Pain in the abdomen is common. However, it can sometimes be challenging to decide if you should visit a doctor, go to the emergency room or just wait in such cases. Needless to say, if the abdominal pain is unbearable and debilitating, don’t wait! Find medical assistance as soon as possible.
According to a report from the US National Library of Medicine, stomach pain is the most common cause of patients’ admissions to emergency rooms. When you or someone you love is experiencing abdominal pain, and you are unsure of what to do, call your doctor or nurse. This is the smartest way to decide your next step.
This blog will share some insights on common causes of abdominal pain, including those that need immediate medical assistance. But before that, let us understand what abdominal pain is, where it occurs, and how severe it can be.
Belly pain can be a result of even small problems such as indigestion and constipation. While it is not always something to be alarmed about, you should never take it lightly. The exact location of the pain can reveal a lot about its severity. However, small or big, all of such matters should be diagnosed by your gastroenterologist or a reputable pain doctor.
What Is The Location Of Abdominal Pain?
Let us first discuss where this pain exactly occurs. The fact is, several major organs including heart, large intestine, gallbladder and appendix are a part of your abdomen. When the pain radiates down from your lower chest, causing a heartburn sensation, it can be a red flag for a heart attack. If you or your loved one feels lightheadedness and shortness in breath along with the heartburn, get medical help immediately.
If your abdominal pain is concentrated on any side of your stomach, it may signal problems with specific organs. Do not overlook such kinds of discomfort, even if it is mild. Call your doctor and make an appointment. They can identify if the problem is with your gallbladder or appendix.
Understanding The Severity Of Your Abdominal Pain
Luckily, most abdominal pain cases are not severe. Even a small problem like an upset stomach can cause pain for a couple of hours until your body automatically gets rid of it. The burning or cramping in the stomach can be a result of gas and bloating. If you are suffering from diarrhea, it means that your body is trying to throw the toxins injected by you. Note that diarrhea can get severe if left untreated; thus, make sure you treat it before it causes any significant damage.
Abdominal pain linked with kidney stones occurs in waves, and it is severe. It is mostly intermittent. Even though kidney stone issues are not life-threatening, the pain related to them can be extremely debilitating. You should seek help from medical experts in such cases.
Issues such as indigestion or gas do not usually cause major problems. It hits when your digestive system is fighting with the infected food and then vanishes when the food is either digested or thrown out through the large intestine. If the gas problem is consistent and you are taking antacids daily, consult with your doctor as antacids are not favorable in the long run.
Major Causes of Severe Abdominal Pain
Some of these pain types fall under medical emergencies. Most of them need medical treatment from your doctor. Contact your doctor or seek medical help if you experience any of the following:
When pouches protrude outward from the colon and become inflamed or infected, the diverticular disease occurs. This process can be excruciating and medically known as diverticulitis.
Although this is not a medical emergency, our experts suggest visiting your doctor to get this treated as soon as possible. The following are the most common symptoms of this disease:
- Severe pain in the abdomen
An obstacle in the intestine can be a severe problem as it prevents the body from expelling the waste. While some obstacles partially block the intestine, some block them entirely. A complete blockage can be a life-threatening issue.
Medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, tumors, and hernias can cause blockages in the intestine.
What’s more, a condition called volvulus is the most hazardous cause of the blocked intestine. When the colon twists around itself, volvulus occurs. If left untreated, this can lead to tissue death or ruptured intestine.
If you notice one or more of the following signs, it may be the indication of intestine blockages:
- Racing heartbeats
- Bloody diarrhea
- Swelling in stomach
- Pain in the abdomen
- Cramps in stomach
There’s one more life-threatening infection called sepsis. It comes with some additional symptoms such as vomiting, fatigue, weakness, and high fever.
It can be challenging to identify the intestine blockages with the symptoms alone. But if you think that you have a blocked intestine, especially along with other issues like tumors or hernias, you must get admitted to the emergency room.
Issues With Pancreas, Liver, And Gallbladder
The pain right under the ribs is the indication of issues with gallbladder, pancreas, or liver. Problematic gallstones can be dangerous and need to be treated immediately. Otherwise, it can lead to blockage in the bile duct that causes functionality problems in the liver. This can infect the pancreas or rupture the gallbladder.
Problems with gallbladder cause severe pain in the upper right part of the abdomen. Vomiting also can be seen in some patients. Porcelain gallbladder is one such condition caused due to the development of calcium deposits in the gallbladder.
While this type of pain usually goes away after 4-6 hours, you should go to the emergency room if the pain comes with one or more of the following:
- Yellow skin or eyes
- Intense illness feeling
- Pale or white stool
- Extreme fever
Medical conditions like diarrhea and vomiting can take the fluids out in significant amounts and lead to dehydration. This problem is common in older adults and children. This is not so severe until the problem does not persist. Otherwise, you have to take the patient to the hospital for the intravenous fluids. Dehydration’s most common symptoms are dry mouth, rapid heart rate, no urination, dry skin, and chapped lips.
Ruptured And Bleeding Blood Vessels
Our abdomen contains many blood vessels. Even the largest blood vessel of the body, aorta, is in the abdomen. When the bulge in this vessel breaks, it causes a dangerous medical condition called a ruptured aortic aneurysm. If any blood vessel sustains a cut or puncture, it can cause death. Therefore, understanding the symptoms of a ruptured vessel is critical. The significant signs of this medical condition are:
- Sudden and severe pain in the abdomen
- Rapid heartbeats
- Shortness in breath
Patients with an existing abdominal aneurysm should never underestimate even mild pain in the abdomen. They must go to the emergency room immediately and let the doctor know about their aneurysm problem.
If you feel intense pain in the lower abdomen that goes till the middle part of your back, it is probably due to the kidney stone. Even though this issue is not life-threatening, the pain associated with this can be extremely severe. You have to seek medical assistance if the pain is unbearable. Some other symptoms of this condition are lightheadedness, dizziness and pain that radiates to the groin.
Infection In Appendix
This medical condition is commonly known as appendicitis. If you experience pain in the middle of your stomach that radiates to the right side, it’s probably due to appendicitis. If not treated on time, the appendix can rupture and lead to even severe problems.
This is not the only type of pain you may face. Sometimes, it can start with a dull pain sensation around the umbilical area and then worsen as it moves to the right part of the stomach.
Immediate medical treatment is suggested for appendix-related abdominal pain. In most of such cases, the doctors remove the appendix and prescribe the course of antibiotics.
Some Other Signs To Look For
Abdominal pain is indeed a tricky condition even for the doctors to diagnose. However, if you are going through such pain and it makes you think you should visit a doctor, see a doctor. Nothing can beat the right advice from a medical expert. With that being said, we will now discuss some other signs that may give you a hint of what is happening in your abdomen.
When You Have Intense Cramps In Your Lower Abdomen But Your Feel Better After You Poop
This is a vital sign of IBS — Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This disorder makes your gut more sensitive and changes the way your muscles contract. Ultimately, it leads to a myriad of issues such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, persistent stomach pain and more.
Reduced stomach cramps once the motion passes can be a sign of constipation. As even the IBS results in constipation (and some other problems), identifying its exact cause can be tricky. If you have not faced similar issues in the past, this is more likely to be normal constipation (which is still worth seeing a medical expert).
When The Pain Occurs Especially During Your Periods And Has Been Getting Worse With Time
Cramps are common (and irritating) during periods. If yours are incredibly severe, we hope that you have already visited your doctor. Here, if you notice that such cramps have got worse over the past few years, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with your doctor. If your cramps are worse than the last year ones (and even worse than the ones before that), it’s a sign of endometriosis. This condition occurs when the tissue that lines your uterus grows outside the uterus, probably on the other organs. This leads to intense pain and comes out in many ways such as stomach cramping during periods, pain while peeing, chronic pain in the pelvis and lower back, pain during sex, heavy bleeding, and more.
Note that endometriosis can affect differently from person to person. Some people may feel throbby or dull pain while some can go through severe crampings. It is always smart to get in touch with your doctor if you or someone you love is facing this condition.
Abdominal pain is common yet incredibly uncomfortable and irritating. In most of the cases, it points towards some minor medical issues. But if several other symptoms (discussed earlier) accompany it, that can be a red flag for more severe illness.
Symptoms alone cannot help to identify the reason for the stomach pain. Plus, the severity of the pain does not always correlate the intensity of the illness. For example, you may feel intense pain due to gases, but it goes away after a couple of hours without any significant damage.
It’s always wise to follow the preventive measures and visit your doctor for persistent abdominal pain.