At some point in your life, you will probably experience abdominal pain. Most causes of this type of pain are not serious and can be diagnosed and treated without concern. It’s important to know when your abdominal pain is a symptom of more serious illness and when to see your doctor.
Common Causes of Abdominal Pain
There’s a long list of common causes of abdominal pain that are usually nothing to be concerned about. Pain from these causes can typically be treated with over-the-counter medicines, change in diet, or rest. The most common causes of abdominal pain include:
* Stomach virus
* Irritable bowel syndrome
* Lactose intolerance
* Food allergies
* Stomach cramps
* Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
When Should You Be Concerned?
If your abdominal pain is severe, recurring, or accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. These symptoms may be an indication of an internal problem.
* Pain that lasts for more than several hours
* Vomiting and the inability to keep food down for two days or more
* Vomiting and the inability to have a bowel movement
* Painful or very frequent urination
* Your abdomen is tender to the touch
* The pain is from an injury to your abdomen
* Signs of dehydration
If you vomit blood, have black or bloody stools, difficulty breathing, or abdominal pain during pregnancy, you should seek immediate medical attention right away.
Diagnosing Your Pain
Diagnosing abdominal pain can be difficult since there are so many potential causes. Pain can range from mild to severe and last for a few hours or a few days. Mild pain is uncomfortable, but severe pain can disrupt your daily routine, so it’s best to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor will want to do a physical exam that may include urine and stool tests, blood tests, enemas, and an endoscopy. During the exam, your doctor will also ask you questions about your symptoms, and possibly schedule x-rays with digital x-ray imaging to see what’s going on in your abdomen.
The treatment for your abdominal pain will depend on the cause. Treatments can range from changes in diet for pain caused by certain foods or beverages to medications for inflammation and infection, ulcers or GERD. If your abdominal pain is caused by a hernia or appendicitis, your doctor may recommend surgery.