June 4, 2015Gastroenterology 0
Most people experience stomach pain or abdominal pain at some point in their lives. There are many causes that can lead to abdominal pain and many of them are easily treated. However, some pains have serious underlying causes and need prompt medical attention and hospitalization to treat them.
Causes of Abdominal Pain
Some of the main causes of abdominal pain include stomach virus, indigestion, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, menstrual cramps, food allergies, food poisoning, gas, hernia, gallstones, pelvic inflammatory disease, ulcers, lactose intolerance, appendicitis, urinary tract infection, GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease, Crohn’s disease, kidney stones, and endometriosis.
A stomach virus or indigestion can lead to bloating, gas formation, and cramps. On the other hand constipation is the inability to pass stools easily and this is treated by increasing fiber intake. Menstrual cramps and endometriosis can only occur in women. Typically, menstrual cramps are treated with pain killers while endometriosis where the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus is treated by surgery to remove the uterus lining or the uterus itself. Hernia is the projection of the internal organs located in the abdomen through a gap or weak wall of muscle. This is typically corrected by surgery to strengthen the muscle.
GERD occurs when the valve that connects the esophagus to the stomach is weak. This lets the digestive acids from the stomach enter the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the upper abdomen or close to the heart – typically referred to as heartburn. This condition is treated with antacids as well as a better diet and weight reduction.
Determining the Cause of Abdominal Pain
While some types of abdominal pain will go away on their own, others are more serious. In general, it is advisable to consult a physician if the pain is recurring, lasts long, is accompanied by blood in the stools, vomiting and inability to pass stools, and acute pain.
In order to try an determine the cause of the abdominal pain, the doctor will ask you a few questions such as when the pain occurs, how long it lasts, which part of the abdomen is affected, the type of pain – acute, dull, burning sensation, spread out, and so on. Based on this information and other symptoms such as fever, the doctor will ask for some tests such as endoscopy, ultrasound, CT scan , barium swallows, enemas, blood, stool, and urine tests. These tests are designed to identify the cause of the abdominal pain.
Once the cause of the abdominal pain has been determined, the doctor will prescribe medication or other treatment.
Treatment for abdominal or stomach pain can include antibiotics if there is an infection or inflammation, surgery or other treatment to remove gallbladder or kidney stones, medication to deal with GERD or ulcers, surgery to remove the appendix, and so on. An inflamed appendix needs to be removed immediately through surgery as a burst appendix can be fatal as it can cause peritonitis.
Some conditions such as gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance can be controlled by modifying the diet.
Irritable bowel syndrome is caused by stress and many doctors prescribe activities and exercises that can help reduce stress to combat this condition. Sometimes depression can cause irritable bowel syndrome and this condition is therefore treated with antidepressants.
Inflammatory bowel disease causes rectal bleeding and is an infection of either the small or large intestine. As the symptoms might flare up and subside on their own, doctors might find it difficult to indentify. Once identified, this disease is treated with antibiotics as it can cause cancer when left untreated for long.