Why does everyone get stomach pain or abdominal pain?
Stomach pain has many causes. Although it is one of the worst feelings, most of the time the pain is harmless and will pass on its own.
But stomach pain could be a sign of a serious health problem. And sometimes even mild stomach pain could be serious and severe stomach pain could be harmless.
In this article, you’ll learn the causes of abdominal pain, when to see a doctor for abdominal pain, and home remedies to prevent and relieve a stomach ache.
What Is Abdominal Pain? (Stomach Pain)
Abdominal pain, or stomach pain, is discomfort in your belly area. Your belly area is from your ribs to your pelvis. Abdominal pain is common and most of the time it isn’t anything to worry about. But abdominal pain can also be a sign of a serious medical condition. The important thing is to know when to seek medical attention.
Abdominal pain has unique characteristics unlike heart rate or blood pressure:
- Abdominal pain is subjective. There’s no test or measurement to record your pain. Your medical provider can only see your pain through your description.
- Abdominal pain isn’t always a digestive problem. Although it feels like a stomach ache, abdominal pain could be caused by many other organs besides your stomach.
- Abdominal pain can be serious regardless of how much it hurts. For example, stomach cramps and viral infections may cause bad stomach pain but they’re not serious. Although cancer or early appendicitis may cause mild or no pain, they could be fatal if left untreated.
- Abdominal pain has many forms. It ranges from constant dull pain, occasional cramps, and brief sharp pain.
What Are the Types of Abdominal Pain?
Adnominal pain has several types, depending on how fast it starts and how long it lasts. The three main types of abdominal pain are the following (1):
- Acute abdominal pain: Acute abdominal pain develops over hours or days and may have other symptoms. It ranges from minor problems that don’t need treatment to medical emergencies.
- Chronic (intermittent or episodic): Chronic abdominal pain can be mild or severe and last for weeks or months. It comes and goes but doesn’t get worse necessarily.
- Progressive: Progressive abdominal pain gets worse and usually comes with other symptoms. It’s usually a sign of a serious medical condition.
Other descriptions of abdominal pain that help with diagnosis include the following (2):
- Generalized pain: You feel generalized pain in more than half of your belly. It’s usually caused by gas, indigestion, or a stomach virus.
- Localized pain. Localized pain is in one area of your belly. It’s usually a symptom of an organ problem such as your appendix, gallbladder, or stomach.
- Cramp-like pain. Cramp-like pain isn’t usually serious as it’s most likely caused by gas or bloating. It’s more serious if it happens more often, occurs with a fever, or lasts longer than 24 hours.
- Colicky pain. Colicky pain is usually severe and comes in waves of intensity. Common causes are kidney stones and gallstones.
When To See A Doctor For Abdominal Pain
Whether to see a doctor for abdominal pain depends on the type of pain, the severity, and other symptoms. You should see a doctor for abdominal pain if the person has any of the following symptoms (3):
- Dull abdominal pain that lasts longer than a week
- Significant abdominal pain that doesn’t feel better within 24 to 48 hours
- Abdominal pain that gets worse, more severe, or occurs frequently
- Abdominal pain with bloating that lasts longer than two days
- Abdominal pain with unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal pain with a fever
- Abdominal pain with diarrhea that lasts longer than five days
- Abdominal pain with burning or painful sensation while urinating
- If you’re searching the internet for answers to your stomach pain
Abdominal Pain That Requires Emergency Care
Get immediate medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms (3):
- Sudden or severe abdominal pain
- Abdominal pain with chest pain
- Jaundice (Yellowing of your skin and whites of your eyes)
- Severe or frequent diarrhea or vomiting
- Abdominal pain and vomiting blood
- Intense or consistent bleeding from the bowels
- Severe tenderness when touching your abdomen
- Abdomen swelling
- Abdomen pain with the inability to have a bowel movement (especially if you’re vomiting)
- Gastric pain with difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Abdomen pain during pregnancy (or if you think you’re pregnant)
- You’ve had a recent abdomen surgery or injury
Other abdominal pain symptoms that may require medical attention include (4):
- Blood in stool, urine, or vomit
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of appetite
- Pain that awakens you at night
Abdominal Pain You Can Treat At Home
- Mild generalized stomach pain
What Causes Abdominal Pain?
Many health conditions can cause abdominal pain, but the main causes are indigestion, stress, infection, constipation, or organ problems in the abdomen. Understanding the causes helps you avoid stomach pain and get help for a serious medical condition early.
Causes of Sudden and Severe Abdominal Pain
Sudden or severe abdominal pain requires immediate medical attention. Causes include the following (5):
- Bowel obstruction
- Kidney stones
- Gall stones
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
- Heart attack
- Pregnancy problems
Digestive Problems That Cause Abdominal Pain
Common digestive problems that cause stomach pain include (6):
- Acid reflux
- Crohn’s disease
- Food intolerances
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Stomach flu
- Stomach or peptic ulcers
- Stress: stress activates the sympathetic nervous system that takes energy from digestion and healing to preparing for action.
Chest Problems that Cause Cause Abdominal Pain
Chest problems that can cause abdominal pain include (7):
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clots that travel to the lungs)
- Heart attack
- Pneumonia (8)
Upper Abdominal Pain Causes
Causes of upper abdominal pain include (9):
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Hiatal hernia
- Liver abscess
- Peptic ulcer
- Functional dyspepsia
- Blind loop syndrome
- Enlarged or ruptured spleen
Lower Abdominal Pain Causes
Causes of lower abdominal pain include (10):
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Kidney infection
- Kidney stones
- Menstrual cramps
- Acute urinary retention
Reproductive Organ Problems That Cause Abdominal Pain In Women
Reproductive organ problems that cause abdomen pain for women include (11):
- Menstrual cramps
- Uterine fibroids
- Ovarian cysts
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Ectopic pregnancy
Abdominal Pain Natural Remedies
You should only try to treat mild abdominal pain at home. The following remedies help prevent stomach pain caused by gas or indigestion:
- Eat slowly
- Eat smaller portions of more frequent meals
- Give your body enough time to digest between meals
- Stop eating at least two hours before bed
- Chew your food thoroughly
- Eat enough fiber
- Eat more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes
- Drink enough water every day for proper digestion
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Don’t drink more than a few sips of anything with your meals. Water dilutes your stomach acid making it harder to digest.
- Stand or sit up straight after you eat if you have GERD. Lying down allows the stomach acid to move upward and causes heartburn.
- Relax and avoid stressful activities before, during, and after meals
- Exercise every day and take a quick walk after big meals
- Try reducing or cutting out common problem foods such as dairy or gluten to see what’s causing your stomach problems
- Avoid difficult to digest foods such as fried foods or heavily preserved foods
How To Get Rid of A Stomach Ache
First, work with your medical provider to determine that your stomach pain isn’t caused by a serious medical condition. Then consider these home remedies for gas, indigestion, or an upset stomach (12):
- Ginger for nausea and vomiting (13)
- Peppermint for nausea and upset stomach
- Apple cider vinegar
- Chamomile tea
- Figs for constipation
- Relaxation: Relaxation activates your parasympathetic nervous system which promotes digestion and healing.
- Take a warm bath or use a heating pad for your stomach. The heat helps relax your stomach and relieve pain.
- The BRAT diet stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. The BRAT diet is rich in starches which help relieve diarrhea by binding up stools. And it also helps replace nutrients lost from diarrhea or vomiting (14).
- Try lime juice in water. Some studies show that limes can help with digestive issues by neutralizing excess bile production by the liver and counteracting the effect of greasy food (15).
- Activated charcoal
- Do not take any medication without consulting your medical provider
- Club soda for stomach pain and indigestion
What Your Stomach Pain Is Trying To Tell You
You’re concerned because your stomach pain isn’t going away on its own or the pain is severe.
Now you know the common causes of stomach pain and when to seek medical help.
You’ve also learned natural remedies to prevent or relieve a stomach ache at home.
The main cause of all stomach or abdominal pain is stress, either physical, chemical, or emotional. Your pain is not only a sign of a physical health condition but a sign that something is wrong in your life. Work with your health provider to solve the health problem causing you pain, but also find the source of your stress.
Is your job, school work, diet, or relationships causing you stress?
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