abdominal pain

Abdominal pain

What is Abdominal pain?

    Abdominal pain refers to discomfort experienced between the chest and pelvic areas. It can vary in nature, ranging from crampy and achy to dull, intermittent, or sharp, often termed a stomach ache.

    Localized pain is confined to a specific abdomen region and is frequently linked to issues in a particular organ. Stomach ulcers, characterized by open sores on the stomach's inner lining, are a common cause of localized pain.

    Cramp-like pain may coincide with symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, or flatulence. In individuals assigned female at birth, it might be linked to menstruation, miscarriage, or reproductive complications. Such pain tends to come and go, sometimes resolving without intervention.

    Significant abdominal pain can also result from viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections affecting the stomach and intestines.

What are different types of abdominal pain?

    Abdominal pain can manifest in various forms, categorized by its onset and duration:

    1. Acute pain: This type of pain develops rapidly over a few hours or days and may be accompanied by additional symptoms.

    2. Chronic pain: Chronic pain may exhibit intermittent episodes lasting for an extended period, from weeks to months or longer.

    3. Progressive pain: This pain intensifies gradually over time and is often accompanied by other symptoms.

What causes of abdominal pain?

    Abdominal pain can stem from various underlying conditions, with the primary causes including:

    1. Infection

    2. Abnormal growths

    3. Inflammation

    4. Obstruction (blockage)

    5. Intestinal disorders

    6. Diseases affecting abdominal organs

    Infections in areas like the throat, intestines, and bloodstream can introduce bacteria into the digestive tract, leading to abdominal discomfort and alterations in digestion, such as diarrhoea or constipation. Menstrual cramps can also contribute to lower abdominal pain, although they are typically associated with pelvic discomfort.

    Common culprits of abdominal pain encompass issues like constipation, diarrhoea, gastroenteritis (commonly known as stomach flu), acid reflux (resulting in heartburn), vomiting, and stress. Chronic abdominal pain can arise from conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and lactose intolerance.

    Severe abdominal pain may signify critical conditions like organ rupture (e.g., appendicitis), gallbladder or kidney stones, or kidney infections. The localization of pain within the abdomen can provide valuable clues regarding its origin:

  • Generalized pain throughout the abdomen could indicate appendicitis, Crohn’s disease, or traumatic injury.
  • Lower abdominal pain may point to conditions like appendicitis, intestinal obstruction, or ectopic pregnancy.
  • Pain in the reproductive organs, particularly in individuals assigned females at birth, could result from menstrual pain, ovarian cysts, or pelvic inflammatory diseases.
  • Upper abdominal pain may be linked to issues such as gallstones, heart attacks, or hepatitis.
  • Pain centralized in the abdomen might be attributed to conditions like appendicitis or gastroenteritis.
  • Lower left abdominal pain could indicate Crohn’s disease, cancer, or ovarian cysts.
  • Upper left abdominal pain might result from an enlarged spleen, faecal impaction, or kidney infection.
  • Lower right abdominal pain may signify appendicitis, hernia, or kidney infection.
  • Upper right abdominal pain could be caused by hepatitis, pneumonia, or appendicitis.

    Seeking medical attention is crucial for accurate diagnosis and timely abdominal pain treatment, mainly if severe or persistent abdominal pain occurs.

When to see a doctor

    If you're experiencing prolonged or concerning abdominal pain, it's essential to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider promptly.

    While awaiting your appointment, you can take steps to alleviate discomfort. Consider adopting measures such as consuming smaller meals if indigestion accompanies your pain and ensuring adequate hydration. Refrain from using over-the-counter pain relievers or laxatives unless expressly advised by your healthcare provider. These actions can help manage the symptoms of abdominal pain until further evaluation and guidance from your healthcare professional.

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