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Abdominal Pain

Woman with abdominal pain holding stomach.

Abdominal pain can come from one of the various organs in the abdominal cavity, including the stomach, the intestines, the colon, the liver, the gallbladder, the spleen, or the pancreas. While abdominal pain can come from multiple organs, it is also true that various health-related conditions can cause abdominal pain. Pain can vary in intensity, duration, and frequency. In some cases, abdominal pain may be acute and go away on its own, but in other cases, it may be chronic and occur intermittently.

In general, abdominal pain is mild, and gas, digestive troubles, or a pulled muscle most often cause it. In other cases, abdominal pain can be the result of a serious and potentially life threatening medical condition, such as appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy, heart attack, or diverticulitis. These acute conditions can cause abdominal pain, but chronic pain in the abdomen may have other medical causes, such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome. A doctor can help you to determine the cause of your abdominal pain, as well as an appropriate course of treatment, if needed.

Applicable Procedures

Colonoscopy
EGD

The course of treatment for abdominal pain will depend upon the cause of your pain. Sometimes, pain may be temporary and be the result of a minor issue like eating a large meal. In this case, abdominal pain will probably resolve on its own. On the other hand, if abdominal pain is from a serious condition, you may require surgery or emergency medical care to treat the condition. For mild cases of abdominal pain caused by gas or indigestion, a doctor may prescribe medications or recommend lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress, eating smaller portions, and eliminating certain foods from your diet.

Abdominal pain is generally nothing to be too concerned about, since it is often the result of gas or indigestion, which can be treated through over-the-counter medications or dietary changes. On the other hand, abdominal pain can sometimes signal a serious or potentially life-threatening problem that constitutes a medical emergency.

In rare cases, abdominal pain is a medical emergency. If your abdomen is tender to the touch, or your pain lasts longer than a few hours, it may be serious. Unexplained weight loss, yellow skin, pain during pregnancy, vomiting blood, bloody or tarry bowel movements, difficulty breathing, swelling in the stomach, and chest pain are also signs that abdominal pain may be serious. In these cases, you could be in need of emergency medical treatment, so it is critical that you call 911 or go to an emergency department immediately.

Common Symptoms

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