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Abdominal Pain: What It Is and What Causes It

Some people may think that abdominal pain is merely localized at the stomach or belly of a person where the pain is typically believed to have started. But, in most cases, abdominal pain may start from other sources, particularly, from the body organs that are located within the body’s abdominal cavity. These include the spleen, pancreas, colon, liver, stomach, small intestines, and gallbladder.

However, according to reports, there are also certain occasions when the abdominal pain is caused by other organs that are not part of the abdominal cavity but are merely near that area. These organs may include the kidneys, ovaries or uterus, and lower lungs of a person.

What causes the pain? Typically, this is felt because of an occurrence of an inflammation of a certain organ like, for instance, the inflammation that occurs when the person has colitis, diverticulitis, or appendicitis.

Abdominal Pain

The swelling of the person’s blood may also be a possible cause for the pain like in the case of ischemic colitis. Aside from these cases, blockage or obstruction by the body’s gallstones or intestines would also be possible causes of pain.

Sometimes, pain is felt even without the presence of inflammation or loss of blood. For this situation, it is more likely that the person is suffering from IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a perfect example of this cause.

So what can one do when this happens?

Prompt diagnosis by a trusted family doctor is recommended especially for emergency cases when the abdominal pain comes with bleeding or signs of shock (like faintness, increase in the pulse rate, and others), or is very severe and frequent.

How does the diagnosis go? Often, a thorough check-up is required. Patients are encouraged to describe the pain. Pertinent information such as the duration or time when the pain occurs should be shared to the physician.

Aside from these things, the pattern (if it occurs frequently or lasts longer than thirty seconds) and the location where the pain is felt can also help determine the possible diagnosis and treatment.

Why would doctors need to know these things? It is important to take note of how the pain begun. It may occur after a certain occasion, after eating or drinking something, and others. Location of the pain is also imperative since appendicitis, diverticulitis and other causes normally occur at particular areas of the abdomen.

Basically, when pain is located at the lower portion of the right side of the stomach, it is likely that the cause is appendicitis. If the pain is felt at the lower right portion of the belly, this may be a sign of diverticulitis.

If the pain is localized at the upper right portion of the abdominal cavity, then, there’s a great possibility that this is caused by the person’s gallbladder. For all situations, immediate medical attention would be needed.

Findings for the abdominal pain would be informed to the patients after a medical consultation. If doctors feel that there is a need for more information, a set of tests that may involve endoscopic testing, laboratory exams, and radiological exams is done. For emergency cases, the patient is usually wheeled in for surgery immediately.

Abdominal Pain during Pregnancy

Abdominal pain during pregnancy is a usual cause of concern and worry, especially for first-time parents. But while some cases of abdominal pain during pregnancy are normal occurrences because of the delicate state and the typical physical adjustments that the mother has to go through, there are other related situations that may be a possible cause of danger.

For these situations, immediate consultation with a doctor is recommended. To know what to expect, there are common signs that may point to a more harmful condition that first-time parents should bear in mind.

When the pain is severe, that’s one of the first warning signs. Severe and persistent abdominal pain during pregnancy may reveal other underlying conditions that should be checked by a trusted doctor immediately.

Such cases is often accompanied by other signs such as bleeding, spotting, clammy skin, faintness, vomiting, nausea, racing pulse, chills, fever, vaginal discharge, foul smell of urine, cloudy urine, and discomfort when urinating or moving bowels.

A possible reason for this situation is ectopic pregnancy. This occurs when the egg implants itself at one of the fallopian tubes outside of the uterus after fertilization. This type of pregnancy can be dangerous if it would be left untreated.

Sometimes the pain is caused by pre-term labor or premature labor. For this case, the pain may be accompanied by low back pains, bleeding, and an increase of the vaginal discharge. It may feel like menstrual-like cramping at the most, and may or may not hurt that much.

But unlike menstrual pains, this case may last for more than four contractions in a given hour. It usually occurs before the term of pregnancy reaches thirty seven weeks.

Abdominal Pain during Pregnancy

Another possible reason is miscarriage which can occur within the first delicate term of pregnancy (around twenty weeks after the egg is fertilized). Light or heavy bleeding or spotting is, normally, the first sign of miscarriage. For most moms, pains may last for a few hours. For others, this would stretch to a few days at the most.

Other reasons that may be more dangerous include the possibility of the mom having placental abruption. This occurs when the placenta usually moves or separates itself from the mom’s uterus in a complete or partial manner. A common sign would include hardening of the uterus, contractions, or cramps that would not subside.

Another dangerous symptom of the stomach pain is preeclampsia – the condition when the mom has high blood pressure and traces of protein in the urine for the first twenty weeks. This may affect not only the placenta but also certain organs like the brain, kidneys, and liver.

Other reasons would include obstruction of the bowel, gallbladder disease, pancreattis, kidney stones, food poisoning, stomach virus, appendicitis, hepatitis, and fibroids. It may also include gas or bloating, ligament pain, constipation, or the Braxton Hicks contractions that may occur during mid-pregnancy.

These signs for abdominal pain during pregnancy shouldn’t be overlooked. To be safe, it is recommended that parents consult a health practitioner at the onset of abdominal pain during pregnancy.

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