Abdominal Pain (Causes, Remedies, Treatment) (cont.)
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.
In this Article
- Abdominal pain facts
- What is abdominal pain?
- What causes abdominal pain?
- When should I call my doctor about abdominal pain?
- How is the cause of abdominal pain diagnosed?
- Signs and symptoms associated with abdominal pain
- Physical examination to diagnose abdominal pain
- Exams and tests to diagnose abdominal pain
- IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and diagnosing abdominal pain
- Why can diagnosis of the cause of abdominal pain be difficult?
- What are home remedies for certain causes of abdominal pain?
- What medications can be used to treat certain causes of abdominal pain?
- What lifestyle choices can I make to prevent abdominal pain?
- Pictures of Abdominal Pain - Slideshow
- Pictures of What's Causing Your Pelvic Pain - Slideshow
- Pictures of Appendicitis & Appendectomy - Slideshow
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What causes abdominal pain?
Abdominal pain is caused by inflammation (for example, appendicitis, diverticulitis, colitis), by stretching or distention of an organ (for example, obstruction of the intestine, blockage of a bile duct by gallstones, swelling of the liver with hepatitis), or by loss of the supply of blood to an organ (for example, ischemic colitis).
To complicate matters, however, abdominal pain also can occur without inflammation, distention or loss of blood supply. An important example of this latter type of pain is the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is not clear what causes the abdominal pain in IBS, but it is believed to be due either to abnormal contractions of the intestinal muscles (for example, spasm) or abnormally sensitive nerves within the intestines that give rise to painful sensations inappropriately (visceral hyper-sensitivity). These latter types of pain are often referred to as functional pain because no recognizable (visible) causes for the pain have been found - at least not yet.
When should I call my doctor about abdominal pain?
Some doctors suggest that if you have a "less serious" cause of abdominal pain (see above section on topic), especially if it is likely food poisoning (viral or bacterial) and you have had discomfort but are not dehydrated, you will likely not need medical care as the symptoms should resolve in about 24 to 48 hours. If you have a chronic problem that occasionally causes abdominal pain, most doctors suggest you contact the person treating you for the ailment for an appointment or prescription (refill). However, if you have any of the problems or symptoms listed in the "serious abdominal pain "section above, you should seek immediate medical care.
How is the cause of abdominal pain diagnosed?
Doctors determine the cause of abdominal pain by relying on:
- Characteristics, signs, and symptoms of the pain
- Findings on physical examination
- Laboratory, radiological, and endoscopic testing
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