Abdominal pain is any discomfort that is felt between the lower chest and the groin region. Also referred to as stomach ache, it can be mild or severe, continuous (chronic) or short-lived (acute). Acute pain is not to be worried about. However, it warns of some severe disorders, conditions, or diseases if it exists for long periods.
The abdomen comprises the stomach, intestines (small and large), appendix, spleen, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and oesophagus. If any of these organs get inflamed or infected by any viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection, it may cause unusual abdominal pain. Then, you would feel abdominal pain in a small area or the entire abdomen, depending on its cause and severity.
Almost all people experience abdomen pain in their lifetime. Still, it is rarely a cause of concern until it is accompanied by other red-flag symptoms indicating any severe condition that requires immediate medical assistance.
Types of Abdominal Pain
There are four types of abdominal pain depending upon its location and nature, which also help determine its cause and treatment.
●Generalised Pain: When pain is felt in more than half of your abdomen, it is a Generalized Pain. Several disorders can result in this type of pain, such as stomach virus/bacterial infection, indigestion, or bloating.
●Localised Pain: When pain is limited to one part of the abdomen, it is termed Localized Pain. It is a sign of any disorder associated with any particular organ such as the gallbladder, appendix, or stomach (stomach ulcer symptoms).
●Cramp-like Pain: A Cramp-like Pain is when the pain is like a shooting pang in your abdomen and does not last for long (acute). This type of pain comes and goes and may be the result of gas, bloating, flatulence, or diarrhoea. Besides, it can also be due to menstruation, reproductive complications, or miscarriage in women.
●Colicky Pain: This type of pain comes in waves, and indicates a serious condition and is always severe (chronic). It starts and ends suddenly and feels like a painful muscle spasm. More often, this pain is associated with kidney stones or gallstones.
Moreover, the severity of pain does not indicate the seriousness of the condition. You may feel terrible abdominal pain even when suffering from gas, stomach infection or viral gastroenteritis. Mild pain or no pain can also accompany severe and life-threatening conditions such as early appendicitis or colon cancer. So, it is the symptoms that signal an alarm and must not be ignored.
Location of Abdominal Pain and Causes
Abdominal pain indicates a potential cause that can range from acute to fatal. Its location and pattern give vital signs while the time course helps in determining its cause. Though acute pains are often due to gas, indigestion, or a pulled muscle are usually not serious, chronic pains may require instant medical attention.
When abdominal pain is limited to a particular area, it may indicate
●Food allergy or poisoning
●Urinary Tract Infection
Upper Abdominal Pain
The upper abdomen area includes the stomach, spleen, pancreas (some part), liver, gallbladder, small intestine (parts), and large intestine (parts). The upper stomach pain indicates
●Hepatitis (liver inflammation)
Lower Abdominal Pain
The lower abdomen area comprises the appendix (lower-right side), large intestine, urinary tract (parts), and reproductive organs. The lower abdominal pain indicates
In women, this pain can be the result of
●Menstrual stomach cramps (Dysmenorrhea)
Left Side Abdominal Pain
The left part of the abdomen comprises the spleen, pancreas, left lobe of the liver, stomach (some part), urinary tract (some parts) & reproductive tract (some parts), small intestine/bowel (some part) and colon (some parts). The pain in lower left abdomen can be due to
The pain in lower right abdomen can be due to
Right Side Abdominal Pain
The right side part of the abdomen comprises the gallbladder, appendix (lower-right side), the right lobe of the liver, stomach (part), urinary tract (parts) & reproductive tract (parts), small intestine/bowel(parts) and right side of the colon. The pain in the right side of the abdomen indicates
Symptoms and When to See the Doctor
Though mild (acute) abdominal pains go away without medical help, severe cases warrant immediate medical assistance.
Call your doctor if you have severe abdominal pain along with red flag symptoms like
●Pressure or pain in your chest
●Discomfort in sitting
●Elevated Pain with movement
●Persistent Nausea and Vomiting
●Swelling of the Abdomen
Treatment for the Abdominal Pain
Acute abdominal pains that are due to gastrointestinal disorders such as gas, indigestion, constipation, or upset stomach fade within a few hours or a day, even without any treatment. You can also take any over-the-counter (OTC) drug for these pains after consulting your doctor or try some home remedies. OTC drugs that work for these kinds of abdominal pains are:
●Stool Softeners for Constipation
Other gastrointestinal problems like gastritis, food poisoning, or peptic ulcer, etc. require medical treatments with OTC drugs such as:
●Acid Reducers & Acid Blockers
●Electrolyte Replacement Fluids (ORS solution)
Other acute to chronic conditions may require a combination of medications, hospitalisation and even surgery at some point. The mode of treatment depends upon the cause of pain, severity, and other medical complications and can last days to months.
Home Remedies for the Abdominal Pain
Although OTC drugs give fast relief in acute gastric abdominal pains, you can also treat these effectively with some traditional home remedies like:
●Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of cold water and drink immediately for heartburn.
●Drink ginger tea to get relief from nausea
●Use a heating pad on your belly for menstrual or cramp-like pain
●Lye reclined on your left side as it helps in passing gas
●Modify your diet and exclude problematic foods
●Take 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses daily for constipation
●Do some yoga and exercises
Do not ignore the warning signs that your body gives you. If you feel anything alarming, contact Midas Hospitals immediately. Your doctor will diagnose your symptoms and prescribe tests to determine the root cause & severity and begin proper treatment.
How to prevent abdominal pain?
Do yoga, walk or any other exercise and take a healthy and proper diet to reduce the chances of gastric problems.
When is the right time to see a doctor if I am feeling pain in the abdomen?
Seek medical assistance if abdominal pain is accompanied by other warning signs mentioned above.
How can I treat abdominal pain?
Either take any pain killer or try the home remedies mentioned above.