The abdomen is the area that falls between your chest and pelvis that is commonly referred to as your belly. It consists of stomach, liver, small intestine, large intestine, gallbladder, spleen, kidneys, diaphragm, and pancreas among other organs. The front of the abdomen consists of a tissue layer known as fascia, and the back of the abdomen consists of spine and back muscles. Blood vessels are connected with the abdomen, including inferior vena cava and aorta.
Abdominal pain is also referred to as stomachache or stomach pain and can be of varying intensity. It occurs between the chest and the pelvis and it can be felt either as sharp localized pain or as dull intermittent pain depending on the causes.
Many conditions can cause abdomen pain. The following are some of the common causes of abdominal pain:
Apart from these causes, abdominal pain can be caused due to intestinal obstruction, pulled muscles, food intolerances, celiac disease, hepatitis, cysts, organ cancer, or cardiac conditions.
There are three types of abdominal pain that you can experience; cramp-like, localized, or colicky.
Localized abdominal pain is when only one area of the abdomen is aching. This type of abdominal pain is usually caused due to issues associated with a single organ. Examples of localized abdominal pain are stomach ulcers.
Colicky abdominal pain is when you have a sharp pain that is quite severe. This type of abdominal pain can last a long time. You can experience this due to severe health issues such as kidney stones.
Cramp-like abdominal pain is when you experience pain similar to cramps. Sometimes this type of pain goes away without you doing anything. Women can experience this pain due to menstruation. Other causes of this type of pain include constipation, flatulence, or diarrhea.
Mild abdominal pain usually subsides without any treatment. But it is still a good idea to contact your doctor if you have abdominal pain because it can indicate other health issues. You should see your doctor when you have any of the following problems in addition to abdominal pain.
You should call emergency services when you are injured, and you have chronic abdominal pain. Additionally, if you experience pain or pressure in your chest along with abdominal pain, then you should contact emergency services.
Your doctor will first perform a physical examination. With the help of a stethoscope, your doctor will listen so that he can understand what is going on with your abdomen and the problems that exist in it. He will press your abdomen to understand where you feel pain and to check for any swelling in the abdomen. He will do so gently because certain parts of your abdomen will feel tender, and you will feel pain in some areas. Once this is completed, your doctor will ask you about how intense the pain in your abdomen and where you felt pain.
This information enables your doctor to order more tests to be performed depending on the problem area. The following are some of the tests that are used to diagnose abdominal pain after a physical examination.
Upper endoscopy is a test that enables your doctor to examine your small intestine and your stomach. Upper endoscopy is also known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD. A thin and flexible tube, called an endoscope, is put into your mouth. At the end of the tube is a camera that enables your doctor to view your stomach and small intestine thoroughly.
If your doctor feels that the cause of your abdominal pain is cancer or appendicitis, he may perform a computed tomography commonly known as CT scan. In this, detailed images of your abdomen are created with the help of a computer and X-rays. This helps your doctor see where the problem lies in your abdomen.
When your doctor thinks the cause of your abdominal pain is due to liver problems, he might perform a biopsy. In this test, a piece of tissue is taken to diagnose organ problems due to which you are having abdominal pain. A biopsy can be used to diagnose cancer, as well.
Lower endoscopy is another test used to diagnose abdominal pain. It is also known as a colonoscopy. This test is used to determine problems in the colon and rectum, such as bleeding or cancer. In this procedure, an endoscope is inserted through the anus opening so that the colon and rectum can be thoroughly analyzed.
MRI or Magnetic resonance imaging is a test that is used to check organs in the abdomen, such as the pancreas and liver. In an MRI test, detailed images of the abdomen are created with the help of radio waves in a magnetic field. A scanner is used to produce abdomen images that help your doctor determine the root cause of your abdominal pain.
Your doctor can perform an abdominal X-ray to diagnose abdominal pain and gastric problems. In this test, your abdomen’s X-ray is taken. This enables your doctor to take a look at all the organs in the abdominal area. Issues such as perforation in your abdomen can be seen by your doctor when an X-ray is done.
An abdominal ultrasound is another test that is used to create images of your abdomen area organs such as the gallbladder. It uses sound waves of high-frequency to create images on a screen that your doctor can then study to determine why you are having abdominal pain. It can easily detect issues that are affecting your organs in the abdomen.
ERCP or Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is a test used to examine the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. A special endoscope is used in ERCP, and it is used to examine your digestive system. This helps your doctor take a thorough look at the ducts and see where the problem is starting.
Upper GI series is a test that can help diagnose abdominal pain caused due to ulcers, among other problems. You are required to swallow a solution of barium for your doctor to be able to see X-ray films of your stomach and esophagus.
One of the leading causes of abdominal pain is a gastric problem. If your doctor believes that your pain is linked to that, he might suggest gastric emptying study. In this test, your doctor tests the rate at which your food passes through your stomach. A scanner is used to view the movement of the food in this test.
pH testing can be used by your doctor to check your esophagus’s acid levels. A tube is inserted through your nose, and the acid levels in the esophagus are monitored and examined by your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose problems such as GERD that causes abdominal pain with the help of pH testing.
Apart from the tests described above, your doctor might take urine, blood, or stool samples to check for infections that may be causing abdominal pain. Sometimes abdominal pain is caused due to viral infections, bacterial infections, or parasitic infections.
Any type of abdominal pain is uncomfortable, but there are ways in which you can prevent it. The following are some easy ways to avoid abdominal pain from occurring.
You should know that not all types of abdominal pain can be prevented. For example, pain that is caused by stomach ulcers and appendicitis cannot be prevented.
You can try the following natural home remedies to find relief when you have abdominal pain or gas trouble.
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