Abdominal Pain: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Abdominal pain, also called colic or stomach ache, refers to discomfort felt in the space between the chest and groin. The abdomen contains many vital organs including the stomach, liver, small and large intestines, kidneys, appendix, spleen, pancreas, gallbladder and reproductive organs. Discomfort in one organ or part of the abdomen can cause pain that radiates throughout the area.
Almost everyone suffers from abdominal pain at some point. Most cases of abdominal pain are mild and usually not severe.
How severe or serious the pain is, does not always indicate the severity of the problem causing the pain. For example, very severe pain due to flatulence or stomach cramps may occur as a result of viral gastrointestinal inflammation. While life-threatening conditions such as colon cancer or early cases of appendicitis may be accompanied by mild or no pain.
Types & Symptoms of Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain may differ in degree and may be accompanied by some other symptoms. These are
- The pain can be sharp, blunt, like burning, stinging, or biting.
- Accompanied by vomiting.
- Radiate to other parts of the body.
- Be constant, episodic or permanent.
- Be localized or generalized.
Causes of Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain can be caused by a serious or less serious medical condition. Various factors can cause abdominal pain such as
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Food intolerance.
- Stomach flu.
- Food poisoning.
- Stomach or colon cancer.
- Kidney stones.
- Urinary tract infection.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm.
- Ruptured ovarian cyst.
- Ectopic pregnancy.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Muscle stretching.
Cardiac conditions like
- Heart failure.
- Hiatal hernia.
- Trauma to the stomach, spleen, liver or kidneys.
Diagnosis for Abdominal Pain
Doctors may review the medical history of the patient along with his family members. He/she can discuss and ask questions about previous surgical problems or procedures, drug and food allergies, health-related behaviors such as drug use, alcohol use, sexual activity, family history of illness, and clarify your current medication regimen.
A physical examination may be performed to identify physical signs to help clarify the diagnosis.
Physical examination, such as a thorough abdominal examination, pulmonary examination, and cardiovascular examination.
Other tests to determine the cause of abdominal pain may include-
- Blood test urinalysis.
- Imaging tests such as chest and abdominal X-rays.
- Abdominal ultrasound.
- CT scan of the abdomen.
How to Prevent Abdominal Pain?
Some measures that can help relieve abdominal pain are-
- Drink plenty of fluids such as water.
- Placing a hot water bottle over the abdomen.
- Reducing consumption of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and alcohol.
- Getting plenty of rest.
- Doing exercise regularly.
- Eat more frequently.
Treatment for Abdominal Pain
Treatment options include-
- Pain relievers will help relieve pain.
- Fluids are given intravenously to correct fluid loss and bowel rest.
- Drugs such as aztreonam, camylofin, dexlansoprazole, drotaverine, levofloxacin, or norfloxacin are effective.
- Fasting may be required until the cause of the pain is identified.
Home Remedies for Abdominal Pain
- Lemon waterLemon water is an excellent remedy for abdominal pain. The alkaline effect of lemon helps soothe excess acid in the stomach.
- Baking soda and lemonIt is an easy and best option for abdominal pain. You can mix lemon juice in water with a little baking soda, which can help with abdominal problems. This drink produces carbonic acid in the abdomen, which leads to a reduction in indigestion and bloating.
- MintMint leaves contain menthol, which helps soothe the abdomen and reduce digestive problems. It also helps reduce muscle spasms in the intestines and relieve pain.
- GingerGinger contains chemicals called gingerols and shogaols. These chemicals can help speed up stomach contractions, thereby reducing abdominal pain.
- CinnamonCinnamon is rich in various antioxidants such as camphor, linalool, cinnamaldehyde and eugenol. It helps your abdomen digest food easily and reduces the problems associated with the abdomen.
- CuminCumin seeds are one of the best remedies for abdominal pain. It helps with hyperacidity, flatulence and pain. Take a teaspoon of cumin seeds, dried coconut and two cloves of garlic. Mix and consume immediately.
When to see a doctor?
You should see a doctor immediately if your pain is sudden and severe or if it occurs with any of the following symptoms-
- Pain related to trauma such as accidents and injury.
- Pain in the chest, neck and shoulder.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Accompanied by stool that is black or bloody.
- Vomiting blood.
- High fever over 102 degrees.
- Persistent nausea.
- Dizziness and shortness of breath.
- Unusual vaginal discharge.
- Loose watery stool.