Facing Frequent Abdominal Pain: Know the Causes & Treatments
The stomach is a hollow, muscular organ in your gastrointestinal tract. It is situated between the small intestine and the oesophagus. The stomach secretes gastric acid and digestive enzymes to aid in food digestion.
Abdominal pain is pain that occurs between the pelvic regions and the chest. It can be sharp, intermittent, dull, achy or crampy. Parasitic, bacterial or viral infections that affect the intestines and stomach might also cause significant abdominal pain.
Consult your healthcare provider if the discomfort is persistent or getting worse. Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience significant acute stomach pain so that you can determine the cause and start the appropriate treatment.
What is Abdominal Pain?
Any discomfort in the area of your abdomen between your ribs and pelvis is considered abdominal pain. Although stomach discomfort is commonly associated with the stomach, other organs might also be causing abdominal pain.
Your abdomen is home to your:
- Large intestine.
- Small intestine.
All of these are digestive system organs. However, the muscles and skin that make up your abdomen’s exterior might also hurt. This is known as your abdominal wall. Additionally, the discomfort you experience in your abdomen might occasionally originate from your back, pelvis, or chest.
There are several shapes and meanings that abdominal discomfort may have.
It may feel:
- Generalised (all over) or localised (in one spot)
- Constant or intermittent.
- Crampy or colicky.
- Burning or achy.
- Dull or sharp.
- Mild or severe.
In the end, stomach discomfort is a personal experience that you are the only one who can explain. Since your healthcare provider cannot quantify it, it is what you say it is. Your doctor will always treat your stomach discomfort carefully.
What are the Causes of Abdominal Pain?
There are several causes or reasons for discomfort in the abdomen. It might have anything to do with illness, injury, infection, or digestion. It might originate from an internal organ or the skin or muscles of your abdominal wall. Or it may have spread from a neighbouring location.
To find the source of your discomfort, your healthcare expert will probe you in-depth about your symptoms. The intensity of the feeling does not always translate into seriousness. Certain common, transitory diseases can feel overwhelming, while certain serious, life-threatening disorders might feel mild.
Abdominal discomfort often has transient, non-serious causes. These could be related to the menstrual cycle, digestion, or a transient illness. For example:
Following a meal, abdominal discomfort might result from:
- Food poisoning.
- Food allergies and intolerances.
- Gas and gas pain.
Temporary inflammation can result from irritation or infection in your organs, including:
- Urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Chronic acid reflux (GERD).
- Peptic ulcer disease.
- Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu).
Female Reproductive Cycle
If you have a uterus, the following conditions may cause you occasional pain:
- Ovulation pain.
- Menstrual cramps.
Abdominal discomfort can occasionally be a sign of a significant medical issue that needs to be treated. various locations of pain may suggest the involvement of various organs. For example:
Right Upper Quadrant
Your liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts are located in your upper right abdomen. The right kidney is located at the rear. Your small and big intestines’ first segments also pass through.
Most likely, gallbladder or liver illness is the cause of upper right abdomen discomfort. Examples of such diseases include:
- Liver cancer.
- Gallbladder cancer.
- Bile duct cancer, stones and strictures.
- Cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation).
- Hepatitis (alcoholic, toxic, metabolic, viral or autoimmune).
It could also be a localised problem in your duodenum, ascending colon or right kidney, such as a:
- Large bowel obstruction.
- Duodenal ulcer.
- Kidney stone.
- Kidney infection.
Left Upper Quadrant
Your stomach, pancreas, and spleen are located in your upper left abdomen. Your heart and left lung lie directly above your left kidney, which is located at the rear of your abdominal cavity.
Upper left abdominal pain could mean:
- Kidney stone.
- Kidney infection.
- Stomach cancer.
- Bile reflux.
- Stomach ulcer.
- Splenomegaly (enlarged spleen).
- Pancreatic cancer.
- Pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas).
If your chest is the source of the pain, it can originate from:
- Pulmonary embolism.
- Heart attack.
- Noncardiac chest pain.
The majority of your small and large intestines are located in your lower belly. Gastrointestinal disorders are most often the cause of lower abdomen discomfort. It could also have anything to do with your uterus, ovaries, or ureters.
Abdominal causes include:
- Kidney stones.
- Intestinal (mesenteric) ischemic syndrome.
- Mesenteric lymphadenitis.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm.
- Colon cancer.
- Small intestine cancer.
- Large or small bowel obstruction.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis).
- Functional dyspepsia.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
Pelvic organ pain may result from one of the following:
- Uterine cancer.
- Ovarian cancer.
- Ectopic pregnancy.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Ovarian cysts.
Left Lower Quadrant
The most common causes of pain in the lower left abdomen are colon diverticulitis and diverticulosis. Although they can appear anywhere in your colon, diverticula—small outpouchings in the gut wall—usually start in the lower left section.
Right Lower Quadrant
Your appendix might be the source of your lower right abdominal pain. Appendicitis, or inflammation, maybe the cause, or, less frequently, appendix cancer.
Other, general causes of stomach pain include:
- Abdominal muscle strain.
- Traumatic injuries.
- Abdominal bloating.
- Visceral hypersensitivity.
- Stress (psychosomatic pain).
What is the Treatment for Abdominal Pain?
Numerous factors can cause and cure abdominal discomfort. Surgery may be necessary for some illnesses, such as appendicitis or gallstones. Drugs may provide relief for other conditions including infections or ulcers. And occasionally, you might just need to endure a kidney stone or stomach flu episode until it reduces or goes away.
It’s critical to identify the cause of your stomach discomfort if you don’t already know it, particularly if it persists. Recall that situations can get dangerous even in mild cases. But if you believe with some certainty that your stomach discomfort is caused by digestion, you might start by taking:
- Home remedies – For gas, try liquorice; for indigestion, try ginger; and for relaxing the muscles in your intestines, try peppermint.
- Heat therapy – Try taking a bath or using a bottle of warm water.
- Hydration – Go for a hydration formula or lots of water.
- Bowel rest – Give up eating, or limit your intake to simple carbs like crackers or bananas.
Pain that is felt between the chest and pelvic areas is referred to as abdominal pain. It may feel crampy, achy, dull, acute, or sporadic. If the pain doesn’t go away or keeps getting worse, then it is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced gastroenterologist. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition.
At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult a gastroenterologist, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment with Dr. Anukalp Prakash at the CK Birla Hospital. (Booking Link).
How Long Can Abdominal Pain Last?
Acute stomach discomfort often appears and stops in a few hours to several days. Chronic abdominal discomfort may come and go. Pain of this kind might last for several weeks, months, or even years. Certain long-term illnesses result in progressive pain, which progressively worsens over time.
How Can I Determine Whether the Discomfort in My Abdomen is Serious?
Contact your healthcare provider if you have abdominal discomfort that lasts 1 week or longer, which does not improve in 24 to 48 hours, becomes more severe and frequent, and occurs with nausea and vomiting or bloating that persists for more than 2 days.
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