, tomato products, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages.
Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medications, and narcotic pain medications unless your health care provider prescribes them. If you know that your pain is not related to your liver, you can try acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Seek immediate medical help or call your local emergency number if you:
Call your doctor if you have:
Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. Your specific symptoms, the location of pain and when it occurs will help your health care provider diagnosis the cause.
You may be asked the following questions:
Tests that may be done include:
The following steps may help prevent some types of abdominal pain:
Stomach pain; Pain - abdomen; Belly ache; Abdominal cramps; Bellyache; Stomachache
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