What is this Stomach Pain?
Stomach problems – what a pain! Slight stomach cramping or a dull ache is usually short lived and nothing to worry about. But, when is it time to call your gastroenterologist?
Describing your Stomach Pain:
- Generalized pain: This means that you feel it in more than half of your belly. This type of pain is more typical for a stomach virus, indigestion, or gas. If the pain becomes more severe, it may be caused by a blockage of the intestines.
- Localized pain: This is pain found in only one area of your belly. It is more likely to be a sign of a problem in an organ, such as the appendix, gallbladder, or stomach.
- Cramp-like pain: This type of pain is not serious most of the time. It is likely to be due to gas and bloating, and is often followed by diarrhea. More worrisome signs include pain that occurs more often, lasts than 24 hours, or occurs with a fever.
- Colicky pain: This type of pain comes in waves. It very often starts and ends suddenly, and is often severe. Kidney stones and gallstones are common causes of this type of belly pain.
When to seek medical care? If your abdominal pain is severe or if it is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Nausea, fever, or the inability to keep food down for several days.
- Bloody stools.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Vomiting blood.
- The pain occurs during pregnancy.
- The abdomen is tender to the touch.
- Pain is the result of an injury to the abdomen in the previous days.
- Pain lasts for several days.
Less serious causes of abdominal pain include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Food allergies or intolerance (such as lactose intolerance)
- Food poisoning
- Stomach flu
Other possible causes include:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (bulging and weakening of the major artery in the body)
- Bowel blockage or obstruction
- Cancer of the stomach, colon (large bowel), and other organs
- Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) with or without gallstones
- Decreased blood supply to the intestines (ischemic bowel)
- Diverticulitis (inflammation and infection of the colon)
- Heartburn, indigestion, or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis)
- Kidney stones
- Pancreatitis (swelling or infection of the pancreas)
In many cases, the symptoms of abdominal bloating can be diminished or even prevented by adopting a few simple lifestyle changes. Abdominal cramping
- Don’t chew gum. Chewing gum can cause you to swallow extra air, which in turn can lead to bloating.
- Limit your intake of carbonated drinks.
- Avoid “gassy” foods, such vegetables in the cabbage family, dried beans, and lentils.
- Eat slowly.
- Avoid drinking through a straw.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Use lactose-free dairy products.
Consult your doctor if bloating is accompanied by any of the following:
- abdominal pain
- blood in the stools or dark, tarry looking stools
- worsening heartburn
- unexplained weight loss