Determining the Cause of Your Stomach Pain
September 17, 2020
September 17, 2020
Regardless of your age, everyone gets a stomach ache every now and then. Whether you eat something bad for dinner, or you have chronic digestive issues, stomach pain can be uncomfortable and inconvenient.
When the symptoms set in, it’s important to understand the reason why your stomach is hurting – then you can find potential solutions to reduce the pain.
Often, stomach pain resolves on its own, with simple treatments at home. But if the symptoms are severe or you are experiencing chronic problems, then it could be an indication of underlying medical issues. Continue reading to know when you should talk to a doctor.
6 Things You Need to Know About Stomach Pain
Here are a few interesting points you should know about stomach pain:
- Stomach pain can happen anywhere between the pelvis and chest
- Intense, sudden pain often requires medical attention
- Minor symptoms will often go away without treatment
- Digestive issues are the most common reason why people experience stomach pain
- Stomach pain could be an indication of an underlying medical condition
- The severity of your pain doesn’t always indicate the seriousness of your health condition
Stomach pain might be caused by the stomach. Or, the symptoms could be stemming from other organs and connective tissues in the abdomen area such as the gallbladder, kidneys, liver, intestines, pancreas, appendix, or spleen.
Types of Abdominal Pain
When you are talking to a doctor, it’s helpful to describe the location of the pain, as well as the type of pain you are experiencing. Here are a few ways stomach pain can be classified:
- Localized Pain: Only one area of the abdomen is affected. Usually, local pain is an indication of a problem with a specific organ such as the gallbladder, stomach, or appendix.
- Generalized Pain: Are you feeling pain in multiple areas? If the symptoms are happening in more than ½ of your abdominal area, then it could be indigestion or a stomach virus. Sometimes, generalized pain is caused by a more serious problem such as an intestinal blockage.
- Cramps: Even though cramp-like pain can be intense, it usually isn’t serious. For example, bloating or gas can cause stomach cramps followed by the need to go to the bathroom. If cramps last longer than 24 hours, then it could be a more serious condition.
- Waves of Pain: Do you find that the pain symptoms come and go? If the symptoms start suddenly, with breaks between the pain, then it could be a severe condition such as gallstones or kidney stones.
It’s important to note other symptoms that are corresponding with stomach pain. For example, you might experience gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting, or fever.
Possible Causes of Stomach Pain
Here is an overview of the most common reasons why people experience stomach pain:
- Acid reflux
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Food poisoning
- Food allergies
- Stomach flu
- Viral infection
- Bowel obstruction
- Kidney stones
- Menstrual cramps
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Muscle strain
- Urinary tract infection
At-Home Treatments for Stomach Pain
If your symptoms are mild, then you might try some of these at-home care options to ease the symptoms:
- Drink water or clear fluids in small sips
- Avoid eating solid food for a few hours
- If you are vomiting, try following the “BRAT” Diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast
- When the pain is located high in the abdominal area, try taking over-the-counter antacid medication. Also, avoid eating spicy foods, grease, high-fat foods, citrus, carbonated beverages, and tomatoes.
When the symptoms begin, try these at-home treatments to see if you can reduce the pain. Pay attention to your symptoms. If you notice that the symptoms aren’t resolving on their own, then consider talking to a doctor for a diagnosis.
When to Talk to a Doctor
If you notice any of the following symptoms, then it’s smart to schedule an appointment with a doctor:
- 2 or more days that you can’t keep food down
- Unexplained weight loss
- Changes in bowel movements that last longer than a few days
- Minor traces of blood in stool
- Signs of dehydration, such as infrequent urination or urine that is dark in color
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Chronic symptoms
- Pain when you pee
- Symptoms return after going away
Some symptoms require emergency care, such as:
- Severe, sudden pain
- Stomach pain and a fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit
- Concentrated pain
- The abdomen is stiff and hard to the touch
- Black or bloody stool
- Uncontrollable vomiting
- Abdominal is sensitive to the touch
- Inability to urinate
- Inability to have a bowel movement
- Pain in both the abdomen and the chest
- Severe pain subsides when you are lying still
- Abdominal pain after an accident or injury
It’s also important to consider other health conditions that might be affected by your stomach pain. For example, if you are pregnant or you have diabetes, then you might need to seek medical treatment right away.
Diagnosis and a Conversation with a Doctor
Your doctor will complete a thorough exam, and also ask questions to learn more about your overall health. For example, you might discuss questions such as:
- Are you pregnant?
- Have you had any recent injuries?
- What activities make the pain worse?
- Are you taking any medications or supplements?
- Are you currently menstruating?
- Does the pain radiate into other areas of your body?
- Have you noticed that any positions ease the pain, such as laying on your side?
- Does the pain intensify after eating certain foods?
- Is the pain constant, or does it come and go?
- How long have you been experiencing stomach pain?
- Where is the pain located in the abdomen?
After the examination, your doctor might recommend testing to find the reason why you are experiencing pain. Common tests might include urine or stool samples, an endoscopy, a colonoscopy, x-rays, CT scans, or an ultrasound.
Schedule an Appointment
Trust your gut! If you feel like you need to talk to a doctor about abdominal pain, then there is no reason to wait to schedule an appointment. A medical professional can help in identifying the cause of your stomach pain. Then, you can choose from available treatments to reduce the symptoms.
If you would like to talk to a doctor, our experienced team at Rapid Med Urgent Care is here to help. We have locations in Highland Village and The Colony.
We offer both in-office appointments or On-Demand virtual appointments. Contact us to schedule your appointment.