Abdominal pain is defined as the pain that occurs anywhere between the chest and groin area. Abdominal pain often happens when we suffer from excessive gas or bloating. Still, there is some abdominal pain that requires urgent investigation and management. Abdominal pain may be acute or chronic depending upon the underlying cause that triggers it.
Though most cases of stomach pain are not problematic and get resolved in time. Other cases may prove to be a sign of an illness. It is always better to get a diagnosis if the abdominal pain becomes persistent. A person can experience pain from inside the abdomen or the outer muscle wall. The pain can be mild, temporary or severe and may requiring emergency care.
When Should I Be Concerned About Abdominal Pain?
If it has been persistent, you should be concerned about your abdominal pain. If the pain has not improved within 24 to 48 hours then one should seek immediate medical care. Some of the symptoms of abdominal pain are as follows:-
- Persistent fever
- Loose tool
- Nausea and vomiting
- Change in skin color
- Difficulty in breathing
- Abdominal cramping
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss
Though such symptoms can be a sign of infection or inflammation in the body, getting the correct diagnosis can help treat the pain effectively.
Also read: What Causes Pain In The Lower Right Abdomen?
What is the cause of abdominal pain?
Several chronic diseases can cause stomach pain and require immediate treatment. Some of the illnesses with abdominal pain as a common symptom are
Nephrolithiasis, also known as kidney stones, is one of the most common urinary system problems. Millions of people are diagnosed with kidney stones every year, and it is often very painful. It is defined as a cramping pain on the back or side that moves to the lower abdomen. The pain is often severe and starts suddenly like waves. Some other symptoms that are common among people suffering from kidney stones include burning sensation while urinating, nausea and vomiting, frequent urination
The formation of kidney stone is dependent on the physicochemical properties of urine and any changes in the composition of urine contributes to an increased risk of developing nephrolithiasis. Urine contains many dissolved minerals and salts, and when the level of these minerals and salt goes high, it can lead to the formation of stones. These stones can fill the hollow inner structure of the kidneys.
When these stones travel down to the tube by which urine passes from the kidney to the bladder, it does not reach the bladder; instead, it becomes lodged in the tube it causes pain. In addition, it blocks the flow of urine from the kidney.
2. Gastroesophageal reflux disease(Acid reflux)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a chronic condition that is widely prevalent around the world. It is a condition that occurs when the stomach contents flow back into the food pipe due to the failure of the lower esophageal sphincter located between the stomach and esophagus to close properly.
Usually, the lower esophageal sphincter opens to let the food reach the stomach, and then later it closes to prevent the flow back of food and the acidic juices to the esophagus. But when the lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak and does not close properly, it allows the food to flow back to the esophagus and develops gastroesophageal reflux disease. Heartburn, stomach pain, and regurgitation are the most common symptoms of this disease.
Many doctors believe that a hiatal hernia plays a role in weakening the lower esophageal sphincter. A hiatal hernia is a condition in which the part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm muscles. When factors like coughing and vomiting increase the pressure in the abdomen, it can result in a hiatal hernia.
3. Abdominal aortic aneurysm
The abdominal aortic aneurysm is a complex disease that occurs with an enlargement of the abdominal aorta, and it is caused by the progressive weakening of the aortic wall. It is a common and severe condition that primarily affects older people, and it is one of the major causes of thousands of deaths every year.
Aorta is the main artery of the chest and abdomen, and it plays a vital role in carrying the blood flow from the heart to other parts of the body. This disease may cause no symptoms but sometimes abdominal, back, and leg pain may occur. An aneurysm is caused due to the progressive breakdown of the proteins in the wall of the aorta, elastin, and collagen. The breakdown leads to a weakness of the aorta wall, and it slowly expands like a balloon.
The exact cause of this disease is unclear but advancing age, smoking, drinking, hypertension, and atherosclerosis are considered to play some role in developing the abdominal aortic aneurysm.
4. Peptic ulcer
A peptic ulcer is a severe medical problem, and many people are affected by this disease every year. It occurs in the gastrointestinal tract lining that is exposed to gastric acid or the enzyme pepsin. It is the non-malignant lesion of the stomach that plays in which acid and pepsin play a major role.
The stomach produces pepsin and hydrochloric acid, which are present in the gastrointestinal tract and plays a role in dissolving the food and the digestion process. Therefore, when the ulcer is present in the stomach, it is known as a gastric ulcer. It is known as the duodenal ulcer when it is present in the first part of the intestines.
The most common symptom of the gastric ulcer is waking up at night with upper abdominal pain and stomach pain that worsens with eating. The most common symptom of the duodenal ulcer is waking up at night with upper abdominal pain or stomach pain that reduces after eating.
Is Abdominal Pain Life Threatening?
In some scenarios, abdominal pain can be a sign of a severe medical condition that can prove to be life-threatening. If one experiences symptoms like vomiting blood, abdominal distention, yellowing of skin or bloody stool then chances are that one may get diagnosed with a potentially life threatening condition.
It is crucial to seek out the necessary medical help in such an emergency setting.
Which doctor should I consult for abdominal pain?
If you are experiencing persistent abdominal pain and it has not resolved within 24 to 48 hours, it would probably be better to consult your general physician. However, suppose the stomach ache does not go away and keeps coming back. In that case, you can refer to a specialist like a gastroenterologist, who specializes in diagnosing and treating the complication of the digestive system.
People who have digestive problems are more likely to experience abdominal pain. But stomach aches can have several reasons for their occurrence. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult a doctor to know the exact cause. Apart from taking the necessary medical care and treatment, it is also essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle by taking a nutritional diet and exercising regularly.