Just about everybody at one point or another will experience abdominal pain. Most of the causes are not serious and can be readily diagnosed and treated. However, pain can also be a sign of a serious illness. It’s important to be able to recognize symptoms that are severe and know when to call a doctor.
Whether it’s a mild stomach ache, sharp pain, or stomach cramps, abdominal pain can have numerous causes. Some of the more common causes include:
If your abdominal pain is severe or recurrent or if it is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as possible:
These symptoms can be an indication of an internal problem that requires treatment as soon as possible.
Seek immediate medical care for abdominal pain if you:
How Is the Cause of Abdominal Pain Determined?
Because there are so many potential causes of abdominal pain, yourhealth care provider will perform a thorough physical exam, discuss with you the type of symptoms you are experiencing, and ask you several questions about the pain you are feeling. These questions may include:
Once an initial evaluation has been completed, your health careprovider may have you undergo some tests to help find the cause of your pain. These may include stool or urine tests, blood tests, barium swallows or enemas, an endoscopy, X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan.
Treating abdominal pain depends on its cause. Treatments can range from medications for inflammation,GERD, or ulcers, to antibioticsfor infections, to changes in personal behavior for abdominal pain caused by certain foods or beverages. In some cases, such asappendicitis and a hernia, surgery may be necessary.