Abdominal pain can range from minor to serious and may start with the same symptoms. It is pain you feel anywhere between your chest and groin and often referred to as stomach region or belly.
What is Abdominal Pain?
Abdominal pain most of the time is not serious, however there are also life-threatening conditions such as colon cancer or early appendicitis. The severity of your pain, its location and other symptoms can help determine what is causing the pain when describing to your doctor.
• Generalized pain: This means that you feel it in more than half of your belly. This type of pain 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.
• Localized pain: This is pain found in only one area of your belly. It is more likely to be a sign of a problem in an organ, such as the appendix, gallbladder, or stomach.
• Cramping: This type of pain is not serious most of the time. It is likely to be due to gas and bloating, and is often followed by diarrhea. More worrisome signs include pain that occurs more often, lasts than 24 hours, or occurs with a fever.
• Colicky pain: This type of pain comes in waves. It very often starts and ends suddenly, and is often severe. Kidney stones and gallstones are common causes of this type of belly pain.
What are the causes of abdominal pain?
There are occasions where severe pain that comes on suddenly may be a result of a rupture of the stomach or intestine, blood vessel, ovary, testicle, kidney stone, gallbladder disease or aortic aneurysm. Pain caused by appendicitis or gallbladder disease may increase when moving or coughing.
Less serious causes of abdominal pain include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Food allergies or intolerance (such as lactose intolerance)
- Food poisoning
- Stomach flu
Other possible causes include:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (bulging and weakening of the major artery in the body)
- Bowel blockage or obstruction
- Cancer of the stomach, colon (large bowel), and other organs
- Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) with or without gallstones
- Decreased blood supply to the intestines (ischemic bowel)
- Diverticulitis (inflammation and infection of the colon)
- Heartburn, indigestion, or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
- Kidney stones
- Pancreatitis (swelling or infection of the pancreas)
Sometimes, abdominal pain may occur due to a problem somewhere else in your body, such as your chest or pelvic area. For example, you may have abdominal pain if you have:
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Muscle strain
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Tubal (ectopic) pregnancy
- Urinary tract infections
If you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment, please do not hesitate to call the office at (706) 548-0058. Remember that we usually require that you see a primary care physician (your family doctor or PCP) before we can schedule you. If you are having a medical emergency, get medical attention immediately at your nearest healthcare provider:
Athens Regional Medical Center: (706) 475-7000
St. Mary's Hospital: (706) 354-3000
This informational material is taken from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources.
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