Abdominal Pain (Bellyache)

What is abdominal pain?
abdominal pain

Abdominal pain can occur anywhere between the chest and groin. The medical terms for abdominal pain are stomachache, tummy ache, gut ache, and bellyache. Abdominal pain can be mild or severe. It may be continuous or come and go. Abdominal pain can be short-lived (acute) or occur over weeks, months, or years (chronic).

How bad is my abdominal pain?

Mild: Acute pain starts over a few hours or days and may come with other symptoms.

Moderate: Chronic pain lasts longer (from weeks to months or more, may come and go); limiting instrumental activities of daily life (preparing meals, managing money, shopping, doing housework, and using a telephone).

Severe: Progressive pain gets worse over time and often comes with other symptoms.; limiting self-care activities of daily life (eating, dressing, getting into or out of a bed or chair, taking a bath or shower, and using the toilet).

How to manage mild abdominal pain?
  • Sip water or other clear fluids in small amounts. Diabetic people must check their blood sugar often and adjust their medicines as needed.
  • Avoid solid food for the first few hours.
  • Eat small amounts of foods (rice, applesauce, or crackers) if you have been vomiting.
  • Avoid dairy products.
  • Antacid may curb the pain that occurs after meal and is high up in the abdomen.
  • Avoid citrus, high-fat, fried, spicy, sour or greasy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages.
  • Do not take any medicine without consulting your health care team.
How to manage moderate and severe abdominal pain?

Call your health care provider if pain lasts more than a week or if you have pain with other symptoms. Get medical help if you

  • Have sudden and sharp abdominal pain
  • Have chest, neck or shoulder pain
  • Are vomiting blood or have blood in your stool
  • Have stiff, hard and tender abdomen
  • Can’t move your bowels
What causes abdominal pain?
Non-abdominal causes:
  • Pneumonia (lung infection)
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Pleurisy (irritation of the lining around the lungs)
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clots to the lungs)
chest wall :
  • Shingles (herpes zoster infection)
  • Costochondritis (inflammation of the rib cartilages)
  • Injury (blunt trauma, muscle pulls)
  • Nerve irritation (neuropathy)
  • Hernias (protrusions of structures through the abdominal wall)
  • Scars
Inflammatory conditions of the upper abdomen:
  • Ulcer disease (duodenal ulcer, gastric ulcer)
  • Esophagitis (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Gastritis (irritation of the lining of the stomach)
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall bladder)
  • Choledocholithiasis (passage of gall stones through the bile duct)
  • Hepatitis (infection or inflammation of the liver)
  • Colitis (infection or inflammation of the colon)
Functional problems of the abdomen:
  • Non-ulcer dyspepsia
  • Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction (problems with the bile duct valve)
  • Functional (pain without clear cause)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (pain associated with bowel movements)
Cancers of the upper abdomen:
  • Hepatoma (liver cancer)
  • Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct or gall bladder cancer)
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Lymphoma (cancer of the immune cells)
Vascular problems:
  • Mesenteric vascular insufficiency (blocked arteries or veins)
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (swelling of the main artery in the belly)
Inflammatory conditions in the mid- and lower abdomen:
  • Enteritis (infections of the small bowel, Crohn’s disease)
  • Colitis (infection or inflammation of the colon)
  • Diverticulitis (inflammation of pouches that form in the colon)
  • Appendicitis
Bowel obstruction:
  • Adhesions (scars in the belly that form after surgery or inflammation)
  • Tumor
  • Inflammation
  • Colorectal cancer
Urinary tract problems:
  • Kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infections (kidneys, bladder)
  • Tumors of the kidneys or bladder
Pelvic problems in women:
  • Ovarian cancer or cysts
  • Infection of the tubes (salpingitis)
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Fibroid tumors of the uterus (womb)
  • Malignant tumors of the uterus or cervix
  • Endometriosis
  • Adhesions (scars)

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