Many of us may have experienced abdominal pain. Pain in abdomen has many causes and may feel like an ache, coming from another organ or from digestive system.
It’s the pain that is felt anywhere between chest and groin.
Pain maybe felt due to gas or stomach cramps due to viral gastroenteritis, fatal conditions like colon cancer or early appendicitis may also cause mild pain.
Its important to seek medical attention if the abdominal pain is unexplained, persistent or severe.
Patient may experience different types of pain, like
1. Generalized pain - This type of pain is due to indigestion or gas and if it becomes more severe, it may be due to the blockage of the intestines.
2. Localized pain - This is pain found in only one area of the stomach. It is more likely to be a sign of a problem in an organ, such as the appendix, gallbladder or stomach.
3. Cramp-like pain - This type of pain is not very serious and most likely due to gas and bloating.
4. Colicky pain - This type of pain comes in waves. It very often starts and ends suddenly, and is often severe and it maybe due to kidney stones and gallstones.
There are many different conditions which can cause abdominal pain, like:
3. Abdominal Infections – maybe due to bacterial or viral.
4. Menstrual Cramps – few women may experience the pain.
Some other relatively common causes of abdominal pain are:
1. Gall stones or gall bladder swelling
2. Inflammation of liver known as hepatitis, pancreatitis and sometimes kidney stones or kidney infection may cause abdominal pain.
Other possible causes include:
2. Bowel blockage or obstruction
3. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
4. Decreased blood supply to the intestines (ischemic bowel)
5. Diverticulitis (inflammation and infection of the colon)
6. Heartburn, indigestion, or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
7. Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn disease )
8. In rare cases, Ectopic pregnancy.
Some cancers can also cause pain like:
Stomach cancer, liver cancer, gall bladder cancer and pancreatic cancer.
In rare cases ovarian cysts, ovarian cancer and abdominal muscle pull can be one of the reason for abdominal pain.
When patient experiences the following conditions along with abdominal pain they have to urgently seek medical advice
2. Severe nausea
4. Burning sensation in urine
5. Increased urine frequency
6. Dark coloured urine
Some additional warning symptoms may be observed like bloody vomit, bloody stools, black stools, excessive weight loss and in rare cases difficulty in breathing may lead to presentation of heart attack kind of condition due to abdominal pain.
The cause of abdominal pain is diagnosed based on the symptoms, history and physical examination done by doctor.
The treating doctor may ask certain questions about the characteristics of the pain and depending on that may advise investigations to be done.
Tests are categorised in two types routine tests and special tests.
Routine tests include CBC, CREATININE, LFT, ELECTROLYTES, URINE ROUTINE, STOOL TEST, sometimes Abdominal x-ray. Commonly sonography of abdomen is done.
Special tests include CT SCAN, wherein detailed evaluation of the abdomen is done. Other important test is UPPER GI ENDOSCOPY wherein a food scope is inserted through mouth to evaluate the food pipe and the stomach region.
The other test is COLONOSCOPY wherein detailed evaluation of the intestine is done.
The treatment for abdominal pain depends on its cause.
If the person is suffering from acidity, doctor may prescribe some medicines or antacids to get relief from abdominal pain.
But if the pain is persistent, severe and if surgical intervention is required, the patient may be asked or suggested to do so.
The best course of treatment may involve self-care measures. Mild abdominal pain due to digestive upset may be treated by following simple steps
Avoiding spicy, oily and heavy meals.
Instead of two heavy meals, small frequent meals can be taken.
The food should be consumed fresh and while eating it should be chewed properly.
Avoid sleeping immediately after consuming food.
Sipping water or clear fluids at regular intervals.
Taking enough rest.
Regular exercise helps in avoiding gastritis.
Additional precautions to be taken are:
1. Avoiding or limiting alcohol intake and reducing the use of tobacco.
2. Caffeinated drinks to be kept in minimal
3. Managing stress
4. Avoiding foods causing stomach upset or having allergy towards it.
Any abdominal pain taking too long to settle down / or if the pain doesn’t subside should not be neglected and the treating doctor should be immediately contacted for further treatment.
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