Stomach pain; Pain - abdomen; Belly ache; Abdominal cramps; Bellyache; Stomachache
Abdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. This is often referred to as the stomach region or belly.
You know that awful feeling: you’re nauseous; your stomach feels like it’s tied in a knot, and you don’t even want to move. What does your pain mean? Well, let’s talk today about abdominal pain. So, what causes abdominal pain? Almost everyone has pain in their belly at one time or another. Most of the time, a serious medical problem is not the cause, and how bad your pain is doesn’t always reflect the seriousness of the problem causing your pain. You may feel very bad pain if you are having gas or stomach cramps due to viral gastroenteritis, better known as a stomach virus. And some life-threatening conditions, such as colon cancer or a very early case of appendicitis, may cause only mild pain, or no pain at all. The important thing to know about abdominal pain is when you need immediate medical care. Less serious causes of abdominal pain include constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, lactose intolerance, food poisoning, and a stomach virus. Other, more serious, causes include appendicitis, an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a bowel blockage, cancer, and gastroesophageal reflux. Sometimes, you may have abdominal pain from a problem that isn’t in your belly, like a heart attack, menstrual cramps, or pneumonia. So, what do you do about abdominal pain? Well, if you have mild abdominal pain, here are some helpful tips: Try sipping water or other clear fluids. Avoid solid food for the first few hours. If you’ve been vomiting, wait 6 hours and then eat small amounts of mild foods like rice, applesauce, or crackers. If your pain is high in your abdomen and occurs after meals, antacids may help, especially if you are feeling heartburn or indigestion. You should seek medical attention if you have abdominal pain and are being treated for cancer, you can’t pass any stool, you’re vomiting blood, or you have chest, neck, or shoulder pain. Call your doctor if you have abdominal pain that lasts 1 week or longer, if your pain doesn’t improve in 24 - 48 hours, if bloating lasts more than 2 days, or if you have diarrhea for more than 5 days.
Almost everyone has pain in the abdomen at some point. Most of the time, it is not serious.
How bad your pain is does not always reflect the seriousness of the condition causing the pain.
For example, you might have very bad abdominal pain if you have gas or stomach cramps due to viral gastroenteritis.
However, life-threatening conditions, such as colon cancer or early appendicitis, may only cause mild pain or no pain.
Other ways to describe pain in your abdomen include:
Many different conditions can cause abdominal pain. The key is to know when you need to get medical care right away. Sometimes you may only need to call a health care provider if your symptoms continue.
Less serious causes of abdominal pain include:
Other possible causes include:
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:
You can try the following home care steps to ease mild abdominal pain:
These additional steps may help prevent some types of abdominal pain:
Get medical help right away or call your local emergency number (such as 911) if you:
Call your provider if you have:
Your provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and medical history. Your specific symptoms, the location of pain and when it occurs will help your health care provider diagnosis the cause.
LOCATION OF YOUR PAIN
TYPE AND INTESITY OF YOUR PAIN
HISTORY OF YOUR PAIN
OTHER MEDICAL HISTORY
Tests that may be done include:
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Last reviewed on: 1/28/2016
Reviewed by: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist at Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.