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Digestive problems are the most common cause of abdominal pain. Most cases resolve by home remedies without medical attention. Sudden or intense pain need immediate medical check-up.What is abdominal pain? Abdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. Most cases of abdominal pain are mild and have a variety of common causes, such as indigestion or muscle strain. Abdominal pain, also called as a stomach ache, is a symptom related with both non-serious and serious medical issues.
Causes of symptoms of abdominal pain vary and may include gallbladder disease, ulcers of the stomach, food poisoning, diverticulitis, appendicitis, cancers, gynecologic (for example, fibroids, cysts, sexually transmitted diseases – STDs, and vascular problems. Some women experience abdominal pain during pregnancy. Sometimes, abdominal pain also can occur without inflammation, distention or loss of blood supply. An important example of the latter is the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is not clear what causes the belly pain in IBS, but it is believed to be due either to abnormal contractions of the intestinal muscles (for example, spasm) or abnormally sensitive nerves within the intestines that give rise to painful sensations inappropriately (visceral hyper-sensitivity). This often is referred to as functional pain because no recognizable specific abnormality to account for the cause has been found – at least not yet.
Physical examination: Examining the patient will provide the doctor with additional clues to the cause of the pain. The doctor will determine: The presence of sounds coming from the intestines that occur when there is obstruction of the intestines, The presence of signs of inflammation (by special maneuvers during the examination), The location of any tenderness The presence of a mass within the abdomen that suggests a tumor, enlarged organ, or abscess (a collection of infected pus) The presence of blood in the stool that may signify an intestinal problem such as an ulcer, colon cancer, colitis, or ischemia.
Laboratory tests such as the complete blood count (CBC), liver enzymes, pancreatic enzymes (amylase and lipase), pregnancy test and urinalysis are frequently ordered. An elevated white count suggests inflammation or infection (as with appendicitis, pancreatitis, diverticulitis, or colitis). A low red blood cell count may indicate a bleed in the intestines. Amylase and lipase (enzymes produced by the pancreas) commonly are elevated in pancreatitis. Liver enzymes may be elevated with gallstone attacks or acute hepatitis. Blood in the urine suggests kidney stones. When there is diarrhea, white blood cells in the stool suggest intestinal inflammation or infection. A positive pregnancy test may indicate an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus).
Plain X-rays of the abdomen also are referred to as a KUB (because they include the kidney, ureter, and bladder). The KUB may show enlarged loops of intestines filled with copious amounts of fluid and air when there is intestinal obstruction. Patients with a perforated ulcer may have air escape from the stomach into the abdominal cavity. The escaped air often can be seen on a KUB on the underside of the diaphragm. Sometimes a KUB may reveal a calcified kidney stone that has passed into the ureter and resulted in referred abdominal pain or calcifications in the pancreas that suggests chronic pancreatitis.
Ultrasound is useful in diagnosing gallstones, cholecystitis appendicitis, or ruptured ovarian cysts as the cause of the pain. Computerized tomography (CT) of the abdomen is useful in diagnosing pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, appendicitis, and diverticulitis, as well as in diagnosing abscesses in the abdomen. Special CT scans of the abdominal blood vessels can detect diseases of the arteries that block the flow of blood to the abdominal organs. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is useful in diagnosing many of the same conditions as CT tomography. Barium X-rays of the stomach and the intestines (upper gastrointestinal series or UGI with a small bowel follow-through) can be helpful in diagnosing ulcers, inflammation, and blockage in the intestines. Computerized tomography (CT) of the small intestine can be helpful in diagnosing diseases in the small bowel such as Crohn’s disease. Capsule enteroscopy, uses a small camera the size of a pill swallowed by the patient, which can take pictures of the entire small bowel and transmit the pictures onto a portable receiver. The small bowel images can be downloaded from the receiver onto a computer to be inspected by a doctor later. Capsule enteroscopy can be helpful in diagnosing Crohn’s disease, small bowel tumors, and bleeding lesions not seen on x-rays or CT scans.
Esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD is useful for detecting ulcers, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach), or stomach cancer. Colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy is useful for diagnosing infectious colitis, ulcerative colitis, or colon cancer. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is useful for diagnosing pancreatic cancer or gallstones if the standard ultrasound or CT or MRI scans fail to detect them. Balloon enteroscopy, the newest technique allows endoscopes to be passed through the mouth or anus and into the small intestine where small intestinal causes of pain or bleeding can be diagnosed, biopsied, and treated.Surgery. Sometimes, diagnosis requires examination of the abdominal cavity either by laparoscopy or surgery.
Eat several smaller meals instead of three big ones
Chew your food slowly and well Stay away from foods that bother you (spicy or fried foods, for example)
Ease stress with exercise, meditation, or yoga
You have severe belly pain or the pain lasts several days;
You have nausea and fever and can’t keep food down for several days;
You have bloody stools;
It hurts to pee;
You have blood in your urine;
You cannot pass stools, especially if you’re also vomiting;
You had an injury to your belly in the days before the pain started;
You have heartburn that doesn’t get better with over-the-counter drugs or lasts longer than 2.
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