Abdominal Pain - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

By: Juliet Cohen

Abdominal pain is pain that is felt in the abdomen. This is often referred to as the stomach region or belly. Pain in the abdomen can come from any one of them. The pain may start somewhere else, such as your chest. Severe pain doesn't always mean a serious problem. The abdomen is an anatomical area that is bounded by the lower margin of the ribs above, the pelvic bone below, and the flanks on each side. Abdominal pain is caused by inflammation (e.g., appendicitis, diverticulitis), by stretching or distention of an organ (e.g., obstruction of the intestine, blockage of a bile duct by gallstones, swelling of the liver with hepatitis), or by loss of the supply of blood to an organ (e.g., ischemic colitis). Abdominal pain can be acute and sudden in onset, or the pain can be chronic and longstanding.

Abdominal pain can be sharp, dull, stabbing, cramp like, knife like, twisting, or boring. Many other types of pain are possible. The causes of abdominal pain depend on sex and age of the patient. Abdominal pain may be minor and of no great significance, or it can reflect a major problem involving one of the organs in the abdomen. A woman may have a twisted ovarian cyst while a man may have testicular torsion with a twisted testis. Treatment depends on the cause. The key is knowing when itís just a minor problem like a mild stomach ache or when itís something worse. Pain that persists can be a sign of a medical condition or illness. Very severe abdominal pain usually requires immediate medical care.

Causes of Abdominal pain

Possible causes include:
1. Excessive gas
2. Lactose intolerance
3. Giardia Lamblia
4. Hernia
5. Heartburn or indigestion
6. Diverticular disease, including inflammation of small pouches that form in the large intestines
7. Urinary tract infections
8. Ovarian Cysts
9. Pancreatic Cancer

Symptoms of Abdominal pain

In a woman who might be pregnant: severe pain that arises suddenly in the lower right or lower left abdomen, usually without vomiting or fever. Some people have constipation, while others have frequent loose stools, often with an urgent need to move the bowels and still others experience alternating constipation and diarrhea. Symptoms may vary from person to person. Severe pain that starts in the upper abdomen and often spreads to the sides and the back. The pain may flare up soon after a large meal, or six to 12 hours after an episode of heavy drinking.

Treatment of Abdominal pain

Medications are an important part of relieving symptoms. Activated charcoal capsules also may help. If the pain is high up in your abdomen and occurs after meals, antacids may provide some relief, especially if you feel heartburn or indigestion. Avoid citrus, high-fat foods, fried or greasy foods, tomato products, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages. Your doctor may suggest fiber supplements or occasional laxatives for constipation, as well as medicines to decrease diarrhea, tranquilizers to calm you, or drugs that control colon muscle spasms to reduce abdominal pain. Over-the-counter antacids, such as Tums, Maalox, or Pepto-Bismol, also can reduce some types of abdominal pain.

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Juliet Cohen writes for health disorders. She also writes articles for online health tips and skin disorders.

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