Abdominal Pain

Abdominal Pain Q & A

What causes abdominal pain?

Abdominal pain can occur for a variety of reasons and can also be a sign of a number of digestive conditions or gastrointestinal problems. Most stomachaches aren’t cause for concern and can pass without medical intervention, especially when caused by:

  • Food poisoning
  • Allergies
  • Gas
  • Indigestion or acid reflux
  • A pulled or strained muscle
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • A stomach virus
  • Menstrual cramps

However, abdominal pain that is especially severe, chronic, or gets progressively worse can be a sign of a more serious problem, including:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis (UC)
  • Celiac disease
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Hernia
  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones
  • Endometriosis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Appendicitis

In addition to these common problems, inflammation or injury in any of your major organs often causes abdominal pain, as can many forms of cancer. If you’re experiencing long-term or severe abdominal pain, it’s very important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.

When should I see a doctor about my abdominal pain?

While mild and isolated incidents of abdominal are a normal part of life, you should seek medical help from a physician at LGS if you experience:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting, especially if you’re unable to keep any food down
  • Dehydration
  • An inability to make a bowel movement
  • Painful urination
  • Constant urination
  • Tenderness or swelling in your abdomen
  • Blood in vomit or stool
  • Black or tar-like stool
  • Yellowing skin

If your abdominal pain is accompanied by chest pain or any numbness, or if it follows an accident, fall, or another injury, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately as these symptoms could be signs of a heart attack or internal bleeding, respectively. If you’re pregnant, you should also seek immediate attention if you experience any serious or long-lasting abdominal pain.

How is abdominal pain diagnosed?

Because there are so many possible causes, a diagnosis of abdominal pain can require several tests, though these are usually minor. Generally, this starts with a simple physical exam and in some cases a stool, urine, or blood test. If necessary, a physician may ask you to come in for a further procedure to diagnose your pain, like a colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, X-ray, or ultrasound.