What is Abominal Pain? Abdominal pain occurs in the abdomen. The abdomen is surrounded by the lower margin of the ribs and diaphragm above, from below the pelvic bone and on each side by the flanks. The pain can also arise from the tissues of the abdominal wall which surround the abdominal cavity. Basically, the term abdominal pain describes the discomfort originating from the organs within the abdominal cavity. The stomach, colon, gallbladder, small intestine, pancreas, liver, and spleen are the organs of the abdomen.
The pelvis contains the urinary bladder and rectum. It also contains the prostate gland in men and the uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries in women. Mostly, it is difficult to find out if the lower abdominal pain is coming from the lower abdomen or pelvis. Sometimes, a pain can be felt in the belly despite it is arising from organs close to the abdominal cavity such as the kidneys, the lower lungs, and the ovaries or uterus.
Causes of abdominal pain
Abdominal pain can be caused by inflammation of an organ such as appendicitis, colitis, and diverticulitis. It can also occur by stretching or distention of an organ like blockage of a bile duct by gallstones, obstruction of the intestine and also due to swelling of the liver. The loss of the supply of blood to an organ can also cause abdominal pain. There are various causes of abdominal pain and some are:
- Stomach virus
- Food poisoning
- Menstrual cramps
- Food allergies
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- A hernia
- Viral gastroenteritis
- Lactose intolerance
- Kidney stones
- Urinary tract disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Acid reflux
- Acute pancreatitis
- Ovarian cysts
Signs and symptoms of abdominal pain
If the abdominal pain is severe and is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, then the person should visit the doctor as soon as possible:
- Inability to keep food down for more than 2 days
- Unusually frequent or painful urination
- Inability to pass stool
- The pain lasts for more than a few hours
The doctor will ask few questions about the pain in order to find the possible causes and to reduce the pain as fast as possible.
- If the pain comes suddenly, then it may be due to a problem with an organ within the belly.
- The discomfort in the middle of the abdomen and later moves to the right lower abdomen, then it can be due to appendicitis.
- Discomfort in the left lower abdomen can be caused due to diverticulitis.
- Discomfort in the middle, upper abdomen or near where the gallbladder is located can be caused due to cholecystitis.
What helps in relieving the abdominal pain?
There are various medicines or methods which will help in relieving the abdominal pain and some of them are as follows:
- If the pain is caused due to constipation then it can be relieved temporarily by bowel movements and it can also be associated with changes in bowel habit.
- Consuming antacids can also temporarily relieve the ulcer pain from the stomach.
- Vomiting helps in reducing the pain caused by the obstruction of the stomach or upper small intestine. Vomiting reduces the distention which is caused by the obstruction.
Exams and tests are done for diagnosing the cause of abdominal pain
Various exams and tests can be taken in order to diagnose the cause of the abdominal cause.
- The sounds coming from the intestines which occur when there is obstruction of the intestines.
- Signs of inflammation
- Tenderness in the abdomen
- The existence of a mass within the abdomen, which suggests a tumor, abscess or enlarged organ.
- If the blood is visible in the stool which may signify an intestinal problem like colon cancer, ischemia, ulcer or colitis.
Laboratory tests will be conducted in order to check the CBC, liver enzymes, pancreatic enzymes, urinalysis.
- A prominent white count suggests inflammation or infection.
- The low red blood cell count can indicate a bleed in the intestines.
- Liver enzymes may be high with gallstone attacks or acute hepatitis.
- If the blood is seen in the urine, it suggests kidney stones.
- During diarrhea, if the white blood cells in stools are visible, then it suggests the intestinal inflammation or infection.
- If the pregnancy test is positive, then it may indicate an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy in the Fallopian tube instead of the uterus.
X-ray of the abdomen
Radiographic studies: Ultrasound, computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, Barium X-rays, capsule enteroscopy.
Endoscopic procedures: Esophagohastroduodenoscopy or EGD, colonoscopy,endoscopic ultrasound, balloon enteroscopy.
Treatment of abdominal pain
Treatment of abdominal pain depends upon its cause. Treatment can vary from medications for inflammation, ulcers or GERD, to antibiotics for infections. Bringing change in personal behavior for abdominal pain which is caused by the certain foods or beverages. If the pain is caused due to appendicitis or a hernia, then the surgery may be necessary.
Prevention of abdominal pain
- Eating healthy food, regular exercise and avoiding cigarette smoking helps in reducing the chances of abdominal pain.
- Maintaining proper hygiene, washing hands properly and avoiding foods and materials that are not hygienic. Those foods have higher chances of being contaminated with viruses and bacteria. So avoiding such foods and materials will help in reducing the risk of abdominal pain.