Abdominal pain is any discomfort or pain that occurs within the chest and pelvic regions. Abdominal pain comes in 5 different forms: Crampy, Achy, Dull, Intermittent or Sharp. It’s is commonly known as a stomachache.
Causes of abdominal pain might be inflammation or diseases that affect organs in the abdomen. Major organs located in the abdominal area include:
Infections that affect the stomach and intestines may be viral, bacterial, or parasitic and may cause significant abdominal pain.
A lot of conditions are responsible for abdominal pain. However, the main causes include infections, abnormal growths, inflammation, obstruction or blockage and intestinal disorders.
Bacteria can gain access to the digestive tracts through infections in the throat, intestines, and blood, which causes significant pain in the abdomen. These infections may also trigger digestive disorders such as diarrhoea and constipation.
Another potential source of pain in the lower abdominal region is cramps associated with menstruation. Still, those are mainly known to be the cause of pelvic pain.
Pain in the abdominal region can sometimes be localized, cramp-like or colicky.
Localized abdominal pain is characterized when the pain is restricted to one area of the abdomen, often caused by problems in a particular organ. The most common localized abdominal pain source is stomach ulcers (open sores located in the stomach's inner lining).
Cramp-like pain can be associated with diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, or gas accumulation in the alimentary canal. It is commonly associated with menstruation, miscarriage, or complications in the female reproductive organs in females. This kind of pain isn't permanent, it comes and goes, and it sometimes completely subsides without treatment.
Colicky abdominal pain is a symptom of a more severe medical condition such as gallstones or kidney stones. This pain is abrupt and may feel like a severe muscle spasm.
Causes of abdominal pain might sometimes be diagnosed according to the location of the pain within the abdomen.
A generalized pain throughout the abdomen (not in one specific area) may be a symptom of:
A mild form of abdominal pain may subside without treatment. However, in some cases, abdominal pain may require medical consultation.
Call the emergency number if your abdominal pain is severe or associated with an accident or injury or when you feel pressure or pain in your chest.
Seek immediate medical care if the pain gets so severe that you cannot sit still or when you need to curl into a ball to relieve the pain. You need to seek urgent medical attention if you show any of the following symptoms:
Contact your doctor if you experience abdominal pain while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Diagnosis of the cause of abdominal pain can be made through series of tests usually carried out after the doctor performs a physical examination which includes gently pressing down on different areas of the abdomen to check for tenderness and swelling.
The result of this physical examination, combined with the severity of the pain and its location within the abdomen, will help your doctor conclude on which tests to be carried out.
Imaging tests like MRI scans, ultrasounds, and X-rays can get a detailed view of organs, tissues, and other structures in the abdomen. These tests help in the diagnosis of tumours, fractures, ruptures, and inflammation.
Other tests include:
Evidence of bacterial, viral and parasitic infections can be gotten from blood, urine, and stool samples.
Some of the forms of abdominal pain cannot be prevented, but you can minimize the risk of developing abdominal pain by doing the following:
For intestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease, follow the diet your doctor prescribes for you to minimize discomfort. If you have GERD, don’t eat within a few hours before you go to sleep.
Heartburns and abdominal pain may also be triggered if you lie down too soon after eating a meal, wait at least two hours after eating before lying down.