Stomach Pain: When Is It Serious?
Most people will experience stomach pain at some point in their lives. You know the feeling: too much of a good thing on Thanksgiving, overindulging during a night out with friends, or unease caused by anxiety.
Although commonly called a stomachache, abdominal pain can arise from other areas or organs besides the stomach. Factors such as digestion, injury, infection, inflammation, or disease can cause it. Sometimes, the pain may stem from the muscles or lining of the abdominal wall.
Here’s everything you need to know about when a stomachache becomes something more serious.
Symptoms of Abdominal Pain
The severity, location, and duration of abdominal pain can vary depending on the underlying cause. Stomach pain is often described as:
Stomach pain may be localized in one spot, or discomfort may be felt throughout the abdomen. You may experience intermittent pain or have continuous discomfort. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation can also accompany abdominal pain.
Our bodies often cannot pinpoint an exact location of where the pain began. Because of this, a condition in various areas of the abdomen can cause a feeling of stomach discomfort. Seeking care from a gastroenterologist is a great starting point. If they determine your pain is caused by a urologic or gynecologic problem, they can help you find a specialist in that area.
Gastrointestinal Causes of Stomach Pain
Various gastrointestinal factors can cause stomach pain since the abdomen houses many digestive organs such as the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small intestine, and large intestine. All of these organs can be a potential source of pain for different reasons, including:
Other Causes of Stomach Pain
If there is a problem in the urologic system, it can cause pain and discomfort in the abdomen. The urological system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Abdominal pain can occur due to:
- Kidney stones
- Kidney infection
- Urinary tract infections
For women, there can be gynecological causes of abdominal pain related to their reproductive tract. Some causes of abdominal pain for women include:
- Menstrual cramps
- Ovarian cysts
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Ectopic pregnancy
Various illnesses, including some conditions unrelated to the gastrointestinal, genitourinary, or gynecological systems, can bring on abdominal pain. Causes of stomach pain also include:
- Trauma or injury
- Abdominal wall pain
- Stress or anxiety
When Is Stomach Pain Serious?
Because abdominal pain can result from so many conditions, it can be difficult to know when to seek medical attention. In some cases, abdominal pain can be mild and self-resolving, but severe cases require immediate medical attention.
It’s critical to consult your doctor if you experience abdominal pain that is unexplained, chronic, worsening, or severe. Additionally, you should seek medical attention if you have other symptoms such as:
- Fever and chills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blood in your stool, urine, or vomit
- Signs of dehydration, such as dizziness, dry mouth, or decreased urine
- Abdominal swelling
- An abdomen that is sensitive to touch
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin
- Pain in other parts of your body
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain with a recent history of surgery
How Is Stomach Pain Diagnosed?
To identify the root cause of your pain, your doctor may perform a physical examination, review your medical history, and suggest diagnostic tests like blood work, imaging studies, or endoscopy.
It is crucial to seek medical help if you encounter abdominal pain that is severe or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms. Avoid delaying treatment, as this could result in complications or a deterioration of your overall health.
Say Goodbye to Stomach Pain
Even though abdominal pain can indicate a minor and temporary ailment, it may also signify a more severe condition. It’s always better to be cautious and seek medical attention if you’re uncertain about your symptoms. An appointment with a gastroenterologist is often the best place to begin for stomach or abdominal pain.
Even if your stomach pain is only mild, you should make an appointment with your doctor if your discomfort persists, returns, or gets worse.
Don’t continue to live with unexplained stomach pain – schedule an appointment today!